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 John Schmidt (dc8schmidt@twc.com) | Home > 
The Accidental Airliner July 2019
An enormously successful Commuter Airliner program was certainly not the objective when Ed Swearingen first mated a new pressurized fuselage to Beech Queen Air wings, and twin Bonanza landing gear. The result was the SA26 Merlin. Its original Lycoming Engines were quickly replaced by P&W PT6s, and shortly thereafter, Garrett TPE 331s, to create the Merlin IIs. The Merlin IIs were essentially seen as competitors to the King Air 90, and 87 of the IIs were built.
In 1972 the Merlin III was introduced with new wings, nacelles and landing gear.  This model was ultimately stretched to create the Merlin IV, and the Metro commuter liner version. Although initial sales were mostly for the Merlin IV, it's not entirely fair to refer to the airliner as an accident. More accurately an unexpectedly favorable development. The Metro simply clobbered the Beech 99 and Twin Otters that were in service at the time with speed and pressurization.
The development costs had depleted Swearingen 's funds, resulting in a buyout by Fairchild, which was better equipped to develop the airliner sales as well as corporate market.
The rest as they say, is history with over 600 metros sold, serving airlines world wide. Following are cards of Metroliners, and a few of its predecessors.
Album by John Schmidt. 1 - 62 of 62 Total. 2200 Visits.
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Enlarge photo 1
Euralair Merlin II B KCF
The original Merlins featured Beech Queen Air wings and tail. This IIB model was equipped with the first Garrett turboprop engines, which would be used on future developments.
The card is actually issued by Euralair, and is kindly shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 2
Dutch National Aerospace Lab Metro II  KCF
This card issued by the Dutch Aerospace Lab shows a Metro as well as a Beech Queen Air. The Queen Air clearly shows wing and tail employed by the Merlin IIB shown on the previous card.

Enlarge photo 3
Belgian Air Force Merlin IIIA #1 KCF
The Belgian Air Force ordered 6 Merlin IIIAs in 1975. The Merlin shown on this Belgian Air Force issue shows the new tail assembly used on all subsequent models. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 4
Swearingen Merlin IV KCF
This Swearingen Issue, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu, shows the final Merlin IV configuration

Enlarge photo 5
Skyways of Scandinavia Fleet #1 KCF
An excellent postcard view of the Swearingen Metro III, alongside a Merlin III. Although no titles are evident, both aircraft were operated by Skyways of Scandinavia, and the card is a Skyways issue. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 6
Air Wisconsin SA226TC Metro
Air Wisconsin essentially "launched" the Metro, taking delivery of this aircraft, N260S, in April of 1973. For a number of years Air Wisconsin operated exclusively Metros, and promoted its speed as compared with it's predecessor Twin Otters.
This aircraft left the fleet in 1981.

Enlarge photo 7
Air Shenpix SA226TC Metro #1 KCF
This incredible card, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu, shows another original Metro, which is evident from the smaller circular windows. The aircraft, JA22PT, was delivered in 1974 to the Chilean Police Department. It arrived at Air Shenpix 28 years later, after serving a number of commuter airlines and entities along the way.
After serving 5 years with Air Shenpix, it went to Skyway International in Florida in 2007 and is apparently still active.

Enlarge photo 8
AMA Air Express operated a number of Metros in the mid 1980s, which became Salair aircraft when the airline was absorbed. This one, SE IKP, was delivered new to Superflight Air Service of Denmark, and is current with Flightline of Spain.
"Card by courtesy Of Eddy Van..."
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Enlarge photo 9
Air Montreal Metro II
This nice looking Metro II was built for Northern Airlines of Australia in 1980. It operated there for 2 years and went to France with Compagnie Aerienne Languedoc, operating for 11 years.
It joined Air Montreal in 1994, and operated for 6 years. It's final operator was a Kenyan air charter line where it crashed into a mountain in 2003.
Card is an Air Montreal issue by M.A.G.I.

Enlarge photo 10
Air New Zealand Link Metro III
A very nice Air New Zealand issue of ZK-NSU, a Metro III model, built for GPA leasing in1988. After serving briefly with Air Kentucky and Pocono Airlines it went to Air New Zealand Link in April 1990, and served for 12 years. It Now resides with Jetfast Aviation in Australia.

Enlarge photo 11
Air Oregon Metro II
A rarely seen postcard view of  one
of Air Oregon's 6  Metro IIs, delivered in 1978 and 79. In 1982 it was acquired by Horizon and returned to Fairchild.
In 1984 it was sold to Air Virginia, and became an American Eagle in 1988.
It now belongs to Zorex Air Transport in Spain. The card is an IAWP Historical Issue.

