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Freight Dogs Wanted

By Erin Henze

July 26, 2021 – Famous aerobatic pilot Matt Younkin, EAA 864693, is looking for the stories of old “freight dog” pilots. In the hopes of documenting the stories of these heroes, Matt has brought his father’s old Twin Beech, newly restored after almost 20 years sitting partially disassembled.

“I’m planning on putting the airplane together exactly the way it was, and displaying it on the corner of Wittman and Celebration,” Matt said. “My film crew is going to be there, and … [we want to] pull these folks in and document their stories.”

Matt has been heavily involved in the freight pilot world for his entire life, flying during school breaks with his dad on freight runs.

“My dad purchased this airplane the year after I was born,” Matt explained. “I would get to go with him when I was out of school during the Christmas and summer breaks. We would fly down to DFW [Dallas/Fort Worth airport], where we would meet four or five other Twin Beeches on the ramp … they were all good friends.”

With some of his favorite childhood memories being linked to freight flights and the Twin Beech, it wasn’t surprising when Matt started flying air shows with his own Twin Beech. It was at these shows that Matt realized how many interesting stories these freight pilots had.

“When I started flying the air shows in my Twin Beech in 2007, people that used to be freight pilots would often come up to me and compliment me, or sometimes criticize me, on what I was doing with that airplane,” Matt said. “They felt the need to tell me one or two of their stories that would just make the hair on your arms stand up… stories and events that they shouldn’t have survived because all the cards were against them.”

There was no limit to the cargo carried by these pilots. While many carried mail or food, some moved more unusual freight, such as the time Matt’s father carried dolphins and porpoises between aquariums. Many times, these pilots also put their skills to noble uses, such as bringing food and supplies to refugees during disasters or to residents in the Arctic Circle.

“There’s no limit to what they used to use the airplanes for,” Matt said. “I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for the airplanes, and even more so for the pilots who flew them to make a living.”

It is because of all of this that Matt wants to honor freight pilots by documenting their memories.

“I consider these guys to be among my heroes,” Matt said. “What they did with Beech 18s was way more difficult and way more dangerous than what I’m currently doing with mine.”

So, if you are an old “freight dog” and want to share your story, go find Matt and his crew at the corner of Wittman and Celebration.

“Please stop by, give us the opportunity to capture your stories on film,” Matt said. “If you’re camera-shy, stop by anyway and just allow me to shake your hand and say thank you for what you did back in the day when it counted.”

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