DC-2 - DC-3 - C-47 - Turbo DC-3 News
Basler Turbo Conversions Update – August 4, 2022
#68 - N1350A - complete and painted in military gray colors
On September 2, 2021 I published a report on my August 27, 2021 visit to Basler Turbo Conversions in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Nigel Hitchman attended AirVenture in July 2022 and toured the Basler facility photographing aircraft undergoing conversion and parked on the ramp and storage area. Here’s the latest build status through conversion #72.
#69 - N941AT - nearing completion
#70 - CF-YQG/N856RB - early stages of conversion
#71 - N700CA - parked on ramp outside hangar with rudder missing and preliminary stripdown well underway
#72 - N227GB - early stages of conversion - still in warbird colors
C-FDTB - during my August 2021 visit, this aircraft was slated to be #71 but N700CA was substituted and aircraft is parked in storage area
Many thanks to Nigel for his photos and to Basler President Joe Varkoly for filling in some missing blanks about conversion numbers.
Yukon Sourdoug DC-3 Makes AirVenture Debut - July 31, 2022
On July 12, 2009, DC-3 N983DC c/n 12267 took to the skies for the first time since 2009. With pilot Jim Sells and co-pilot Mike Macario at the controls, the aircraft departed Hagerstown Regional Airport and had an almost trouble free first flight. Julie Boatman posted a short article about the first flight on the flyingmag.com website. John Seburn photographed the aircraft in its Hagerstown hangar the day before it departed for its inaugural airshow appearance at AirVenture.
The DC-3 departed for Oshkosh on July 24th and spent almost a week at the airshow before returning to Hagerstown on July 30th. After arriving in Hagerstown, the crew reported "Home safe after a wonderful trip to Oshkosh! This was our first long trip right out of a 13 year hiatus and everything went flawless!" Michael Prophet and Nigel Hitchman caught up to the old girl at Air Venture and got some nice photos of her.
A bit of history on the aircraft. Originally laid down for the USAAF as C-47A 42-92464, it was delivered to the RAF February 7, 1944 and almost immediately transferred to the RCAF on February 18, 1944. After RCAF retirement, it went to Eldorado Aviation as CF-OVW in December 1962. Air North "Yukon Sourdough" acquired it in September 1982 and it was a familiar sight around Canada with its sisters until being sold to the EAA in July 1998 and registered in the U.S. as N983DC. It went to Blue Ridge Piedmont & Chesapeake Airways in January 2003 before being acquired by its current owner, California based Greystone Housing Foundation, in 2020.
Former PBA DC-3 For Sale – July 9, 2022
The following advertisement recently appeared on the BARNSTORMERS.COM website.
DC-3 • FOR SALE • 1941 DC-3A Currently airworthy but still needs TLC. Older mid-time engines. 18 pax seats. Flown about 5 hours in the last year. Call for details. $ 139 K • Contact Christopher Siderwicz - THE MILLS AIR SERVICE INC. , End User - located Marstons Mills , MA 02648 United States • Telephone: 508 360-6181 • Posted June 26, 2022
A bit of history on the aircraft. It was slated to be delivered to United Airlines as NC33649 but was impressed by the USAAF as C-52B 41-7707 and delivered to the military in February 1942. After the war it flew for Northwest, Braniff, Trans Texas and Modern Air Transport before being acquired by Provincetown Boston Airways in July 1974. Ending its airline career in 1988, the DC-3 has been owned by a number of private parties since then, with Chris Siderwicz acquiring it in 2017. It has been based at Marstons Mills - Cape Cod Airport in recent years along with Siderwicz’s other DC-3, N61981.
Opa-locka Airport Visit – July 4, 2022
I visited Opa-locka Airport on Monday June 27, 2022 and photographed the few remaining Propliners that call the airport home. Florida Air Cargo operates DC-3s N15MA, N138FS "Snoopy" and N271SE with Conquest Air Cargo operating CV340/C-131s N342GS "Trumman", N343GS "Uriel" and N345GS "Alice". Conquest also wet leases a single CV580 from IFL Group. The day of my visit, CV580 N171FL departed with a load of cargo to Nassau as did CV340/C-131 N145GS. Florida Air Cargo typically flies to Nassau Tuesday thru Friday so there were no DC-3 flights the day of my visit. In addition Atlantic Air Cargo operates a single DC-3 N705GB. These aircraft are primarily used on the Opa-locka to Nassau run hauling general cargo but also fly occasionally to destinations throughout the Caribbean. Business is very good which keeps the airplanes busy. There are no more stored or derelict Propliners on the field, which has been taken over by corporate jets...they are everywhere!
Another Airworthy DC-3 – June 22, 2022
As reported on April 28, 2019, DC-3 N715F had been undergoing a multi-year outdoor restoration at Hemet-Ryan Field in California. Before that it had been stored at Skylark Field Airport in Lake Elsinore, California for a number of years and hadn’t flown since at least 2001. It’s great news that this airplane has defied all odds and was photographed by Karolina Marek at Mesa-Falcon Field in Arizona on June 13, 2022 in airworthy condition. Karolina reports that the aircraft will be painted in the next few months and promised updates on the aircraft.
Buffalo Airways Red Deer Update – June 21, 2022
John Olafson visited Red Deer Regional Airport on June 1, 2022 and provided the following update to Mike Goberg’s March 21, 2022 report. "I was at Red Deer on June 1st and there was not much to see. The three former Conair Convairs were there and they had G-GYXC in the hangar and it was likely being stripped of anything of value. I could see nothing on the Air Spray ramp and the only thing of interest of Buffalo was DC-4 C-GBNV and it appears to be complete. Maybe its going to be doing some spraying. And C-FDTD was still there but in full view through the fence. Once again, no airside access."
Alaskan Super DC-3 Update – June 4, 2022
As reported on April 18, 2022, repairs to Super DC-3 N28TN were underway and new props had been installed. The aircraft was damaged after making an emergency wheels-up landing at Merrill Field on December 8, 2021 shortly after losing an engine on takeoff from Anchorage International. At that time, Michael Prophet reported that TransNorthern owner Alan Olson hoped to have it back flying in the very near future. Tim Spearman visited Merrill Field on May 15th and reports that the aircraft was "looking great and getting back to full health." Tim's assessment was right on the money as N28TN was flown back to Anchorage International today. Mark Jennings' photo was taken at Anchorage International Airport shortly after its arrival from Merrill Field.
DC-3 Hulk Severely Damaged by Violent Storm – May 27, 2022
Columbus, Indiana based Rhoads Aviation operated a fleet of DC-3’s back in the day and one of its retired DC-3’s had been used at the city's airport for aircraft rescue and firefighter training. On May 21, 2022 a violent storm blew through Columbus Municipal Airport, picking up N139JR and dumping it upside down at the fence line. The airport issued the following statement the next day.
"As we assess the destruction across our community we are saddened to see this aircraft sustain significant damage due to yesterday’s storm. This was an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting trainer owned by the Airport which, due to the engines and other components being removed many years ago, was light and susceptible to wind. Unfortunately, the strapping and other efforts to hold the aircraft to the concrete could not withstand the forces of nature. We will work to see that this historic cargo style DC-3 aircraft will live on as we salvage parts to help other aircraft museums and communities across the US in their maintenance and restoration efforts just as many have helped us with the C-119 proudly on display in front of the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum."
C-53 Restoration Complete – May 8, 2022
Congratulations to Jason Capra and the dedicated group of volunteers at Vintage Wings Inc. on the completion of the multi-year restoration of C-53 41-20095/N34DF 'Beach City Baby'. Jason announced the completion on the group's FB page yesterday.
"As of today, 'Beach City Baby' is physically finished with her restoration and ready for flight. Her last checks completed this past Monday, today the team knocked out weighing the airplane for its Basic Empty Weight & Basic Operating Weight. What started six and a half years ago in a field in Ohio has now been wrapped up in Franklin, Pennsylvania."
"All that remains is the approval of one last form by the FAA and she’s ready for her first flight. Sitting here tonight looking at her, it’s hard to believe this chapter has just finished. Her restoration…done. Unthinkable!"
"Now it’s time to fly. And I personally cannot wait along with all of us at Vintage Wings Inc. to share our beloved gal with all of you. Stay tuned."
Again, kudos and congratulations to all those involved in transforming this once near-derelict airplane into an airworthy work of art!
Desert Air Alaska Leases BT-67 – April 19, 2022
Desert Air Alaska posted a video on YouTube announcing that BT-67 N115U had joined the company’s fleet of DC-3 freighters. Originally acquired by the US Forest Service in June 1964, the DC-3 was converted to turbine power by Basler Turbine Conversions in 1992. The BT-67, registered N115Z, was the last DC-3 type aircraft operated by the US Forest Service when it was retired in December 2015. During its long career with the USFS, it was used to fly smoke jumpers to remote forest fire locations. Basler acquired the aircraft in late 2020 and has dry leased the aircraft to a number of operators since acquiring it. I saw the aircraft during my August 2021 visit to Basler, when it was undergoing routine maintenance before going out on another lease. Here’s some photos of the aircraft from that visit.
TransNorthern Super DC-3 Update – April 18, 2022
Some great news from TransNorthern regarding the company’s two operational Super DC-3’s that were damaged in incidents last year. N30TN was involving in a landing incident at Goodnews, Alaska on August 4, 2021 and N28TN made an emergency wheels up landing at Merrill Field on December 8, 2021 after losing an engine shortly after takeoff from Anchorage International. Michael Prophet recently reached out on Facebook for an update on the status of the aircraft and received a response from TransNorthern owner Alan Larson. "N30TN is still waiting on summer weather to come back to ANC. N28TN just got new props in town last week and will be back in the Air soon. N29TN was donated to the Wounded Warrior Group. They are training mechanics and pilots to work on the transport category radials and hope to fly veterans to remote fishing locations this summer. (It's being worked on in the FedEx hanger on the Anchorage International Airport. N27TN is still at the Wasilla Airport - hasn't been put in service yet since ferried from Florida a few years ago!"