Enlarge photo 12
Air Virginia Metro II
A nice postcard view from Mary Jayne's of Air Virginia's N125AV, delivered in October 1980. In 1985, it became an American Eagle aircraft, operating until sold to a leasing company in 1995.
It then entered service with Sunbird Aviation of Ohio, and is shown on the Sunbird issue below.

Enlarge photo 13
American Eagle  Metro III
An outstanding postcard view of an American Eagle Metro III. N3118N was delivered to AVAir in July 1985, to operate American Eagle flights. After leaving American Eagle in 1992, it operated for a number of airlines in Australia, but returned to the US with Bemidji Airlines in 2010.

Enlarge photo 14
Atlantis (US) Metro IIA
This beautiful Metro is the only one that operated for Atlantis. It was delivered new in 1981, but by 1983 new Jetstreams were arriving. It left Atlantis to operate for Provincial Airlines in Canada, and was sold in 2000 to Aeronaves TSM of Mexico, where it is still active.
Card is a Mary Jayne's issue.

Enlarge photo 15
Austrian Metro II #1
Austrian took delivery of this Metro II in 1981. OE LSD operated several years before acquisition by a Belgian leasing co. Later flew for European Air Transport, TAT, and Air Limousin. Its final stop was Serib Wings in Italy. It is now preserved.
Card is a JPB issue.

Enlarge photo 16
Bearskin Metro
Bearskin Airlines began replacing their fleet of Beech 99s in 1993, taking delivery of their first Metro 23 model. This excellent Bearskin issue, presumably of a 23 is one of my favorite Metro cards. The airline has operated a total of 18 Metro III and 23 models, and continues today.

Enlarge photo 17
Big Sky Metro
Big Sky was a successful independent commuter, replacing Frontier in a number of markets. Shown on this excellent Big Sky issue is N117 BS, their first Metro delivered in September of 1980.
In 1988 they became a Northwest Air Link, operating as many as 29 Metros, and later operated as a Delta Connection,  but ultimately suffered the fate of many code share partners ending in final bankruptcy in 2008.

Enlarge photo 18
Britt Metro II
During Britt's years as an independent Regional airline, they operated as many as 20 Metros.  This one, N326BA, shown at LaFayette, In. was originally delivered to Rio in 1978. It was acquired by Britt in 1983 and operated for 9 years. After a series of leases it Joined Key Lime in 2003 and continues to operate.

Enlarge photo 19
City Air Metro III #1
City Air of Germany, previously called Tag Air, acquired a single Metro from OLT in 2000 to initiate passenger services. In this 1st City Air issue,  the TAG remains on the airliner.
D COLC, shown on the card was originally an American Eagle airliner delivered in 1988.

Enlarge photo 20
City Air Metros
In March of 2001 City Air took delivery of 2 new Metro 23s, shown on this excellent company issue. The new Metros served only 2 years, and we're replaced by Saab 340s.
Both are active today with charter services.

Enlarge photo 21
City Air Metros #2 KCF
A final City Air issue shared by Kuo-Ching Fu, shows the complete, but short lived, 3 Metro fleet in 2001.

Enlarge photo 22
Comair Metro III
Comair, a major Metro user was launched in 1977 with Piper Navajos. In 1983 the airline received its first Metro, and soon thereafter became a Delta Connection carrier at Cincinnati, while retaining its corporate identity.
Comair operated 27 Metros, and in the relationship grew to become a very large and successful airline, ultimately bought by Delta.
The Metros were being replaced by larger aircraft in the early 1990s, and this one, N31113, went to Mohawk in Feb. 1992. Now WFU in Puerto Rico.

Enlarge photo 23
Crossair Metro #2
Crossair was launched in 1979, with a small fleet of Metro IIs, that eventually grew to 12.
The airline quickly outgrew the Metros, and this one, HB LLA, the first Metro delivered, was sold to Magnum of South Africa in 1983.

Enlarge photo 24
Crossair Metro #1
An excellent Crossair issue of their 4th Metro, HB LLD. It went to Air Cargo Spain in 1985, and ultimately arrived at Baires Fly of Argentina where it is active today.

Enlarge photo 25
Crossair Metro #3
In my view, the best Crossair issue is this in flight view of HB LLF, the 6th Metro delivered to Crossair in Sept 1981. It was sold to Comair in 1987, and written off in a landing accident in 1990.

