The Aviation Traders ATL-98 Carvair was a large piston-engine transport aircraft. It began as a C-54, converted into an air ferry by Freddie Laker's Aviation Traders (Engineering) Limited (ATL), allowing it to carry 25 passengers and five cars, loaded at the front.
The prototype conversion first flew on 21 June 1961. Twenty-one Carvairs were produced in England, with production of aircraft 1, 11 and 21 at Southend Airport and the balance at Stansted Airport. The final three aircraft were delivered to Ansett Australia, which supplied its own DC-4s to ATL for conversion, unlike the previous 18 aircraft that were purchased by ATL and either sold on or transferred to associate company British United Air Ferries (BUAF). One of the two aircraft still flying in June 2007 is an ex-Ansett airframe. A second Ansett aircraft was abandoned at Phnom-Penh in 1975. The first flight of the last conversion, number 21, for Ansett, was on the 12 July 1968.
British United Carvairs made appearances in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger, and in The Prisoner in the episode "The Chimes of Big Ben", where it is seen loading through the nose, taking off and then landing again.
Of the 21 airframes, eight were destroyed in crashes (one each in Rotterdam, Holland 1962; Karachi, Pakistan 1967; Twin Falls, Canada 1968; Le Touquet, France 1971; and four in the USA: Miami, FL 1969; Venetie, AK 1997; Griffin, GA also in 1997; and McGrath, AK in 2007.) Perhaps the best known Carvair crash was the one at Griffin in April 1997, where on its take-off run the (5th production) Carvair suffered catastrophic engine failure, failed to become properly airborne, and crashed into a vacant Piggly Wiggly supermarket past the airport perimeter, killing both pilots.
Another Carvair (N898AT, the 20th built) had been airworthy but was written off after crashing while landing on 30 May 2007 at the airstrip at Nixon Fork Mine in Alaska.
It is believed that the remains of the 7th Carvair still remain on a sand and gravel bar in the Chandalar River near Venetie, Alaska. The cockpit section of the 8th Carvair, CF-EPV remains near the former Halesworth Airfield in Suffolk, England, and the 18th Carvair, ex Aviaco / Dominicana HI-172, is rumored to still exist at the Hotel El Embajador in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, as a bar/discotheque.