Mystery DC-3 Update – April 16, 2022
As described in my February 16, 2022 report, there is quite a bit of mystery involving the true identity of Fourrier Foundation DC-3/C-47A XA-KTB. "I’ve done a bit of research on the aircraft, which was delivered to TWA as DC-3-209B NC14931 in April 1939 with R1820 engines. It retained that registration with many operators until 1989 when it was registered XA-KTB. A 1984 photo of the aircraft shows it had a hamburger door, pax door and R1820 engines. A 2016 photo of the same aircraft show it without a hamburger door, a cargo door and with R1830 engines. As late as the mid-1980s, DC-3’s with pax doors were fitted with cargo doors but Camille Fourrier told me that he can find no evidence of a hamburger door on the aircraft. Camille says that there is U.S. military ID plates in the cockpit area, but I can find no mention that it was ever impressed by the military during WW II. It’s a mystery that hopefully will be sorted out during the restoration."
Camille recently sent me photos of three data plates installed in the aircraft. Two data plates say the aircraft is DC-3 c/n 2118, while the third says the aircraft is a C-47A 42-23961. He added that the center section part and serial numbers are from a C-47 as are the cockpit panels and wiring. The reinforced flooring is the type installed on C-47 aircraft with no evidence of later modifications.
Joe Baugher’s website has the following information on the C-47A. "42-23961 (MSN 9823) to USAAF Jul 5, 1943. 5th AF 375th TCG 58th TCS Brisbane as 191 14Aug43 flown with Australian radio c/s VHCHM. Dropped paratroops at Nadzab NG as part of B flight numbered 191 05Sep43. Bird strike Oct43. Strafed on ground at Gusap, New Guinea strip No. 3 by Japanese Tonys and destroyed by fire 06Nov43. Condemned 06Nov43, enemy action." So, the mystery continues regarding the true identity of this aircraft. It’s unlikely that it’s 42-23961 since that airplane was destroyed in 1943 but it also appears that it can’t be DC-3 msn 2118 since the fuselage and center section appear to be from a C-47A. At this point, my best guess is that it's a combination of DC-3 and C-47 components that were combined to complete an airworthy airplane. Perhaps the truth will never be known.
Second Colombian Turbine DC-3 Incident This Week – April 14, 2022 (Updated May 4, 2022)
National Police of Colombia Basler BT67 PNC-0257 was involved in a landing incident at Villavicencio’s Vanguardia Airport. While the aircraft appears to be a write off, the good news is that there was no post-crash fire and none of the 14 crew and passengers onboard were killed, although it is reported that some suffered injuries. There's a video of the post-touchdown phase of the landing, which was posted on YouTube along with an analysis of what probably went wrong. It appears that the pilot yanked the aircraft off the ground in an attempted a go-around, which resulted in a classic Vmc roll.
Here’s an initial report of the incident posted on Facebook. "About 1:05pm an emergency was presented at the Villavicencio’s Vanguardia Airport with a DC3 Basler BT-67 from the National Police when it landed at the said airfield. Florence procession with 10 people on board went off the runway and ended in the vicinity of the airport, fortunately only minor injuries were taken care of in the center of the city. The anti-narcotics management indicated in a video that technical failures in the plane were due to the aircraft and that team and personnel are already in charge of the investigations to determine the causes. As a medium we found ourselves taking shots at the airport at the exact moment and here we shared them." It's interesting to note that "technical failures in the plane" is being blamed for the incident.
For more information about the incident, as it develops, check out report posted on the Aviation Safety Network website.
South American Turbine DC-3 Involved in Landing Incident – April 11, 2022
ALIANSA DC-3C-65TP HK-5016 suffered substantial damage after being involved in a landing incident at San Felipe Airport, Guainía, Colombia on April 8, 2022. Fortunately there were no injuries but the underside of the forward fuselage suffered major damage as did the propeller blades. The right main gear collapsed when the aircraft departed the runway. The event was captured on this YouTube video. For more information about the incident check out this Aviation Safety Network report. All photos credited to the original photographer.
DC-3 Under Restoration at North Carolina Museum – April 10, 2022
Nigel Hitchman recently visited the North Carolina Transport Museum and posted this short report and photos on Facebook. "DC-3 N56V at the North Carolina Transport Museum in Spencer, North Carolina on 30 March 2022. It’s being slowly restored at the museum inside an old massive railway locomotive repair facility. It’s mostly a train museum with some impressive displays, plus a few other transport items including the DC-3 and two light aircraft, plus a Wright Flyer replica." Savannah Bess replied to Nigel’s post saying that "She’s going into her own building, alongside the Wright Flyer."
Buffalo Airways Red Deer Update – March 21, 2022
Mike Golberg visited Red Deer Regional Airport on March 19, 2022 and photographed a number of Buffalo Airways aircraft from the fence line. Since John Olafson’s September 2, 2021 visit to the airport, former Conair CV580’s C-GKFO #53 and C-FKFM #54 have arrived joining C-GYXC #42 and C-FKFB #47. While Buffalo doesn’t fly Convairs, valuable engines and other components have been harvested for the company’s Electras and smart money have the Convairs eventually being scrapped. Like John, Mike was not able gain airside access and his photos are over and through the fence. The photos provide a sense of what’s happening with Buffalo at the airport and are much appreciated. Many thanks to Mike for sharing his report and photos.
Electra's C-GLBA, C-FBAQ #417, C-GXFC
Electra C-FIJX #416
CV580 C-FKFM #54, Electra C-GLBA
Electra C-FIJX #416, CV580 C-FKFM #54
Electra C-FIJX #416, CV580 C-FKFM #54
CV580's C-FKFB #47, C-GKFO #53
DC-3's C-FDTD, CF-CUE
DC-3's C-FDTD, CF-CUE
CL-215 C-FTUV #290
CL-215 C-GNCS #291
CL-215's C-FTUV #290, C-GNCS #291, C-FTXA #284, C-FYWP #292
Fourrier Foundation Update – February 16, 2022
As previously reported on November 17, 2019 and January 15, 2022, the Fourrier Foundation is in the process of restoring a Super DC-3/R4D-8 N9796N "Hula Girl" and DC-3/C-47A XA-KTB "Tango Bravo" for use in planned South American and African humanitarian aid efforts. I recently spoke to the foundation's Project Director Camille Fourrier, who provided an update on the status of the two restorations.
R4D-8 N9796N c/n 43375 was donated to the foundation by Kamaka Air in 2019 after an engine failure forced the retirement of the aircraft. Rather than see the aircraft scrapped, the good folks at Kamaka Air decided to donate the aircraft to the foundation. The fuselage/center section is currently stored at Honolulu International Airport where the airplane was partially disassembled in October 2019. The outer wings; horizontal and vertical stabilizes; one R1820 engine; QEC's; and other components and spare parts were previously shipped to San Antonio where they are currently in storage awaiting the fuselage and center section, which were too large to ship. A team had been scheduled to return to Hawaii in February 2020 to complete the de-mating but the COVID pandemic put an end to those plans. Mr. John Roper, a supporter, will head a team that will travel to Hawaii in March 2022 to complete the disassembly and prepare the fuselage and center section for shipment to Texas.
Camille said that the aircraft is in decent condition, and they briefly considered making it airworthy and flying it to San Antonio. This proved unpractical when they discovered that all of the flight controls were corroded and needed replacement; the outer auxiliary tanks had been removed; they only had one good engine and replacement R1820’s are very scarce due to the high demand for these engines by the warbird community; and doing the restoration at Honolulu would be difficult and expensive since their tools, equipment, and technicians were in San Antonio.
Once the airplane arrives in the United States, Flabob Airport manager Beth LaRock has generously agreed to store the fuselage and wing center section at the airport until permits to transport the aircraft to San Antonio are finalized. The port wanted $380 per day to store the items so this represents a significant savings to the foundation.
One might ask why the foundation would go to all the trouble of disassembling and transporting a Super DC-3 from Hawaii to Texas. A German company has signed on to support the foundation with the development of a piece of special equipment for humanitarian aid. The Super DC-3 is 40 inches longer than a standard DC-3 and can accommodate the special equipment, which will be transported to remote locations parts of South American and Africa.
DC-3 XA-KTB c/n 2118 was recently moved from Laredo Airport to Aero Sky Aircraft Maintenance an MRO in San Antonio, where it is currently being cleaned and inspected while awaiting the arrival of the remainder of 'Hula Girl' from Hawaii. XA-KTB was based at Laredo and operated by Aero JBR for many years and had been stored at the airport in deteriorating condition prior to the foundation acquiring it in 2018. Parts of the aircraft’s fuselage and section of the right wing had been cut off and the flight logbooks were missing. In addition, there were some questions regarding the actual ownership of the aircraft and the foundation had to resort to legal action to acquire a bill of sale from the airport. Camille has determined that the aircraft had 73,891 airframe hours, which makes it a mid-time DC-3! Depending on a number of factors, including the arrival of the Super DC-3’s fuselage and the acquisition of a replacement right wing for the DC-3, it hasn’t been decided, which airplane will be restored first. At this time, the plan is for volunteers to work on the aircraft and to have Aero Sky work on it as "filler work" between the company’s normal airliner jobs.
I’ve done a bit of research on the aircraft, which was delivered to TWA as DC-3-209B NC14931 in April 1939 with R1820 engines. It retained that registration with many operators until 1989 when it was registered XA-KTB. A 1984 photo of the aircraft shows it had a hamburger door, pax door and R1820 engines. A 2016 photo of this aircraft show the aircraft without a hamburger door, a cargo door and with R1830 engines. As late as the mid-1980s, DC-3’s with pax doors were fitted with cargo doors but Camille told me that he can find no evidence of a hamburger door on the aircraft. The foundation team leader says that there is U.S. military ID plates in the cockpit area, but I can find no mention that it was ever impressed by the military during WW II. It’s a mystery that hopefully will be sorted out during the restoration. The foundation will soon launch a website and Facebook page with detailed information on the aircraft as well as updates on the status of the restorations.
The third DC-3 type aircraft owned by the foundation is C-117D BuNo 50812, which they have named "Miss Berlin." This aircraft is currently stored at the Aircraft Restoration and Marketing (ARM) storage yard in Tucson, Arizona. Camille told me that they haven’t completed a comprehensive inspection of the aircraft to determine whether to make it a flyer or to use it for spares.