Enlarge photo 26
Delta  Air Metro #1bd
Delta Air of Germany operated a single Metro, shown on this excellent card shared by Bernd Dienel. D IASN, shown above was one of the original Crossair Metro IIs delivered in 1979. It went to Delta Air in August of 1982, operating until DBR in a landing accident at Friedrichshafen in December 1985.

Enlarge photo 27
Denver Air Connection Metro
Denver Air Connection, one of the last independent commuters, has provided flights from Grand Junction, Sheridan, and Riverton to Denver International Airport using Metros and a Dornier 328 Jet.
Shown on this Airliners International issue is N820DC, a Metro 23 model delivered new to Aerolitoral of Mexico in 1993. It came to Key Lime Air in 2004 as a passenger liner for DAC, and is still serving.

Enlarge photo 28
Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht Merlin IV  #2 KCF
A very unusual airline issue from German Air Rescue. This Metro was delivered new to Bat-Air Flugdienst in 1982, and was sold
to German Air Rescue in 1984. In 1988 it went to Air Botnia for 5 years. In 1995 it went to Australia with Jetcraft and in 2008 was sold to Toll Aviation where it was written off at Brisbane in February 2012.

Enlarge photo 29
Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht Merlin IV KCF
This is a very unusual sticker card of the same aircraft. Both cards shared by
Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 30
Eastern  Airways (UK) Metro 23
Eastern Airways began in 1997 with a leased Flugfelag Islands Metro. This strange Eastern issue shows the aircraft still wearing paint and logo from Flugfelag Islands. The Metro didn't last long as Eastern grew and developed a fleet of Jetstreams.
This aircraft, one of the last Metros built is current with Toll Aviation in Australia

Enlarge photo 31
Empire Metro
Empire, started as an interstate airline with Navajos, added this, their first Metro II in June of 1977. The airline prospered, adding 6 more Metros, and making the leap in 1980 to F-28-4000s.
When Piedmont acquired the airline, the Metros were sold. This one went to Quebecair, and remained in Canada until written off in 1996 operating for Propair.

Enlarge photo 32
European Air  Metro II #1
Eurpean Air took delivery of their first of 2 new Metro IIs in February of 1976. But, in the Mid to late 80s, they acquired 9 more from several Airlines.
This one, OO VGA, was squired from Trans Adria in September of 1986. After a short career with European Air it was leased briefly to TAT, and then was sold to Intair of Canada. It joined Air Montreal in 1992, and was sold to Perimeter in 1996, where it continues to operate today.

Enlarge photo 33
Grand  Metro III
This excellent Grand Airways issue is my favorite Metro card. It's career started in Israel in 1981 with Arkia, but was sold to Pioneer Airlines in December 1982. It passed through Mid State and Air Kentucky before delivery to Grand in October 1990. This was one of 7 Metros operated by Grand, mostly shuttling passengers from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Airport.

Enlarge photo 34
Hahn Air Metro III #1 KCF
This is a rare Hahn Air Issue of one of their Merlin IV aircraft at Stuttgart. D CNAY, shown on the card was originally built for a UPS contractor in 1981. It made a number of stops with various charter operators before arriving at Hahn Air in 2004.
In 2007 it was acquired by Regional Air Express in Germany, and is still active.
Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 35
Holstenflug Merlin IV A
This Merlin IV was delivered new to Holstenflug in 1978. It operated charters for a short time before sale to Digital Equipment in 1979. It spent 4 years with Ratioflug between other corporate operators, and is now flying for Westair Cargo in the Ivory Coast.

Enlarge photo 36
Horizon Metro III #2
This is an outstanding Horizon Air issue of N3113Z, one of an astounding 42 Metros operated by the airline. This Metro III model was delivered new to Horizon in November, 1983. It served for ten years and went to Conquest in 1993. After some other stops it arrived at Key Lime Air in 2014 and continues in service.

Enlarge photo 37
Intair Metro II
A nice postcard view of C GQAJ, a Metro II delivered to Empire in 1979. In 1987 it went to Quebec, serving with Inter Canadian, later to become Intair. Like a number of other Metros, it was acquired by Perimeter in 2000, where it continues to operate today.
A Gatineau Airport issue.

Enlarge photo 38
Luxair Metro
Luxair acquired 2 Metro IIIs for thin routes in 1986 and 1987. This one, LX LGL, shown on a Luxair issue, was delivered in July of 1986, operating until July 1990. It was later acquired by Northeast Express operating as a Northwest Air Link, and in 1994 went to Bearskin, where it is currently operating.

