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HANGAR ONE STEAKHOUSE - 5925 W. Kellogg - Wichita, Kansas 67206

PHOTO ALBUM DIRECTORY

  The History of El Avion

 

   
 

 
 
 


C-123 in Action

Our Fairchild C-123 was a part of one of the biggest scandals in the mid 1980's. During this time, the Reagan Administration had set up a bizarre network of arms sales to Iran designed to win release of US hostages being held in Lebanon and raise money to fund the Nicaraguan, counter-revolutionary guerilla fighters, commonly referred to as the "Contras." By artificially inflating the prices of the arms, NSA official Oliver North, was able to reap profits that could be diverted to fund the counter-revolutionaries of the Cuban allied Sandinista government.  
 
  Of the $16 million in profits raised, only $3.8 million actually funded the Contras. With the CIA's help, they purchased several items, including two C-123 cargo planes (one of which is our plane), two C-7 planes, a Maule aircraft, spare parts, and munitions. They also built a secret airstrip on an American-owned, 30,000 acre ranch in northwest Costa Rica. On October 5, 1986, a US cargo plane (the twin sister) of El Avion's own Fairchild C-123, was shot down over southern Nicaragua. One of the crewmembers, C.I.A operative Eugene Hasenfus, parachuted to safety and was captured by the Sandinista army. Led out of the jungle at gun point, Hasenfus's very existence set in motion an incredible chain of cover-ups and lies that would mushroom into one of the biggest scandals in American political history known as the Iran-Contra Affair. As a result of this successful Sandinista strike on our Fairchild's sister plane, the cargo operation was suspended and one of the C-123s was abandoned at the International Airport in San Jose.


...Hasenfus' Capture

 
 
n August 2000, we purchased the abandoned Fairchild for $3,000. We then disassembled and shipped the pieces of the Iran-Contra relic to Quepos. From San Jose, the fuselage was shipped via ocean ferry (from Caldera to Quepos) because it was 10 inches too wide for the antiquated Chiquita Banana railroad bridges! After hauling all seven aircraft sections up the Manuel Antonio hill, the C-123 finally found its current cliff-side resting-place.

Now, our C-123 has been retired to less risqué endeavors as a restaurant, bar, coffee store, and an enduring Cold War relic.

Read more about the Iran Contra scandal in the following New York Times' articles. . .

 

  American Is Captured After Plane Is Downed in Nicaragua Territory

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 - An American-built cargo plane that was shot down over southern Nicaragua on Sunday was operated by a private group led by a retired United States Army major general Reagan Administration officials said today.The officials said the plane was operated by an organization headed by the retired general, John K. Singlaub, and had taken off from El Salvador. It had flown down the Pacific coast of Nicaragua and turned inland to deliver ammunition and supplies to rebels seeking to open a southern front against the Sandinista Government in Managua.Spokesmen for the Administration, the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense all emphatically denied that the flight was in any way connected with the United States Government

  C.I.A. Denies a Role-Aides Point to PrivateRightist Organization

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 - President Reagan strongly suggested today that he approved of efforts by private American citizens to help Nicaraguan insurgents fighting the Sandinista Government, including those Americans who sent in a cargo plane that was shot down on Sunday.But Administration officials disclosed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had opened what was described as a "preliminary investigation" of those private activities as possible violation of American neutrality laws.Even so, President Reagan compared the efforts of private citizens at this time to those of Americans who joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the 1930's to fight alongside Spanish Republican soldiers against Franco and his rightist Insurgents.

 
C-123 K Provider
 
The 1954 model, C-123 paratroop/cargo plane, provided by the CIA and Ollie North for the Contra/Sandinista 1980's guerilla war in Nicaragua, in the San Jose airport before disassembly.
 
The time-worn cockpit; detaching the wings and the start of the take-apart job.
 
Removal of the tail and wings begins...
 
The wings are lifted off the fuselage, which is shortly to be a cut in half.
 
Towing the plane to Port Caldera, the nearest sea port to the international airport.
 
After loading the C-123 on to the ferry, we hit the high seas; arrival at Port Quepos.
 
  
The fuselage being unloaded at Port Quepos.
 
Winding our way through downtown Quepos...
   
 
 
Arrival in Manuel Antonio and the start of reconstruction.

 

 
 
 
Putting the finishing touches on 'Ollie's Folly'; the C-123 finds its final resting place on a hill 300 meters above the hotel reception
 

Now El Avion is ready to serve up a food, drinks and beautiful sunsets!

 

Join us under the wing at our restaurant or in the fuselage at our pub.