The Fourrier Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and the plan is to operate the aircraft on a Part 125 certificate in South American and/or Africa 100% on humanitarian missions. Glass cockpits very similar to those installed on Basler BT-67s turboprop conversions will be included as part of the restorations. This will give the operation the ability to fly in and out of selected locations in marginal weather conditions. They are also looking for a C-172 and/or C-421 to operate into remote locations transporting goods and passengers, including medical supplies and for evacuations.
The foundation is headquartered is currently Dallas, Texas, but the restoration is to take place in San Antonio. It is looking for volunteers to help with the restorations and donations in form of parts, equipment, or funding for the effort. Since the foundation is a non-profit, contributions are tax deductible.
It’s exciting to see the updating progress and development of the restoration project soon.
Former Mosquito Sprayer – Then & Now – February 11, 2022
Paul van den Berg reports on the amazing transformation of former Monroe County Mosquito Control DC-3 N213GB. "Then and Now... former Mosquito Control N213GB during a night photoshoot at the Madurodam expo in The Hague, Netherlands earlier this week. I spotted her at swampy Shell Creek, FL in 2018, and didn't have high hopes for her future then. They did a great job in restoring her as 'PH-APM' into a 'Flying Dutchman' on-board multi media-experience. Engines and props are all replicas. Well done, worth a visit and another survivor!"
Fourrier Foundation DC-3 – January 15, 2022
The Fourrier Foundation announced on January 6, 2022 that DC-3/C-47A XA-KTB had arrived at the Aero Sky hangar at San Antonio International Airport and will be restored to an airworthy condition for use on future humanitarian aid efforts. "Hello to Everyone, We at The Fourrier Foundation are pleased to announce the arrival of our newest aircraft. This legendary DC-3, that was converted to a C-47A. It's been a long time coming but she is finally here at her new home. With this we are one step closer with our goal. To have these aircraft in our humanitarian aid efforts in the upcome future. We will be providing updates and progress, of the restoration and the sister ships in the up coming weeks. Also, We want to say thank you to the MRO Aero Sky at KSAT to provide us the facility, to hangar our aircraft and to perform the restoration.
Please stay tuned for more."
This aircraft was delivered to TWA in April 1939 as N14931 and later flew for North Central Airlines. It passed through a number small U.S. based operators before being acquired by Mexican operator Aero JBR in 1989 and re-registered XA-KTB. It had been stored in Laredo, Texas for a number of years and it’s great to hear that it will be back flying again. The Fourrier Foundation also owns Super DC-3/R4D-8 N9796N Hula Girl, which was disassembled in Honolulu, Hawaii in November 2019 with plans to ship it to San Antonio for restoration. I believe it is still in Hawaii. For more information about Hula Girl, check out the November 17, 2019 news piece on this page.
Lauridsen Aircraft Collection Advertised For Sale – December 21, 2021
Hans Lauridsen recently advertised five aircraft from his collection in Trade-A-Plane. They include PBY/Canso IISR N413PB ($325K); HU-16C N216HU ($175K); Beech D18 N6365T ($175K); DC-3 N243DC ($125K); and C-119G N15501 ($125K). Not included in the Trade-A-Plane listing were B-25J N3438G; C-1A N71456; and B-26C N126HP. The C-119 was featured in the 2004 remake of the classic 1965 motion picture Flight of the Phoenix. The following note was included in the advertisement…"Would like to sell the collection to one buyer but will also sell individually….The End of an Era…Thank you"
C-53 Restoration Project Achieves Major Milestone – December 14, 2021
Congratulations to Jason Capra and the dedicated group of volunteers at Vintage Wings for the successful taxi testing of C-53 'Beach City Baby' at Venango Regional Airport in Franklin, Pennsylvania this past Sunday. This was the first time the aircraft had moved under its own power since arriving at the airport in October 2018 and marks the completion of a major milestone in the restoration of this vintage aircraft. Vintage Wings purchased the aircraft and two spare engines in February 2017. It had been tied down at Beach City Airport in Ohio since 1992 and was in pretty rough shape when the group bought it. She looked absolutely gorgeous in Sunday’s bright sunlight and it’s hard to believe it’s the same aircraft that the group purchased five years ago.
It’s only a matter of time before the first flight happens and the old girl has been scheduled for a number of air shows in 2022, including AirVenture in July. Again, my congratulations to Jason and the crew for a job well done! Jenifer Murray captured Sunday’s event in some very nice photos, which she generously allowed me to share. The event was also captured on a video posted on the group's Facebook page.
Super DC-3 Incident in Anchorage – December 10, 2021
TransNorthern Super DC-3 (R4D-8) N28TN made an emergency landing at Merrill Field (MRI) on Wednesday morning December 8, 2021. The aircraft had taken off from Anchorage International Airport’s (ANC) runway 7L on a cargo flight to Kodiak and lost its #2 engine shortly after takeoff. Loaded with cargo and fuel for the flight to Kodiak, the aircraft was unable to maintain altitude and the pilots declared an emergency. They initially requested a return to ANC but, realizing that they probably weren’t wouldn't be able to make it back to ANC, they requested runway 7 at Merrill Field. Disaster was narrowly averted as the aircraft clipped the top of some trees near the approach end of airport and the right wing nearly hit a parked GA aircraft before landing with its gear retracted. In all probability, this was done intentionally as they wouldn’t have made it to the field if they had decided to extend the gear due to the extra drag that would have created. There are a number of videos posted on the internet and it appears that the pilots did a masterful job getting the airplane on the ground safely without injury to themselves or anyone on the ground. One can only imagine the number of casualties if the aircraft had come down in the middle of Anchorage.
In this day and age, everyone has a video camera in their cellphone and the incident was captured by many bystanders. I’ve included links to two YouTube videos. The first video is a compilation of videos and includes the radio transmissions between the pilots and ATC. The second video shows a crew extending the landing gear and towing the aircraft from the runway. While the aircraft will need new engines and props and sheet metal repair to the wings where they hit the trees, it appears that structural damage to the aircraft is minimal. Additional information regarding the incident can be found in the Aviation Safety Network and Kathryn’s Reports.
The loss of N28TN means that TransNorthern currently has no airworthy Super DC-3’s in its fleet. N30TN was damaged in a landing incident at Goodnews, Alaska after the apparent collapse of its right landing gear and N29TN was recently donated to a local museum. N27TN has been stored at Wasilla Airport since arriving from Arizona quite a few years ago.
End of the Line for Alaskan DC-3 – October 30, 2021
DC-3 N777YA had a long history of flying the Alaskan bush going back to 1946 with well-known operators including Wien Alaskan, Woods Air Cargo and Bush Air Cargo. While it had been involved in a number of incidents over the years, it was always repaired and put back into service. That ended on November 22, 2015 when the infamous landing strip at Nixon Fork Mine claimed another victim. The DC-3 struck a snow berm just short of the runway threshold causing considerable damage. It was reported that the aircraft was further damaged when heavy equipment was used to move it off the runway. Luckily neither pilot was injured in the incident.
Owner Bart Tiernan originally hoped to repair the aircraft but this proved unpractical due to the remote location of the airstrip and the extent of the damage. The State of Alaska requires that damaged aircraft be removed from the outback and recently the aircraft was cut up into smaller pieces so that it could be removed by helicopter. Recent photos of the aircraft surfaced when FW Transburg posted some on Facebook. I’ve also included a photo of the aircraft in better times and one taken shortly after the incident.
TransNorthern Aviation Donates Super DC-3 – September 18, 2021
Eric Ellis reports on TransNorthern Aviation’s R4D-8 (C-117D) Super DC-3 N29TN... "TransNorthern has donated this Super DC-3 to a restoration group and it will be painted in its former Air Force livery. It’s currently going to be stored in the FedEx hangar." Since the U.S. Air Force didn’t operate C-117D’s, I’m assuming that it will be painted in either U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps colors.
TransNorthern acquired N29TN in 2007 and it was in service with the airline carrying passengers until retired in 2014. For more information about plans for the aircraft, check out the October 24, 2020 report on this website.
DC-3 Advertised for Sale in Russia – September 5, 2021
On August 4, 2015 two DC-3s (C-47s), manned by an international crew of Russian and North American aviators and mechanics, completed an epic journey retracing the WWII Alaska-Siberian (ALSIB) Route from Great Falls, Montana to Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Between September 1942 and May 1945, almost 8,000 aircraft were delivered from the United States to Russia under the Lend Lease program using this route via Alaska and Siberia. N4550J and N12BA were then flown to Moscow, where they participated in the 2015 MAKS Airshow.
The plan was for both aircraft to be displayed in Russian museums but that never happened and recently N4550J was advertised for sale by a company called Aviation Solutions for $150,000. (Note N12BA in the background of the first photo.) For additional information regarding recent history on these aircraft, check out my March 27, 2020 report on this website.
Hurricane Ida Damages DC-3 – September 4, 2021 - Updated September 10, 2021
Hurricane Ida came ashore in southern Louisiana on August 29th with 150 mph winds causing extensive damage to the region. Houma, Louisiana based Airborne Support Inc. (ASI) was right in the path of the monster storm and the company did not escape the wrath of Ida. N64767 was in the company hangar and suffered severe damage as did the hangar. Fortunately DC-3 N64766 and BT-67 N932H were not damaged. There is no word on DC-4 N67024, which ASI operated at one time. I don't believe that it has flown for a number of years and was probably parked on the field when the storm struck.
UPDATE: Brad Barker of ASI provided an update on DC-4 N67024. "Our C-54, N67024 (expired) was on the ramp in Houma. She pulled a 48,000 LB crawler tug backward nearly 100 feet before the tow bar snapped. She then settled in the grass between ramp and taxiway spaces."
Red Deer Regional Airport Update – September 2, 2021
John Olafson recently visited Red Deer Regional Airport in Alberta, Canada and forwarded a report and photos. On July 29th I reported that Air Spray was building a new RADS II tank system and the obvious question at the time was what Electra would be pulled out of the boneyard for restoration. John reports that former Honduran Air Force C-GNPB had been moved to the active ramp and perhaps this long-stored airframe might be Air Spray’s next tanker conversion…or perhaps not. Only time will tell.
Former Conair CV580 C-FKFB #47 is a recent arrival at Red Deer and joins CV580 C-GYXC #42, which arrived some time ago. Buffalo obviously acquired them for their Allison engines since it doesn’t operate CV580’s. With that said, here’s John’s report.
