North American Airlines  Douglas DC-3   N55297                     (c/n  4683)


                                      This DC-3 is in what I would call North American's 'latter day' markings.. For the original livery see
                                      the DC-4 N63396.  In 1945 Stanley Weiss and Charles Sherman founded a company known as
                                      Fireball Air Express.  It flew irregular scheduled passenger and cargo flights between Long Beach,
                                      CA and New York City with DC-3s.  Sherman left the company in 1947 and founded Airline Trans-
                                      port Carriers (and later California Central Airlines) to fly 'Thriftliner" services between Burbank and
                                      Oakland.  At that time Weiss changed Fireball's name to Standard Air Lines.   In 1950 Weiss merged
                                      Standard with Ross Hart and Jack Lewin's Viking Air Lines   He then acquired Twentieth Century Air-
                                      lines, Trans-National Airlines, Trans-American Airlines and Hemisphere Air Transport.  With these
                                      six carriers he then formed the North American Airlines Agency which acted as a central marketing
                                      and reservations umbrella     By combining the airlines he was able to circumvent the CAB's twelve-
                                      per-month limitation of non-sked carriers' frequency and could, in effect, offer daily service between
                                      any two cities.     In fact, originally some fourteen DC-3s were painted up in a generic 'Aircoach'
                                      livery.    When the DC-4s were acquired the titling was changed to "The North American".  Bill
                                      Larkins' photo of N55297 was taken at Oakland in May of 1955.   The aircraft was, in fact, at that
                                      time actually registered to Standard Air Lnes so far as FAA records show.     Such was the convo-
                                      luted corporate web.  . For more on this history see the next entry.