Third customer to buy the commercial version of the CL44
Slick Airways was founded in January 1946 by Earl F. Slick. It began operations
on 4th March 1946. At that time Slick operated a fleet of ten Curtiss C-46E
aircarft purchased from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. During the first few
years, the airline was the first U.S. freight carrier and was selected as one of the
scheduled freight carriers in 1949. The DC-6B passenger aircaft entered service with
United Air Lines on April 11th 1951, and Slick Airways was the first airline to
operate the DC-6A freighter on April 16th 1951.
By 1951-52 Slick Airways was the largest all-cargo
commercial operator, as Flying Tigers supported their operations mainly with financially
interesting military contracts. With the everincreasing competition of passenger airlines
trying to sell their excessive freight capacities, Slick was forced to enter into merger
negotiations with Flying Tigers. The two airlines agreed to merge on March 26th
1953. Approvel of their respective shareholders was obtained on August 6th
1953. Against the protests of the passenger airline competition, the CAB approved the
merger on January 7th 1954. But then the CAB own lawyers objected the deal, and
finally labour problems in both companies became very acute. Therefore, the companies
decided reluctantly to drop the merger proposals on September 20th 1954.
With the financial situation degrading constantly on its
scheduled services, Slick decided to abandon all scheduled commitments as from February 24th
1958. The airline managed to survive financially and decided to diversify by buying the
Illinois Shade Cloth Company in July 1960 for $6.350.000. Simultaneously it ordered six
Lockheed GL 207 Super Hercules freighter aircrafts, but this deal never materialized.
Instead four Canadair CL-44D4-6 were ordered on October 16th 1959. First commercial
flight of this aircraft for Slick Airlines was made on February 11th 1962 on a
military contract flight from San Francisco to Manila. On October 1st 1962 the
airline's route 101, a transcontinental scheduled service was reinstated.
However the airline's fortunes declined once again
and on August 27th 1965, the CAB authorized suspension of scheduled services.
Airlift International acquired the assets being used on Slick's military operations
on July 1st 1966 and route 101 on July 22nd 1968. Slick became a
financial holding company called Slick Corporation owning beside the Illinois Shade
business also the Drew Chemical Company, which was purchased on February 19th
1968, and a Pulverising Machinery Plant. Slick Corporation was also a minority shareholder
in Airlift International.