I was at Red Deer on August 25th, and sadly, and unfortunately I could not access either Air Spray or Buffalo facilities. Air Spray’s director of safety was unavailable and nobody was there who was authorized to let me in. Same at Buffalo, although a sympathetic chap let me inside the gate but no further. Very disappointing. Maybe this is yet another airport where access inside is going to be near impossible. I hope not.
It looks like many of Buffalo’s stored aircraft have been moved away from the back field and are seen close to their hangars, behind locked gates and fences. Maybe that back storage area is earmarked for something else.
At any rate, I did get a few snaps, some through the blasted fence. Interesting thing is that Electra C-GNPB is on the Air Spray ramp and they are obviously doing something with it. Two engines are on it, and they are connected to the power cart. I wonder if this is the next one for the fleet. Maybe so. Sorry for the poor quality photo, it was the best I could do through the fence.
And I saw two of the former Conair CV580’s parked there, engineless. C-FKFB had just recently arrived and they still had not removed the engines. Buffalos two airtanker Electras were back off contract up north, and its likely they are finished for this year. I was also able to photograph Buffalo CL-215’s C-FTUV #290 and C-GNCS #291. C-FTUV had just returned from contract and C-GNCS was a standby aircraft.
Many thanks to John for sharing his report and photos.
Visit to Basler Turbo Conversions – September 2, 2021
I visited Basler Turbo Conversions at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Friday August 27th and toured the company’s two hangars where 80-year old DC-3s are converted to zero-time turboprop powered BT-67s. My first visit to Basler was in August 2020 and I wrote an article about the visit, which is posted on this website. The article gives a full account of the company’s history and the DC-3 airframes in the storage area awaiting conversion. Since it was raining during my visit and no additional airframes have arrived since my last visit, this visit was confined to the two hangars.
The Basler workforce consists of about 75 employees with about 45 being hands-on. The conversion process is vertically integrated with many operations being performed in-house, including wiring harness assembly and the manufacture of carbon fiber engine nacelles. While four 200 gallon outer wing tanks are an option, most customers are opting for them. This doubles the aircraft's fuel capacity to 1,600 gallons and increases the aircraft’s endurance to 12-13 hours making it ideal for geo surveying and ISR applications. Company president Joe Varkoly told me he would like to hire another eight journeyman technicians but can’t find them in the current job market. If you have the skills and are looking for a job in the industry, Basler seems to be a cool place to work!
The day of my visit there were five aircraft in the two hangars undergoing conversion or maintenance and two parked outside on the ramp adjacent to hangar in the conversion queue. In addition, the company demonstrator was parked on the ramp along with a DC-3 hulk and two future conversion candidates.
N844TH - #67 – recently returned to Basler for installation of an ISR radome and other equipment.
C-GGSU - #57 - Geo survey aircraft undergoing a heavy check.
N941AT - #69 – conversion about 30% complete but has yet to be stretched.
N115U - #7 - Basler recently acquired this aircraft, which was converted 28 years ago for the US Forest Service and is offering it for dry lease. They have used it for pilot training and it has already been on a few short term leases. It will be going out on a 5 month lease in September.
N1350A - #68 – airframe conversion complete. Awaiting delivery of final avionics/radio equipment prior to being flown to paint shop in Canada.
Parked on ramp outside hangar
#70 - CF-YQG/N856RB – conversion started but recently moved out of hangar to make room for customer aircraft.
#71 - C-FDTB – conversion has not started.
I’d like to thank Joe Varkoly for showing me around the facility and providing an overview of current and upcoming conversions along with other in-house projects.
Reunion With Two Old Friends – September 1, 2021
Rand Peck reports from New Hampshire on his August 31st reunion with two old friends...a DC-3 and its owner.
Roaming around southern NH today and stopped in to see old friend, Mike Farrey. Mike’s a former Northeast Airlines pilot, retired from Delta, who bought three grounded DC3’s in Canada nearly 30 years ago. Mike and his friends made all three flyable; but he donated one to a friend, sold the other and painted the third in a 1957 Northeast Airlines livery and hit the New England airshow circuit. He even obtained a former NEA DC3 registration number to grace her side.
He then carved out this 1,800 foot strip on his own property where she resides today. Unfortunately she hasn’t flown in eight years and would need much to get her going again. I was fortunate to have considerable tailwheel time and occupied her right seat for many of those NE airshows.
Built for the US Army Air Corps in 1943 as a C47A with serial number 43-15749, she soon found her way into the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Many private operators flew her for the next 50 years in Canada, Alaska and US before Mike found her languishing in Oshawa, Ontario.
Mike was hired at NEA as a DC-6B first officer in 1967, just missing the DC3 era at the airline. He retired as a Delta B767 captain in 1994. NEA flew their last DC3 flight on 16 December 1966 from LaGuardia, thru Nantucket to Boston. At one time the airline operated 25 different DC3’s before they entered the jet age with FH227’s, DC-9’s and 727’s painted in their bright yellow and white, yellowbird livery.
Dutch enthusiast Paul van der Berg also visited the airfield in July 2019 and sent me a report and photos.
Alaskan Super DC-3 Damaged in Landing Incident – August 5, 2021
TransNorthern Aviation Douglas C-117D Super DC-3, N30TN was damaged yesterday at Goodnews, Alaska after the apparent collapse of its right landing gear. The aircraft was operating a passenger flight from Anchorage to Goodnews with 17 persons onboard when it departed the runway during the landing rollout. Thankfully no one onboard was injured and hopefully damage to the aircraft isn’t too serious. A witness said that “the landing looked normal and then all of the sudden it just veered off."
Basler Turbo Conversions Update – August 1, 2021
Robert Rice visited Basler Turbo Conversions during AirVenture and posted some photos of the three aircraft currently undergoing conversion. They are conversions #68 N1350A, #69 N941AT 'Vera Lynn' and #70 CF-YQG/N856RB with N1350A nearing completion. I visited Basler in August 2020 and wrote an article, which is posted on this website and was also published in the August 2021 issue of Air Classics. I will be visiting Basler again at the end of August and will provide a full update report. Many thanks to Robert for allowing me to post his photos.
DC-3 Damaged by Storm – July 31, 2021 - Updated August 13, 2021
DC-3 N28AA was damaged by high winds during a violent thunderstorm on July 14, 2021 at the Shannon Air Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The rudder was ripped off the DC-3 and, while any damage is a bad thing, it appears that the rest of the aircraft escaped unscathed. As reported on July 24, 2020, the DC-3 was advertised for sale in July 2020 and acquired by the museum sometime after that. The airplane was flown to the museum at Shannon Airport from Georgia on January 6, 2021 and placed on display adjacent the museum building. The museum plans on keeping the airplane airworthy and hopefully the damage will be repaired quickly. For more information about the aircraft, Shannon Airport and the museum, check out the January 8, 2021 Free Lance Star article.
C-47 'Wreck Diorama' – July 2, 2021
Mark Gould reports on a visit to the Wings Museum at Buckland’s Farm, Balcombe in Sussex, England.
Very interesting collection– but may be a little disappointing for the purest "spotter" as most of the exhibits are in "wreck dioramas" and composition of one or more airframes. There are also many archaeological "finds" comprising nothing more than a few nuts and bolts, engine parts etc (including one proudly exhibited screwdriver) of aircraft including P-51s, Lancaster’s, Halifax’s and Axis aircraft. Saying that, to others like myself, I found this very interesting and although nice to see, they did not trouble the log book
Star exhibit to me (and the reason for the visit) was "K-1" C-47B c/n 16056/26501 (FA Belge) "LillyBell II" but even this was minus wings, had a cockpit from F-GEFU (cn19074) Ex 6W-SAF. K-1 was also allocated N99346 – this just gives you a flavor of the dilemma of what you (if you are a spotter) should possibly count or not.
Follow-up News Subsequent to Mark’s visit
In the April 2021 issue of Air Britain News – "K-1" former FA Belge fuselage displayed at the Wings Museum near Balcombe, Sussex. Painted as "2100766/D", which has no relationship to the airframe. An update from M. Degg adds to the original story in that the rear fuselage, marked "FL586", was noted by me in May 2017, outside a business called "Scootopia", on an industrial estate in Weston-Super-Mare, in use as their toilet for their customers. The business was destroyed in a fire sometime in 2019 and, subsequently, the rear fuselage had gone. "I" (M Degg) could not find out if it was destroyed or moved elsewhere.
In the June 2021 issue of Air Britain News – "K-1" former FA Belge fuselage - Additionally, it is understood that the rear section of the C-47 has been moved to the owner's home close to Weston-Super-Mare, where he has a very large collection of military vehicles. Information thanks to M Degg.
While not Propliners, readers might find Mark’s reports on other museum exhibits interesting so I decided to include them.
43-11137 Bell P-63C King Cobra [cn33-4] - Wreck recovered from Kuril Islands in 2003 – parts combined to create "44-4315" diorama
44-4315 Bell P-63C King Cobra "Little Toots" Wreck recovered from Kuril Islands, Russia in 2003. Used in a crash scene diorama
WD377 DHC-1 Chipmunk Mk22PAX [RAF] c/nC1/0267 which was Written off 29/07/1966
41-19393 Douglas A-20C Havoc [United States Army Air Forces] (c/n7795) - Shot down over Lake Memekyavr, Russia 02Apr1944. Recovered in 2003. Used in a crash scene diorama with 43-21664
43-21664 Douglas A-20G Havoc [United States Army Air Forces] Recovered from Russia in 2003. Parts used in crash scene with 41-19393
N99218 aka 64-17657 Douglas A-26K Invader c/n18796 - Nose section used to assist in the restoration of "43-21664"
P1273 Handley Page Hampden I [RAF] - Shot down at Petsamo, Russia in 1942. Recovered in 2001. Rear fuselage and other parts - used in a crash scene. (contributor - very marginal if you take this or not)
BD731 Hawker Hurricane I c/n 41H/193276) [Soviet AF] - Shot down in the Karelia region of Russia in 1942. Recovered in 1997. Wreck used in a crash scene
G-AIUA aka T9768 Miles M.14A c/n2035 [RAF] Fuselage only
339 Nakajima B6N2 Tenzan c/n 339 [Imperial Japanese Navy] - Front fuselage and centre section along with parts of several other aircraft used to create another diorama
N9089Z NA B-25J Mitchell (c/n108-34136) – dismantled and in several locations (like under a tarpaulin and next to and on top of some containers)
43-36140 NA B-25J Mitchell (c/n108-35430) [USAAF]- Wreck recovered from Kuril Islands, Russia in 2003. Nose section only (which is probably what I could see in the workshop, thru a small gap behind the C-47)
There are several other noses including a Canberra [WK127] and a Beaufighter? Not seen (unfortunately) and reported locked away from "your correspondence's eyes, despite a request" was 64-18268 HS Kestrel (that is an early version of the Harrier) which again is a composite airframe. There are certainly other aircraft hidden away from prying eyes.