Enlarge photo 39
Magnum Metro
Magnum was a successful South African regional Airline, operating Navajos and ironically, the Swearingen Excalibur, ( the 1st predecessor to the Merlin). In 1981 they acquired their first of 4 Metro IIs, ZS-LAA.
It operated with Magnum (later becoming Airlink) until 1995 when it transferred to various corporate owners. Currently with CA Aviation in Springfield MO.

Enlarge photo 40
Manx 2 Metro 23 #1 KCF
Manx 2 was launched in 2006 operating flights out of Isle of Man airport to assorted destinations. Aircraft were operated by independent contractors with Metro aircraft. Shown on this rare Manx 2 issue from Kuo-Ching Fu is D CNAG, operated by FLM aviation of Germany.

Enlarge photo 41
Midway Connection Metro #1
Certainly the brightest Metro livery was this Midway Connection Metro 23, delivered in 1993. Its service was brief, as it was returned to Fairchild in July 1994.
In 1996 it went to Tamair in Australia, serving until sold to Linea Aerea Amaszonas of Bolivia in 2005. Northern Wings leasing acquired it in 2013.
Card is an IAWP Historical Issue.

Enlarge photo 42
Mohawk Metro
A short lived and little known reincarnation of Mohawk Airlines was attempted by Robert Peach Jr, the son of the former Mohawk President. In its last years, 5 Metros were leased, including N3005J shown on this IAWP Historical issue. It operated less than a year before the shut down of the airline. The aircraft had originally operated for Pioneer, later serving Pocono and Chautauqua.

Enlarge photo 43
N F D  Metro
N F D operated a fleet of 10 Metros from 1983 through the formation of Eurowings in 1993. D-CABE, shown on this NFD issue did not operate for Eurowings, but was leased to Saxonia Airlines. In 1997, it was sold to Hahn Air, and in 2000 it went to Rijnmond Air Services, where it was written off in 2005.

Enlarge photo 44
Northwest  Airlink Metro
Mesaba operated a fleet of 28 Metro III and 2 Metro 23s, performing Northwest AirLink flights out of Minneapolis and Detroit. The Metro fleet served from the mid 1980s through the late 1990s. A substantial number of them are current with Ameriflight. The card is an excellent Mesaba Issue

Enlarge photo 45
O L T  Metro
A nice OLT issue of D COLT, a Metro III model delivered new to American Eagle in January 1988. In 1993 it went to Conquest Air in Texas, and finally arrived at OLT in June 1995, serving until September 2010.
It flew for Sierra West from 2010 to 2012, and was sold to Encore Air Cargo, where it currently operates.

Enlarge photo 46
Pioneer (New) Metro III #1
Pioneer Airlines of Denver operated a total of 10 Metro IIIs from 1982 until the collapse of the Airline in 1986. N 30693, shown on this Pioneer issue, was delivered in February 1982. After the shutdown it flew as TW Express for 5 years. In 1991 Grand Airways acquired the aircraft, operating until 1995, when sold to Jetcraft Aviation in Australia. It is still operating there with Toll Aviation.

Enlarge photo 47
R F G  Metro
This is an excellent RFG issue showing their Metro II D ICRK. Originally delivered to Arkia in Israel, it went to RFG in 1985. After the merger with NFD forming Eurowings in 1993, it served with Saxonia and Bin Air.  WFU in 2011.

Enlarge photo 48
R F G Fleet #1 KCF
This is a multi panel RFG issue showing Metros as well as a Merlin IV. A rare card shared by Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 49
Rio Metro
Rio Airways acquired their 1st new Metro II in October of 1978, strangely while continuing to add Beech 99  and Twin Otter aircraft. N45RA, shown on this Rio issue, was the 2nd Metro delivered of a total of 9. It operated for 4 years and was sold to Air Midwest in 1982. After sale to a leasing company it passed through a number of operators until acquisition by IBC AIrways in 1995. Now WFU.

Enlarge photo 50
Roland Air Metros
Roland Air, founded in 1978 grew from a fleet of 5 Islanders in the late 1980s to 7 Metros by 1995. In 1996, the airline became part of OLT, which contined to operate it under the Roland name. Card is an excellent OLT issue, showing the Roland fleet of Metros.

Enlarge photo 51
Skyways Metro
One of the really successful early commuters was Scheduled Skyways. Previously a Beech B99 operator, Skyways took delivery of their first Metro II in October of 1976.  As the airline grew, the Metro fleet increased to 13, 7 of which were obtained from Air Wisconsin.
N505SS, shown on this Skyways issue operated from 1979 until the merger with Air Midwest in 1985. With Air Midwest it operated for Eastern, Trans World and US Air. It went to Superior aviation in 1995, and was broken up in 2004.

