• North Central Airlines – who knew there were two of them?

    Posted on October 14th, 2012 John Dorcey No comments

    Wisconsin Central Airlines, a former division of Four Wheel Drive Company located in Clintonville, Wisconsin, would in 1952, change its name to North Central Airlines. But before that, six years before, a different North Central Airlines took off from Stevens Point. Who knew there were two North Central Airlines?

    The City of Stevens Point broke ground on its new airport September 12, 1941. After overcoming several challenges, the airport development project was completed and the airport was opened September 20, 1942. Several weeks prior to the airport’s opening, Albert E. Padags was hired to be the city’s first airport manager. Padags came to Stevens Point from Wisconsin Rapids where he had served in the same capacity. Padags also moved his aviation business, Padags Flying Service, to Stevens Point.

    A. E. Padags

    Albert E. Padags, General Manager
    North Central Airlines

    Aviation was soon booming at the new airport. Central State College (UW-Stevens Point) was approved as a Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) school in February, 1942. Due to the CPT contract, Padags Flying Service had nine flight instructors, in addition to Albert, on the payroll. The company also employed two secretaries and a single mechanic. Ten additional T-hangars were constructed on the airport in September, 1943.

    Aviation’s boom continued as the war ended and airline travel expanded. Four airlines approached the city of Stevens Point. Northwest Airlines was first with plans for a Milwaukee hub and service to Stevens Point. Other potential service providers were Duluth Airlines, Great Continent Air Service, and a local carrier. A.E. Padags envisioned an intrastate carrier based at Stevens Point. He named himself general manager, he called the new carrier North Central Airlines, the Indian Trail Route and then he acquired a Douglas DC-3.

    Route and schedule plans called for a morning departure from Wausau to Madison via Stevens Point, then continuing on to Milwaukee. An afternoon departure out of Milwaukee would head north to Sturgeon Bay, continue on to Land O’Lakes, and then return to Wausau. This was certainly an aggressive route structure with a seemingly oversized aircraft.

    Two public relations flights were made in late May, 1946. The first was a five-hour scenic trip over north and northeast Wisconsin. The second flight took 13 Stevens Point dignitaries to Milwaukee where they lunched with John Bohn, Milwaukee’s mayor, and Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lawrence Timmerman.

    The local airline never did carry a paying passenger. The airline and its North Central Airlines name went away for unknown reasons. Wisconsin Central Airlines provided airline service to Stevens Point beginning in 1948. It would, after relocating to Minneapolis in 1952, change its name to North Central Airlines, the Route of the Northliners. Just as A. E. Padags had envisioned, North Central Airlines would serve Stevens Point with DC-3s, except, it was the second North Central Airlines that provided the service.

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