Set up at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, during the summer of 1968 as an affiliate of Sports by Air, Inc. Employing a pair of Aero Commander 500Bs, the commuter inaugurates daily scheduled roundtrips on August 15 linking its base with Hilton Head, Columbia, Raleigh, Jacksonville, Savannah, Charleston, and Raleigh. Services are maintained into 1969.
SOUTH CENTRAL AIR: 135 Granite Post Court, Kenai, Alaska 99611, United States; Phone (907) 283-7676; Fax (907) 283-3678; Code XE; Year Founded 1967. Harold and Irene Andersen establish this charter operation at Kenai, Alaska, in 1967, flying passengers and cargo to surrounding locales over the next 15 years. The company is sold to David Diamond in early 1981 and is reformed to provide scheduled passenger and cargo flights to destinations throughout the south central portion of the state, especially the Kenai Peninsula.
President Diamond inaugurates high-frequency nonstop service to Anchorage and multiple-frequency flights to Homer, Seward, and Sol-dotna. The initial fleet includes a mix of Cessna lightplanes, and 1 each Piper PA-31-310 Navajo, PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain, and Britten-Nor-man BN-2 Islander. Not required as a private carrier to reveal its traffic figures, it will, however, do so on a sporadic basis.
Several Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains are acquired in 1982 and enplanements reach 79,991.
In October 1983, the company is purchased by Kenai Air Alaska, which will operate it as a subsidiary.
While taxiing in fog at Anchorage on December 23, Korean Air-lines/Korean Air (KAL) Flight 084, a DC-10-30F with three crew, manages to become situated on the wrong runway. During its takeoff roll, the wide-body collides head on with South Central Air Flight 59, the Navajo Chieftain with nine passengers, which is taking off on a service to Kenai. Flight 084 overruns the runway by 1,434 ft. and although both aircraft are badly damaged, amazingly, there are no fatalities.
Passenger boardings for the year climb to 108,611.
During 1984-1985 , airline employment is 100 and the fleet comprises 2 Piper T-1040s, 5 Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains, 1 Piper PA-31-310 Navajo, 1Piper PA-34 Seneca, 1 Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander, 2 Cessna 207As, and 1 Cessna 206. Enplanements in the latter year total 217,591.
The fleet in 1986 includes 7 Chieftains, the 2 T-1040s, 1 Cessna 207A, and the Islander. Enplanements reach 130,000.
Vernon Lofstedt Jr. becomes president in early 1987. The 100-employee small regional becomes a “United Express” code-sharing affiliate of the major United Airlines in June and replaces one of its Chieftains with another T-1040.
A Piper Navajo Chieftain with eight aboard loses power after takeoff from Kenai, Alaska, on December 23 and crashes into a house, killing five passengers and the pilot; residents of the abode escape unharmed.
Passenger boardings, however, shrink by 17.1% to 107,772.
In 1988, the T-1040s are replaced by a British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31 and three more PA-31-350s.
The Jetstream is withdrawn in 1989 as three new T-1040s are made available. The United contract is terminated and the company now holds its enplanements confidential.
On December 22, a Piper Navajo Chieftain misses its approach to the uncontrolled airport at Beluga after an all-cargo service from Kenia and crashes into trees about 8 mi. to the NW; the pilot is killed.
The T-1040 fleet is increased to seven in 1990 as all but three Navajo Chieftains are withdrawn.
Following the eruption of Mount Redoubt on the evening of April 6, South Central stops flying from Anchorage when, as spokesperson Dawn McKibbon has it, ash begins falling “pretty good.” After missing six flights, the company resumes flights about 8 a. m. the next morning.
Enplanements this year total 91,423.
One more T-1040 is acquired in 1991, along with a Cessna 207A and a Pilatus Britten-Norman PBN-2 Islander. The three Chieftains are reinstated.
Despite this fleet expansion, passenger boardings decline to 72,629. A total of 679,617 pounds of mail are flown.
Airline employment stands at 90 in 1992 as passenger traffic plunges 32% to 49,172 passengers flown.
Services continue in 1993-1994. During these years, a de Havilland Canada DHC-4 is acquired for all-cargo services.
Following the collapse of both MarkAir and MarkAir Express passenger services earlier in the year, South Central adds scheduled passenger flights between Anchorage and Homer during the fall of 1995. Plans are announced for similar flights between Anchorage and Kenai.
While on final approach to the airport at Nanwalek on December 10, a PA-32, with a pilot and five passengers, encounters strong winds and strikes the end of the runway, sliding 100-ft. to a stop. Three aboard are injured, one seriously.
The workforce in 1996 remains the same as it was four years earlier and the fleet includes 14 aircraft: 6 T-1040s, 4 Navajo Chieftains, and 1 each Islander, Cessna 185, C-206, and C-207A. A total of 50,019 passengers are flown, not including 11,669 on charters.
En route from St. Mary’s to Kenai with freight on January 29, 1997, the DHC-4 with two crew and a load of mining equipment, loses its No. 2 engine. The aircraft is diverted first to Aniak and then to Sparrevohn, where it encounters severe turbulence while trying to land. As a result, the turboprop collides with snow-covered hilly terrain away from the airfield (one dead).
While on its takeoff roll from Beluga Airport on the evening of November 11, a Navajo Chieftain, with one pilot and four passengers, collides with a moose; although the aircraft is badly damaged and the moose is killed, no injuries are reported by those people aboard.
Scheduled customer bookings accelerate 5.8% to 40,567. In addition, 8,302 charter passengers are flown, along with 2.3 million pounds of mail and freight.
Flights continue in 1998. While climbing away from Homer on a service to English Bay on February 6, a Cessna 207A stalls, rolls, and crashes into the ground; the pilot is killed.
Unable to recover from the effects of this latest tragedy, the company now shuts down.
Operations are resumed shortly thereafter, with many flights made on behalf of other operators or concerns. These continue, without headline or incident, into the first month of 2001. While en route Unalaska Island for Anchorage on January 23 on a charter for Majestic Air Cargo with 2,350 pounds of cod milt from Trident Seafoods, a DC-3 with two crew crashes in fog and heavy snow on Table Top Mountain, near Elder Point, Alaska. A fisherman will find the wreckage and report that there are no survivors.