'Beach City Baby' Nose Art Completed – June 28, 2021
C-53 'Beach City Baby' received her nose art at the hands of Chad Matthew Hill/Django Studios. Chad began working on Thursday June 24th and was completed four days later on the Sunday the 27th. Jason Capra reported on Facebook “What an amazing day today at the hangar. Today, Chad Matthew Hill of Django Studios wrapped up painting our C-53's nose art on the airplane as well as all the original WWII crew members names by their appropriate stations. We then tugged the airplane outside and proceeded with our photo shoot with Em Derz as Beach City Baby. What a great way to end the day celebrating the christening of our C-53 officially as 'Beach City Baby.' "
DC-3 Fuselage Noted at Las Vegas AREA15 Attraction – June 13, 2021
Kevin Sanchez recently photographed the fuselage of DC-3 N37906 in Las Vegas at a new attraction called AREA15. The aircraft served with the USAAF during WWII and went to DNL/SAS in 1948 before going to Canada in 1953 where it flew for Maritime Central Airways as CF-HGL until 1978. It was registered N37906 in April 1978 and written off after being damaged by Hurricane Frederic at Hattiesburg, MS in September 1979. Stored in Hattiesburg in derelict condition until at least February 2011, the fuselage found its way to Florala, AL where it was noted in April 2015 and later at the WWII Military Vehicle Federation Museum in Lockhart, AL where it was noted in July 2017. It will be interesting to see how an Area 51 attraction plans on using a DC-3. Many thanks to Kevin for his report and photos.
Restoration of 'Beach City Baby' Nearing Completion – June 6, 2021 - Updated June 13, 2021
Work continues on the restoration of 'Beach City Baby' with the project moving into its final phase. From the beginning, Jason Capra has done a great job keeping the rest of us informed about progress on the project with frequent updates to the Vintage Wings Facebook page. His recent updates included some great photos and updates on in-process and completed work.
Tailcone and horizontal stabilizer filets were installed.
Both fuselage roundels were painted.
Air Transport logos completed.
Wing walkways were painted with an anti-slip coating.
Old wiring was replaced and obsolete wiring and circuit breakers were removed.
New circuit breaker panel was fabricated.
Avionics wiring continued.
The heat shield was installed on the right engine.
Main wing fillets were cleaned and painted.
Installation of the avionics wiring harness
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing 'Beach City Baby' at Sun 'n Fun 2022! UPDATE: INCLUDED PHOTO OF FINISHED ATC EMBLEM ON REAR FUSELAGE
Location of Former Brooks Fuel Aircraft Confirmed – June 5, 2021
As reported on March 27, 2020, 1st Strike Asset Management was contracted by the State of Alaska to clean up the Brooks Fuel yard at Fairbanks International Airport prior to the state undertaking an environmental cleanup. An on-line auction was held in mid-April 2020, which included tools, equipment, vehicles and a number of aircraft. A few aircraft were moved off the compound prior to the auction, including DC-7C N90251, DC-4 N438NA and DC-3 N95460. The DC-3 was noted being towed along a local highway on October 29, 2019 and it was later reported that it was headed to nearby Chena Marina Airport. Reports had the DC-7C and DC-4 being moved to the Everts north hangar area. None of these reports were confirmed and I had hoped to verify the locations during a May 2021 trip to Alaska that unfortunately never happened.
When I heard that Bo-Goran Lundqvist would be visiting Alaska in May 2021, I asked him if he would corroborate the reports regarding the aircraft locations. I’m happy to report that he was able to do so. He visited Chena Marina Airport and confirmed that DC-3 N95460 was indeed parked at the airport. While he wasn’t able to visit the Everts north hangar, he managed a window seat photo during takeoff on his Fairbanks to Anchorage flight! While the photo confirmed the presence DC-7C N90251 and DC-4 N438NA on the ramp outside the hangar, it revealed that DC-4 N67018 was also parked there. This was a complete surprise to me in that I thought that it had been sold at the April 2020 auction along with DC-4s N51802, N90201 and N99212. Many thanks to Bo-Goran for his report.
Airport Gate Guard Restoration – June 4, 2021
A group of volunteers calling themselves Asociación Amigos Aviación Histórica are currently undertaking the restoration of a DC-3/C-47 gate guard at the Palma-Son Bonet Airport in Mallorca, Spain that they have named “Geronimo.” The aircraft is an early production C-47 that was delivered to the USAAF as 41-18417 in June 1942. After the war it flew in South America for SAETA and Avianca as HK-2001 before being acquired by Air France as F-OART in February 1956. It flew for a number of small operators in the US from 1977 to 1988 when it was acquired by Aeromarket Express in June 1988 as EC-177 and later EC-EJB. Aeromarket Express ceased operations in 1993 and the aircraft was abandoned at Palma-Son Bonet Airport.
There are many photos posted on internet photo sites showing the aircraft slowly deteriorating while parked in the weeds of the airport. In December 2007 the aircraft was rescued, cleaned up and placed on wheel stands at the airport’s gate as a gate guard. During the ensuing 12 years the aircraft appeared to have received minimum care but luckily was not the target of graffiti vandals so it remained in relatively good condition. On November 27, 2019 Asociación Amigos Aviación Histórica signed an agreement with the airport authority allowing them to begin the restoration of the DC-3/C-47 along with an AN-2 that also served as a gate guard.
Work on the DC-3/C-47 has progressed almost continuously during the past eighteen months, with the group growing from its six original members to over 40 members. They repaired corrosion; cleaned both the interior and exterior of the aircraft; cleaned the R1830 engine; painted both the interior and exterior of the aircraft; repaired or replaced damaged components; repaired the cargo door; and reconstructed the rudder. While much has been done, much still needs to be done and the group needs an R1830 engine and prop along with a tail wheel tire (9x6) and tube to replace the damaged one that was on the airplane. For more information about the project, check out organization’s Facebook page.
Kudos to the organization for their hard work and dedication in the preservation of these two aircraft.
DC-3 Pickup Truck – June 1, 2021 - Updated June 8, 2021
I recently received an interesting photo of a DC-3 pickup truck that Dave Hackett took at Sun ‘n Fun in April. It was a fully functioning motor vehicle with Florida license plates, which has to make it unique. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Dave photographed a data plate that was mounted in the cockpit, which said the aircraft had been reconditioned by Northwest Industries, Ltd. of Edmonton, AB for the RCAF in February 1980. This was all very interesting until I noticed that the data plate stated the aircraft was c/n 15742 RCAF serial KN269. I took this at face value until I did a quick check of Air Britain’s 2006 and 2011 DC-3 reference books, which pretty much confirmed that the data plate was in error.
c/n 15742 corresponds to RCAF serial KN258
c/n 15757 corresponds to RCAF serial KN269
Now the question is whether the cockpit belongs to 15742/KN258 or 15757/KN269. It turns out that both aircraft survived well into the 21st century with 15742/KN258 last operated by Saber Cargo as N12907 in WWII olive drab colors. It was involved in a landing incident on November 20, 2000 at Charlotte Intl Airport and, to the best of my knowledge, is still stored intact in Charlotte. There is a photo of it there in September 2009 and Google Maps shows it at the airport in WWII colors.
15757/KN269 was last operated by San Juan, PR based Four Star Air Cargo as N133FS. The airline ceased operations in 2009 and the fleet was abandoned in San Juan. Most of the DC-3s were scrapped and Carlos Aleman’s 2015 photo shows N133FS less its cockpit. Due to the fact that the Four Star DC-3s were painted overall white with blue titles, it’s a very good bet that the DC-3 cockpit used on the pickup truck is 15757/KN269/N133FS. Many thanks to Dave for sharing his report and photos.
UPDATE – MICHAEL PROPHET PHOTOGRAPHED THE COCKPIT OF N133FS AT TREASURE COAST INTL AIRPORT IN FORT PIERCE, FLORIDA IN 2016. THIS VERIFIES THAT THE COCKPIT DID INDEED ARRIVE IN FLORIDA FROM PUERTO RICO AFTER THE AIRCRAFT WAS SCRAPPED IN SAN JUAN. WITH THAT SAID, I BELIEVE THIS ALSO CONFIRMS THE IDENTITY OF THE DC-3 PICKUP TRUCK AS N133FS.
'Beach City Baby' Gets Painted – May 26, 2021
The restoration of C-53 'Beach City Baby' is nearing completion of a multi-year restoration and was painted in WWII era olive-drab colors this past weekend. The aircraft was acquired by Vintage Wings in February 2017 and ferried from Beach City, Ohio to Franklin Venango Regional Airport in western Pennsylvania in October 2018. Since arriving the group, led by Jason Capra, has been working tirelessly at transforming this once near-derelict aircraft to an authentic example of a C-53 troop transport. The aircraft was moved outside the hangar on Friday May 21st for cleaning and final prep for painting, which began on Saturday.
Jason reports…."Today is the last day that the C-53’s fuselage will be bare metal. Tomorrow we will begin masking and priming the fuselage before shooting paint. This was an all-day process today, and I’ve still got a little bit to go. I had Ernest Vattimo with me for a bit this morning before he had to run hone to address an issue with his house. But we removed all fillets and the tail cone, then used MEK to remove any unwanted grease, grime or marks, then scrubbed the entire fuselage with water and detergent, then dried it. Then I Alodined the entire fuselage section by section not letting it dry before it was rinsed off. Once the entire fuselage was dried, I then went back and cleaned the windows. I’m cleaning up the hangar and about to head home before I come back tomorrow to continue this long process. It’s gonna be well worth it when it’s done."
"As of 1:30am Saturday morning...It took from 8am to 3pm to finish the masking, and 3:30pm to 1:30am for just the primer. Paint will commence later today."
"Olive drab complete and masking removed. Time for the gray"
"The grey is on and it’s done. Time to let her dry. That’ll do it for a long, long weekend...Stay tuned as always for more updates. This past weekend’s objectives would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of our dedicated team who stuck with me through it all. I say it all the time how blessed I am to have an organization made up of such great people, with incredible work ethics, bigger hearts, and complete dedication to what we are doing. Thank you to Joe Matz, Troy Warinner, Don Millar, Mark Lindley,Ernest Vattimo, Mark Capra, Wayne Aaron, Jerry E. Sass, Jim Aaron, Jim Vertolli (who drove all the way from New Jersey and spent the weekend) Christopher Seich, Paul Seich, and Bruce Balough for being there this weekend to help get our “Baby” in her new dress. I’m lucky and damned to have you all. LOL."
I've included a "before" photo to show how far the project has come during the past 3 1/2 years. For more information about the project, check out my October 25, 2020, October 4, 2020 and October 28, 2019 reports and the Vintage Wings Inc. website.
Golden Era Aviation Launches Operations – May 18, 2021
On February 6, 2021 I wrote about Norse Flight’s 2020 plans to begin offering “Flight Seeing” trips out of Anchorage International Airport with DC-3 N763A. For obvious reasons the venture didn’t take off in 2020 and it now appears that Norse Flight has morphed into Golden Era Aviation, which will shortly begin offering vintage flight tours and charters out of Palmer Airport with DC-3s N763A and N400MF.
Golden Era Aviation held their launch event at the 2021 Great Alaska Aviation Gathering in Palmer, Alaska on May 8th and 9th. Company owners TJ Oldenkamp and Nico Von Pronay gave tours of DC-3 N763A at the event. The aircraft is outfitted in a vintage airliner interior and painted in Ozark Airlines colors. The company first offering will be a 30-minute flight down the Knik River Valley towards Lake George and then over the Chugach Mountains with a return to Palmer down the Matanuska Valley. For more information, check out the company’s website at https://www.goldeneraaviation.com/.
Palmer DC-3 Test Flight – May 2, 2021
Former Missionary Flight International (MFI) DC-3 N400MF flew for the first time in almost five years on April 23, 2021. The aircraft was acquired by Kingdom Air Corps and flown to Alaska in 2015. Based at Palmer Airport, it has spent most of its time parked at the airport since arriving in Alaska. Back in June 2020, it received some TLC and reportedly it has been sold.
Spanish DC-3 On Display – May 1, 2021
Peter Brill reports on a restored DC-3 on display at the Museo Nacional de Aeropuertos y Transporte Aéreo de Málaga in Málaga, Spain. "The DC3 was restored by a Spanish group of enthusiasts from a complete wreck to static display condition. EC-ABC is in reality ex-Spanish Air Force C-47B Skytrain T3.50, c/n 34361. After her military service, she flew cargo for some years with Compania Aerotransportes de España as EC-CPO until withdrawn from service and abandoned in Zaragoza on August 19, 1978, the date of her last flight. After 25 years in limbo, she was restored by said enthusiasts and moved to Malaga in 2003. The registration EC-ABC actually belonged to an Iberia DC3, which was lost on April 29, 1959 while on a flight from Barcelona to Madrid." Here's a link to an interesting YouTube video about the museum. Many thanks to Peter for his report.
KF Aerospace Acquires DC-3 – April 22, 2021
KF Aerospace recently acquired DC-3 N173RD, which arrived at company headquarters in Kelowna, BC on April 21, 2021. The DC-3 is special to the company in that it was flown around the world in 1986 by KF founder Barry Lapointe on a publicity tour to promote the that year's Vancouver Expo. The DC-3 will be place on display at company headquarters in Kelowna. For more information check out the KF Aerospace April 15th press release.
Air Colombia DC-3s Advertised For Sale – February 12, 2021
Alex Amirhamzeh recently informed me that Air Colombia DC-3s HK-1175 and HK-3292 were being advertised for sale on the Controller.com website.
I reached out to Michael Prophet who gave me the following report on Air Colombia and the current DC-3 situation in Colombia.
Up until the crash of LASER Aereo Colombia DC-3 HK-2494 on Saturday 9th March 2019, there were five companies flying pax and cargo DC-3s from Villavicencio, Colombia. They included Air Colombia, Aliansa, Allas, Arall and Sadelca. Most of them kept one operational DC-3 while the other was being maintained and/or kept as a back-up aircraft.
As a result of the tragic LASER crash, where 14 occupants perished, DC-3 operators was under increased scrutiny by Colombia’s civil aviation authorities and the days of air-worthiness may be numbered.
One of the problems that emerged was the high-risk insurance required for the aircraft could not be obtained. Also, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic created a lot of problems due to government imposed restrictions and lockdowns. As a result, Air Colombia decided to stop its ‘flying operations’ in early 2020. I believe they are still working on the aircraft.
In 2020 only Aliansa – Aerolineas Andinas S.A. was active, flying its Turbine DC-3 and two piston aircraft. I have seen posts on Facebook that ALLAS was performing ground runs and maintenance on its fleet, but I'm unsure if they were flying in 2020.
Thanks Michael for your report and photos.
Alaskan Vintage DC-3 Tours Still on Hold? – February 6, 2021
In 2020, Norseflight announced on their website that they would be offering vintage DC-3 tours and charter flights out of Anchorage International Airport in DC-3 N763A. This aircraft is painted in vintage Ozark Airlines colors and is fitted with, what I believe is, an original pax interior. The startup didn't happen in 2020 for obvious reasons...does anyone know if there are plans to start operations in 2021? Below is an excerpt from their website.
Vintage DC-3 Tours
We will be offering breathtaking flightseeing tours right out of Anchorage International. Within minutes of departure you will experience a first row view of the Alaska Wilderness in a classic DC-3.
In addition to our vintage tours we will be offering the aircraft for charter work. Contact us to find out more.
The DC-3 is one of the most iconic airplanes ever built. She has served faithfully in World War 2 and keeps doing so well into the 21st century. N763A has flown for the Army Air Corp, Continental Airlines, and various private operators. Grace Kelly once flew on this very aircraft.
3705 Arctic Blvd, Anchorage, Alaska 99503, United States
C-47 Bankruptcy Auction Canceled – January 22, 2021
The bankruptcy auction that was scheduled for January 27, 2021 involving Turin Aviation Group aircraft has been canceled. Included in the auction was former Lee County Mosquito Control C-47B N834M, which Ed Franco and a small group of Turin employees rescued from Keystone Airpark in December 2017. The aircraft had been slowly deteriorating since being donated to the now defunct Wings of Dreams Museum in January 2013. It was made airworthy and, on December 2, 2017, was flown to Tampa Executive Airport, which at the time was the company’s home base. It was later flown to Zephyrhills Airport where it underwent restoration and painted in D-Day colors for an anticipated trip to the June 2019 75th D-Day celebration in Europe. The trip to Europe never happened and looming troubles at Turin, including a custody dispute with the museum, were revealed in a March 6, 2019 Tampa Bay Times article. For more information about the rescue and restoration effort, check out the November 2018 article on this website.
Kenyan Propliners in Danger of Being Scrapped – November 11, 2020
Ruud Leeuw recently forwarded an email he received from Marcus Bridle reporting on some long-abandoned Kenyan DC-3s and DC-6s that appear to be in imminent danger of being scrapped.
"I was looking for info on the DC-3 ZK-BBJ that has been sitting abandoned at Moi International airport in Kenya since 1995 and found out that the Kenyan Airport Authority is going to (or already has) auction off 101 abandoned aircraft at airports around Kenya. Since the auction terms include that the aircraft have to be removed within 30 days, I expect most will be scrapped. The list includes the following aircraft that you may be interested in."
DC-3 ZK-BBJ at Moi International Airport (MIA)
DC-3 5Y-BMB at Lokichoggio Airport (LOKI)
DC-6 5Y-BRP at Lokichoggio Airport (LOKI)
DC-6 5Y-SJP at Lokichoggio Airport (LOKI)
"There are also a few Friendships, HS748s and other interesting airliners on the list which was published in the Kenyan Gazette. Go to page 3208 and 3209 for the full list of aircraft."
'Beach City Baby' Painting Underway – October 25, 2020
The painting of C-53 ‘Beach City Baby’ has begun and Jason Capra posted a short report and some photos yesterday morning on Facebook. "Although I have plans today, I couldn’t wait to get up to the hangar this morning for a few hours to remove all the masking and tape from the C-53. Arriving at 6:30am, I got to work and when I was finished, I sat back and drank my coffee while enjoying the beautiful view. I also brought the first sets of seats up to the hangar which are awaiting their seatbelts and armrest. I’m very, very pleased with the paint on this so far. The medium green splotching on our airplane would have been applied in the field by the crew chiefs, so no masking was used as per the Army Tech data from 1942. The slight overspray is 100% authentic. Thank you Air Corps Aviation for all the detailed information and data to make this paint scheme as authentic as possible! "
Congratulations to Jason and the volunteers at Vintage Wings for reaching this milestone achievement. It looks like a first class restoration and I’m looking forward to seeing the airplane at a future AirVenture or Sun ‘n Fun. For more information about the project, check out my October 4, 2020 and October 28, 2019 reports and the Vintage Wings Inc. website.
Alaskan Super 3 Assumes New Role – October 24, 2020
TransNorthern Aviation R4D-8Z N29TN, which has been grounded for a number of years in Anchorage, will be given a facelift and used to train veterans. TransNorthern owner Alan Larson posted the following announcement on Facebook yesterday. "Wondered if anyone has a picture of the Navy Admiral's ship Paint scheme from the 60's. TransNorthern converted this aircraft to a 19 passenger executive Part 135 aircraft in 2007 and operated it in Alaska serving High End Fishing Lodges until 2014. It will be used to training veterans to learn new skills in Aircraft Maintenance in 2021." N29TN is one of four Super DC-3s owned by TransNorthern with N28TN flying freight, N30TN flying passengers and N27TN stored at Wasilla Airport. If you can help Alan with a photo of the aircraft from the 1960's, please email him at email@example.com
New Life for DC-3 Billboard – October 21, 2020
As reported on April 4, 2020, DC-3 N4991E had a long career hauling skydivers and after retirement was converted to a billboard at Lodi Airport. The veteran aircraft was recently acquired by Preferred Air Parts of Kidron, Ohio and disassembled for transport back to Ohio. Preferred holds the license for the AMI DC-3C-65TP turbine conversion and N4991E was most likely purchased to be added the company’s inventory of potential conversion candidates. While many purists would prefer to have the aircraft remain a classic DC-3, this is not a bad ending for this airframe considering the alternative of a slow death as a billboard in Lodi.
'Beach City Baby' Gets Her Wings – October 4, 2020
Vintage Wings Inc. completed a significant milestone yesterday when wings were installed on the organization’s C-53 N34DF Beach City Baby. For the past two years, the aircraft has been undergoing an extensive restoration in a hangar at the Franklin Venango Regional Airport in western Pennsylvania. The goal of the restoration is to return the aircraft to its original C-53-DO military configuration, as delivered to the USAAF in January 1942. After being parked at Beach City, Ohio for 25 years, Vintage Wings purchased the aircraft and two spare engines on February 12th, 2017 for $100,000. Led by Jason Capra, a group of dedicated volunteers got the aircraft airworthy and it flew for the first time in almost 26 years on October 6, 2018, when it was ferried to Pennsylvania.
While a tremendous amount of work has been completed on the restoration, there is still much to do including and Jason issued the following statement today on the group’s Facebook page. 'Yesterday was a huge milestone in getting the airplane back to flying as fully restored Warbird. With the major hurdle of rebuilding the wings behind us, we are now on to the final steps in finishing the C-53. Many are wondering what is left, so I’ll try to give some highlights:'
Engine fine tuning
Replace hydraulic accumulator
Finish avionics installation & wiring
Stain & finish cabin floor
Install military passenger seats & litters
Finish restoration of passenger seats
Install cabin lighting
Finish right wheel well
Finish fluid lines on right wheel well
Pressure test fluid lines
Flight control attachment & cables
Gear swing & flap retraction test
Weight & Balance
Jason also announced in a September 17th Facebook video that the organization will be moving into a new permanent home in a nearby hangar at the airport. The hangar will house the C-53, the group’s vehicle collection and will also include a small gift shop. For more information about the aircraft and the restoration effort, check out my October 28, 2019 report and the group’s Facebook page. Vintage Wings Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit historical organization relying on public and private donations to keep the restoration going. Donations for this very worthwhile project can be made using the Vintage Wings Inc. website.
DC-3 Soldiers on in Peterborough, Ontario – September 8, 2020 - UPDATED October 2, 2020
DC-3 C-GJDM has been a resident of Peterborough Municipal Airport in Ontario, Canada for the past 30+ years and has remained earthbound for most of that time. Over time the engines and control surfaces were removed and the airplane was deregistered in 1993. While the DC-3 appeared to be derelict, it had seen military service with both the USAF and Spanish AF until 1976 and apparently was still fitted with much of its original military equipment. Registered C-GJDM in August 1986, the aircraft was fitted with 980 HP PZL-621 engines and 4-bladed props by Airtech Canada at Peterborough Airport. The aircraft made its first flight with the new engines and props on March 6, 1987 but the company’s efforts to market the conversion was not successful and the aircraft remained parked at the airport.
Owner Tim Pickett and Charlie Walker agreed on a deal and, on January 30, 2019 a team from the Coventry, England based ‘Night Fright’ C-47 restoration project arrived to collect its valuable parts and pieces. Over the next five days they did just that; harvesting parts from the aircraft and packing them in a sea container for shipment back to England. Two engines were part of the deal and were also loaded into the container. Since the aircraft was in such good condition, the crew took great care to not inflict any further damage during the disassembly process. The parts they harvested included a complete metal cargo floor; front and rear bulkheads; two engines; wheels; cowlings; radio operator chair; gages and instruments; cargo door; nose cone; tail cone; pilot tubes; and a host of smaller parts and pieces. The crew documented their five day expedition in a series of short videos posted on Facebook.
January 30, 2019
January 31, 2019
February 1, 2019
February 2, 2019 Part 1
February 2, 2019 Part 2
February 3, 2019
Ken Swartz has photographed the DC-3 over the years and did so in July 2019 after the Coventry crew had completed their work. He visited the airport again on September 26, 2020 and reports that there were no changes in the status of the aircraft. Hopefully it won't be scrapped and perhaps would make a good candidate for a Basler BT-67 turbo conversion. Another interesting resident of the airport is the Beech 99 prototype N212BH, serial number U-1. I’d like to thank Ken Swartz for sharing his photos of C-GJDM and N212BH. Over the years he’s traveled throughout Canada and the United States photographing a wide variety of aircraft and has generously allowed me to share many of them on this website.
Pilot Error Suspected in BT-67 Crash – September 1, 2020
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada released its final report yesterday on the June 21, 2019 forced landing of North Star Air BT-67 C-FKGL shortly after takeoff from Fort Hope Airport, Ontario. The aircraft ended up in Eabamet Lake and luckily neither pilot suffering any injuries. The report states the probable cause: "After lifting the landing gear control handle, with his left hand on or near the throttle quadrant, the pilot not flying may have inadvertently moved the fuel condition levers, cutting the fuel to both engines simultaneously." For complete details of the incident, check out the TSB Report.
DC-3 Fuselage Repurposed as Paintball Attraction – August 30, 2020
Carlos Aleman recently photographed the fuselage of former Four Star DC-3 N135FS at a paintball field in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. It’s a sad ending to this once proud airplane but at least it continues to serve a useful function and hasn't been scrapped. If you look close, the Four Star titles and registration are still visible on the fuselage. I photographed it on the old Four Star ramp at San Juan International Airport in May 2011, while on a brief stopover at the airport. I was part of an Ian Allan tour group that had chartered DC-7B N836D for a round-trip flight from Opa-locka, Florida to St. Maarten and the airport authorities were gracious enough to arrange an impromptu tour of the airport for us. Many thanks to Carlos for sharing his photo.
DC-3 For Sale In California – August 30, 2020
The Controller.com website recently ran an ad for the sale of DC-3A N25646. The asking price is $260,000 and is being sold by TJ Neff Aircraft Sales of Novato, California. Total airframe time is 85,385.5 hours and the aircraft appears to be complete and in good condition. The ad included the following information on the aircraft. "This DC-3 was operated by central Iowa airlines as a passenger aircraft. It was later converted to a freighter aircraft. It has dual cargo doors, cargo floor, parachute jump door, gill liner interior, an interior power cargo winch and heavy landing gear. The aircraft was later fitted with 8 passenger seats. Some spare parts and support equipment are included. Part 125 R.F.S. progressive maintenance program. The many logbooks and progressive maintenance binders are available for inspection at the airplane's location in Santa Rosa, CA. Please see logs at the bottom of the ad."
Basler’s Unique Turbo DC-3 Demonstrator – August 23, 2020
During my August 7th visit to Basler Turbo Conversions in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I noticed N300BF parked on the ramp in an eye-catching paint scheme. It turns out that the aircraft is owned by Basler and is used as a flight demonstrator. While it appeared to be a standard BT-67, this was not the case. N300BF is a one-of-a-kind aircraft that was converted by Van Nuys, California based United States Aircraft Corporation (USAC) in 1982. The company named it the ‘Turbo Express’ and, while not a true BT-67, it was the first aircraft converted to what would become the Basler BT-67. The conversion included a 40 inch fuselage extension, 1,197 hp P&W Canada PT-6A-45R engines, five-bladed Harztell propellers, squared off wingtips, flat-sided cowlings and top mounted engine exhausts. It was the first turboprop DC-3 conversion to obtain FAA certification, which was granted in March 1984. It's interesting to note that the PT-6A-45R engines chosen had about the same horsepower as the piston engines they were replacing so there wasn't much in the way of increased performance other than enhanced engine reliability.
N300BF was originally delivered to the RCAF in December 1944 as C-47/Dakota KK160 (c/n 26744/15299) and had a 20+ year military career before being sold to Priority Air Transport as N502PA in August 1968. The aircraft passed through a number of owners before being acquired by USAC in August 1981 and registered N300TX. It made its first post restoration flight on July 28, 1982 and was delivered to Harold’s Air Service/Friendship Air Alaska in November 1984. Basler acquired the aircraft in October 1987 and it was registered N300BF a few months later.
USAC had been working on N607W, the second conversion for Harold’s Air Service, when it ceased operations. Warren Basler acquired the conversion rights from USAC in about 1984 and finished the conversion at Van Nuys with the installation of more powerful 1,376 hp PT-6A-65R engines. It was completed in May 1990 and registered N8059P.
There was quite a bit of interest in the BT-67 and, with the list of potential customers growing, a new 75,000 sq foot conversion facility was built in Oshkosh which opened in February 1990. While Basler retained many of the features of the original USAC design, improvements were made to the design including more powerful 1,424 hp PT-6A-67R engines, modern avionics, an improved cargo floor and increased fuel capacity. In addition, the cockpit bulkhead was moved forward 60 inches by eliminating the forward baggage area. Some of these have been incorporated into N300BF over the past 30 years.
The BT-67 has been an amazing story that hopefully will continue for years to come.
DC-3 Enroute to American Flight Museum – August 19, 2020 - UPDATED August 28, 2020
As reported on July 10th a team from the American Flight Museum had has been busy preparing DC-3 N211GB for transport from Excelsior Springs, Missouri to museum headquarters at Forbes Field in Topeka, Kansas. The museum posted photos on Facebook today of the aircraft enroute to Topeka. The museum hopes to eventually restore the aircraft back to an airworthy condition. Additional assembly photos added August 28, 2020 courtesy of Restored Aircraft Sales & Service, LLC.
Latest Basler BT-67 Heads to Paint Shop – August 18, 2020
Basler Turbo Conversions announced today that BT-67 #67/N844TH was flown to a paint shop in Bar River, Ontario, Canada. I visited Basler on August 7th when #67 was in the final stages of conversion and had a great tour of the facility and storage area. I’ve posted an article on this website about the visit, including photos of aircraft undergoing conversion and those stored awaiting possible conversion. Many thanks to Basler President Joe Varkoly for hosting my visit and Peggy Johnson for her help in arranging it.