Enlarge photo 52
Skyways (Sweden) Metro III
This great looking Skyways Metro was built for Bohnstedt Peterson of Denmark in 1982. In November 1984 it was bought by the Swedish Air Force, operating for 2 years before resale to Skyways.
Like a number of others, this airliner went to Jetcraft in Australia in 1993, and later to Toll Aviation in 2006.

Enlarge photo 53
Southern  Metro
In the early to mid 1970s, Southern was operating a fleet of DC-9 jets for their major  routes, alongside aging Martin 404 airliners for short and thin segments. Southern had shunned the F-27s and Turboprop Convairs, and was left with a decision to make on replacement aircraft.
The daring choice was the new Metro Commuter airliner which offered great economics, but limited passenger appeal. Southern opted for the economics and operated the Metros from 1977 through the merger with North Central.
Shown on this IAWP historical card is their first Metro, N5389M, which became N60U upon delivery.
After the merger, Republic sold the Metro fleet to Britt in 1980 and 81. Although Southern was the first (and only) Regional Airline to acquire Metros, the aircraft became a staple of the major airlines through their code sharing commuter affiliates.

Enlarge photo 54
Sunbird (Ohio) Metro #1
Sunbird Air Services was an FBO and Charter Airline based in Springfield Ohio. N125AV, shown on this uncommon airline issue, was delivered new to Air Virginia in October 1980. In 1989 it was sold to a leasing company. and arrived at Sunbird in 1996. In 2002 it was sold to Carson Air in Canada and is still active.

Enlarge photo 55
Swedish Air Force Merlin IV #1 KCF
Golden Air of Sweden operated 4 Metros, plus one Merlin IV, delivered in 1985. In July of 1986 the Merlin IV was sold to the Swedish Air Force. It operated as 88002 in Sweden for 7 years, and joined North American Airlines in Canada in 1993. From 2004 to 2015 it served with IBC in Miami and is now operating for Carson Air in Canada.
Card is a beautiful Swedish Air Force issue shared by Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 56
TAT Metro II #1
France's T A T has operated a huge assortment of Airliners, only 4 of which were Metros. This one, F GFGE, was delivered to Trans Adria in 1979. It was bought by European Air Transport in 1987 and leased to TAT.
Card is an Editions PI issue.
It was then sold to Intair in Canada in 1989, passed to Air Montreal in 1992, and joined the 24 other Metros at Perimeter in 1998.

Enlarge photo 57
TW Express Metro III
Originally a Horizon Aircraft, N3108X went to Trans World Express operator Resort Airways in 1985. TW  Express Metris were phased out in favor of Jetstreams, and this aircraft went to leasing company AVline, serving with Skywest, Air LA, and  UPS operator  Merlin Express.
In 1996 it went to Australia with Jetcraft, and remains there with Toll Aviation.

Enlarge photo 58
Tamair Metro III #1 KCF
An excellent postcard view of Tamair's Metro III VH NEK. This one was built for American Eagle in 1985. Fairchild actually repurchased the aircraft and sold it to Tamair in November 1993. It was sold to BKS of Spain in 2000,and Mediterranean Air Freight in 2003, where it is still active. Card is a logoed unidentified publisher, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 59
Trans Central Metro #1
An early Trans Central issue, showing N63Z, one of the Southern Airways fleet delivered in 1977. It was acquired in 1980 from Republic, and sold to Britt in 1983, where it was written off at Terre Haute.

Enlarge photo 60
Trans Central Metro #2
The later Trans Central livery is shown on this excellent card of the prototype Metro III, delivered to Trans Central in 1981. It became N67TC after delivery. The plane was a true airline Gypsy, flying for Pioneer, Trans Colorado, Pocono, Lone Star and Grand, before purchase by North Flying of Denmark in 1995. Written of at Oslo in 2011

Enlarge photo 61
Western  Express Metro
This Western Express (operated by SkyWest) Metro III was delivered in October 1986. It operated 10 years before lease to KAL (later Ver-Avia) of Greece. Purchased by JP Air of Estonia in 2008, and still current.

Enlarge photo 62
Wings West Metro #2
One of the best Airline issued Metros is this very nice Wings West in flight view. Delivered new to Wings West in December 1982. It operated until 1991. It then became a Lone Star airliner, operating until 1994.
Merlin Airways acquired it in 1994 to operate for UPS. It became a Key Lime aircraft in 2004.

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