This Pro Air Martin 404 with a tail fin number of N255S popped up into my view one day while driving down some country roads on my way to Paris, Texas. This abandoned airplane was sitting in a pretty green field off the side of the road with no fence around it. I immediately pulled over and jump out of my car and took some urban exploration photos of this plane.
Pro Air Martin 404 N255S History
I learned some really cool things about the aircraft when I got home and researched it. It’s history is pretty interesting. I learned about it from Noel Kern’s post on Flickr and Leon Aldridge’s article in the Mount Pleasant Tribune.
The Glenn L. Martin Company built the plane in 1952. It flew under three different airlines. First, it flew for a small airline company called Air South. In 1975 Florida Airlines acquired Air South giving the Martin 4-0-4 a new home. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 made it very hard for Florida Airlines to compete with the lager airlines. So, in 1982 they ceased operations.
Pro Air Services, based out of Miami, Florida, purchased the N255S in the 1980’s and put it into service. It was with them until they went under in 1988. Today, she still sports her Pro Air colors with the all the usual signs of decay from the years outside. There are also a few bullet holes in her, no doubt from some locals playing target practice.
Flying Tigers Airport & Museum in Paris, Texas
This aircraft is parked is parked on the former site of the now defunct Flying Tiger Airport & Flight Museum in Paris, Texas. Isaac Newton Burchinal, Jr. founded the airport in the 1970’s. In the 1950’s he collected leftover military planes and fulfilled dreams for anyone wanting to learn to fly them. He also flew as a stunt pilot for Universal Studios along the way. His planes were featured in movies like “The Great Waldo Pepper” and “Midway.” They were also in the television series, “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.” He has since passed away and I believe the plane is now owned by either his son or grandson.
A website called Sunshine Skies dedicated to the history of commuter planes in Georgia and Florida has some great photos of the plane from the 1980’s when it was still flying. Here’s one of the plane in the 1980’s at the Miami International airport: