Our Samaritan has run the gamut. It started out as a staff plane for the Air University and ended its service as a South Carolina Air National Guard general’s plane. It was also the museum’s first “flyable” aircraft. This short to medium range transport was stationed at Dover Air Force Base in its T-29 version.
The C-131 Samaritan is the military version of the Convair 240/340/440 series of twin-engine commercial airliners. The first Samaritan, a C-131A derived from the Convair 240, was delivered to the Air Force in 1954. It was primarily used by the USAF for aero medical casualty evacuation. The C-131A had large loading doors for stretchers or cargo and was equipped to accommodate 27 stretchers or 37 sitting casualties. In later years, some Samaritans were converted to be used as VIP staff transports under the designation VC-131H.
The first prototype of the Southeast Asia vintage side-firing gunship program used the C-131 airframe.
Nearly all of the USAF’s C-131s left the active inventory in the late-1970s, with a few still serving in Air National Guard units until the mid-1980s.