From the Hangars

Artifact Spotlight: The Airport Ramp Workhorse

Sep 15, 2017

Here at the Delta Flight Museum our aircraft get a lot of attention. Whether it’s the recently opened 747-400 or crowd-pleasing DC-3 Ship 41, each one is celebrated for its service and time in the air. But what about equipment on the ground? It is time we give some love to the Ground Service Equipment (GSE) team!

Bags get from point A to point B thanks to the GSE and Ramp teams and the towing tractors, or "tugs" they use. At the Museum, we house two older tugs made by Clark Equipment Co. that used to do just that.

This 1940s Clark “Clarktor” baggage tug was the oldest piece of ground service equipment owned by Delta Air Lines when it was restored in 1990. 

Clarktor Tug 

The tug was purchased from the U.S. Department of Navy by Northeast Airlines in December 1961, for $5,000, and came to Delta when two airlines merged in 1972. It spent most of its life at New York-LaGuardia airport, and finally at Denver airport until late July 1989. At the time of its restoration, it had been overhauled five times and traveled over 53,000 miles.

Clarktor Tug

Ron Anderson, from Delta's Tooling GSE (Ground Support Equipment) shop, and Milton Miller, from Delta's Stations division, coordinated the tug's restoration. Thank you for all the hard work that went into restoring our beautiful tug!

This Clark tug, known as a Clarkat CK-30, was a gift of the Mercury Air Group. 

Clarkat Tug

With a more streamlined design than the Clarktor, the Clarkat CK-30 was manufactured in the mid 1970s, but the body was modified in the 1980s to support a larger engine.

In fact, the larger engine helped tug the DC-3 Ship 41 into position in our Prop Era Hangar (Hangar 1) at the Museum today!

Clarkat Tug  

In July 2003, the tug was overhauled by Delta technicians and painted Delta Blue. It was restored by Dana Alexander, Eddie Faulkner, Randy Marko, and Daniel Lewis. This Clarkat never looked so good!

The life of a tug is one of longevity. These beasts of burden support Delta’s fine people on the ground every day, and though the ones here at the museum are mostly stationary, each is still capable of lugging and tugging bag carts or even a DC-3!

The life of our tugs is a true testament to the skill of the teams that helped restore and preserve them.

Austin Coleman

Archives Assistant


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  1. Lee walker | Nov 10, 2023
    we at fleetpride truck service have one of delta’s tugs to push big trucks in our shop it’s got a Chrysler flat head 678, which runs very well to this day, and very strong
  2. William ( Bill ) Switzer | Nov 13, 2017


    Looks much better than the ONE we had at PAH for the few years we had jet service.. And you should have seen the Ground Power Unit we used on the CV 440's in the 50's & 60's !


    We once used the power unit to push a railroad tie to move show from ramp. Had to Mop ice off wings,etc when necessary. Had a ex- Luffwaff pilot  ( I think )  takeoff from taxiway in a DC3- Had a double engine change on a DC -9 with engine flown in  on a Hurcules and another trucked from ATL.  Had three agents and one mgr operating our station in good harmony with each other and with our regular passengers who for 99 percent of the time behaved like human species should act.   

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