DC-3 Back on Floats – July 31, 2020
After 15+ years, DC-3 N130Q was recently put back on floats at Greenville Municipal Airport in Maine. The aircraft is currently registered to Greenville based HBF Inc. but rumor has it that the floats are being installed for a prospective new owner in Alaska. If so, I’m looking forward to seeing her during my next visit to Alaska. The following photos of the DC-3 being placed on floats are courtesy of 3315 Aviation.
Well Known DC-3 For Sale – July 24, 2020
DC-3 N28AA was recently advertised for sale on the Platinum Fighter Sales website for $350,000. This early production civilian DC-3 was delivered to Braniff Airlines in June 1940 and flew for a number of familiar airlines including Trans Texas, Air New England and Provincetown-Boston Airways before Ron Alexander acquired it in 1991. It has been a regular visitor to AirVenture over the years in Alexander Aeroplane, Polyfiber, Candler Field Express, ALA and Stars & Stripes titles.
In June 1995 I had the pleasure of logging 2.5 hours flight time in this airplane from the left seat. At the time it was owned by Ron Alexander who operated a pilot/airplane supply company called Alexander Aeroplane that was running a promotion called a “Day in a DC-3.” For the tidy sum of $1,295, one could log 2 hours of left seat time in the DC-3, which was based in Griffin, Georgia. I signed up and had great fun flying with a Delta pilot who had begun his airline career flying DC-3’s for Southern Airways at the tender age of 19. My girlfriend (now wife) was along and we were invited to attend the company picnic, which was being held at a nearby residential airpark where Ron lived. The wonderful day was capped off by a ride in Ron’s 1927 Stearman Junior Speedmail. I wrote an article about the experience, which was published in Propliner Magazine Issue #63
DC-3 Headed to American Flight Museum – July 10, 2020
A team from the American Flight Museum was recently in Excelsior Springs, Missouri preparing DC-3 N211GB for transport back to museum headquarters at Forbes Field in Topeka, Kansas. The aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Navy as R4D BuNo 50754 in September 1944 and retired to Litchfield Park, Arizona in January 1958. After serving with the FAA as N70 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as N211GB, it was acquired by the Lee County Mosquito Control District (LCMCD) in November 1980 and converted to a mosquito sprayer. After 30 years of service with LCMCD, the aircraft was sold to Dodson International Parts in December 2010. Dodson sold the DC-3 and former LCMCD N838M to Danny O’Neill who operates The Roasterie, a Kansas City based specialty coffee company. Both aircraft were repainted, with N838M being mounted on the roof of The Roasterie in Kansas City and N211GB set up as a children’s attraction. The children’s attraction did not work out and the aircraft was moved to Excelsior Springs and stored. The museum hopes to eventually restore the aircraft back to an airworthy condition.
The American Flight Museum is a not-for-profit flying air museum that owns AC-47 Gunship “Spooky” (N2805J) and is located in Hangar 612 at the airfield.
Desert Air Alaska Leases DC-3 – July 9, 2020
Desert Air Alaska has recently leased DC-3 N59314 from Bush Air Cargo and will begin operating it in the near future just in time for the busy summer season. N59314 will join DC-3’s N272R and N44587, which are currently operated by Desert Air.
Palmer DC-3 Update – June 12, 2020
Andrew Gudeman reported in a June 2nd Facebook post that he was performing an annual inspection on DC-3 N400MF. This aircraft has done little to no flying since arriving in Alaska in April 2015 and has been parked at Palmer Municipal Airport since shortly after arriving. When I visited Palmer in May 2019, the aircraft was missing its #1 prop but otherwise appeared to be in good condition. In the photo posted by Andrew, he appears to be installing the missing prop. There have been rumors about a possible sale so perhaps this veteran aircraft will be returning to the air soon.
Dutch Museum Adds DC-3 Exhibit – April 30, 2020
Michael Prophet visited the Dutch Madurodam today and posted the following report on Facebook. "This afternoon the Dutch Madurodam (miniature museum) in Den Hague, Holland placed its newest exhibition on its museum grounds. This is the former Mosquito Control R4D/DC-3C N213GB (33232). The wings will be added later. The DC-3 will give future visitors a flight experience on the ground."
While the DC-3 appeared to be in near derelict condition during my January 2017 visit to Shell Creek Airport, Michael reports that the aircraft was in remarkably good condition and she sure looks great in her new KLM colors!
Cape Cod Airfield DC-3s Vandalized – April 14, 2020
Former Provincetown-Boston Airlines DC-3s N61981 and were recently vandalized at Cape Cod Airfield in Marstons Mills, Massachusetts. Owner Chris Siderwicz reports that one of the aircraft suffered a crushed elevator while the other a damaged trim tab. He estimates repair cost to be between $10,000 and $15,000. Both are early versions of the DC-3 with N61981 being a rare Douglas Sleeper Transport (DST). Chris wintered this aircraft at New Smyrna Beach Airport, Florida in 2017 and I had the pleasure of catching a ride. The aircraft still retains much of the passenger interior from its days flying with PBA.
DC-3 Billboard – April 4, 2020
Lodi, California has long been a hotspot for skydiving and a retired jump plane now serves as a billboard for the airport and its restaurant. DC-3 N4991E hauled jumpers at the airport before being retired a number of years ago. Rather than being sold, parked in the weeds or scrapped, the aircraft was positioned on a ramp adjacent to busy Highway 99 and painted with “Eat, Fly, Skydive” titles. Robert Maxey visited the airport on April 2, 2020 and the DC-3 appears to be in good shape. Who knows, maybe one day she’ll fly again.
Buffalo Airways DC-3 Undergoing Repair at Red Deer – April 1, 2020
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GJKM was damaged after making an off-airport landing on May 3, 2019 near Hay River. By mid-July the aircraft had been disassembled and Ronny McBryan was seen towing the fuselage through Manning, Alberta on his way to Red Deer, where it was spotted a few days later. On last Saturday’s “Plane Savers” livestream video, Joe McBryan announced that Ronny was back from the United States and was working on getting JKM back into service. This illustrates how tough the DC-3 is and is very welcome news indeed!
Pacific Combat Veteran Douglas C-47 Skytrain – Restoration Downunder – April 1, 2020
The Warbirds Digest website recently posted an interesting article on C-47A 41-18646, which is nearing the end of a 20-year restoration effort. The article delves into both the military and post-war history of the aircraft along with info about the restoration.
DC-3 Offered For Sale at Auction – March 28, 2020
DC-3 N122CA was offered for sale at auction on March 16, 2020 by Champlain Valley Educational Services. The aircraft had been used as an instructional airframe at the Plattsburg Aeronautical Institute, which was located at Plattsburg Clinton County Airport in New York. The school opened in the fall of 2009 offering an FAA certified A&P program and closed its doors in 2019 due to declining enrollment.
The DC-3 was delivered to the USAAF in November 1941 as C-53 41-20057 and, after being civilianized, went on to serve with Mid-Continent, Braniff, Trans Texas, Modern Air Transport, Provincetown-Boston Airways and Eastern Express before being parked in Plattsburg sometime around 1995. Stored disassembled for a time, a 2015 photo show the aircraft back on her legs. While the auction notice describes the aircraft as “instructional use only” hopefully the aircraft can be made airworthy again. A more realistic outcome has the aircraft probably being used as a source of parts for another "flyer" or project.
ALSIB Commemorative Flight DC-3s Parked in Deteriorating Condition – March 27, 2020 (April 1, 2020 Update)
The two DC-3s that participated in the 2015 Alaska-Siberia (ALSIB) Lend-Lease commemorative flight from the United States to Russia were recently photographed at Aerodrome Oreshkova in Russia looking rather forlorn. After completing the epic flight, N12BA (RA-05738) and N4550J (RA-2944G) appeared at the 2015 MAKS Airshow in Moscow and then were essentially parked and forgotten. Alexander Markin photographed the aircraft at Oreshkova in March 2020, where they were parked devoid of the markings carried on the 2015 flight. They are reported to be for sale and hopefully will find a good home soon as they appear to be slowly deteriorating in the harsh weather conditions. For additional photos of the aircraft, check out my October 27, 2019 report.
Coert Munk sent me a link to a Russian language website, which featured a March 2, 2020 post providing additional insight into the situation. The aircraft have been seized and impounded by the courts and are awaiting sale in what probably is Russia's version of bankruptcy court. Here's a rough translation of the post.
The trouble came from where we did not expect. Last week, representatives of the Department of the Federal Court paid us a visit. Having asked where the DC-3s are and, without wasting time on pleasantries, the staff of the Ministry presented an order to impound two planes - DC-3 S "Alexei Leonov "and DC-3 A "Eugene Loginov ". Seals were placed on the aircraft, which cannot be broken as the aircraft will now be sold at auction to cover their owner's debt.
Of course, we understand that under law an airplane is considered property, but these airplanes need to fly! They need system access for maintenance! They need more attention than a car or a refrigerator! If we can't open and service them, they will turn into real estate very soon! Let's note that we are not against the enforcement of the law! But why stop volunteers from the opportunity to maintain these unique aircraft.
The FSSP in the Kaluga region have already reported to the media that they assisted their Moscow colleagues in the search and seizure of the debtor's property. But now, in the anticipation of the 75th anniversary of the victory, our country may lose two unique airlanes that participated in that victory! It would be a shame to lose another page of our history.
We ask representatives of the media and all the caring people to support this post and to report to the leadership of the bailiffs that they are so rude to their State.
DC-3 "Tabitha May" For Sale – March 5, 2020
DC-3 N33611 "Tabitha May" is currently listed for sale on the Controller.com aircraft sales website. Beautifully restored and painted in period Pan American colors, the aircraft is listed for $995,000, which is about three times what a DC-3/C-47 in decent shape normally sells for. The aircraft participated in the 2019 "Daks Over Normandy" event and is currently based at Manassas Regional Airport in Northern Virginia.
Northern Florida Propliner Tour – February 18, 2020
I hooked up with Irish enthusiasts Michael Kelly and Paul Birney on Febrary 17, 2019 for a quickie northern Florida Propliner tour. I think they must have brought some of their Irish weather with them because it was cloudy and foggy during the better part of the day. The sun didn’t come out until later that afternoon as I was driving home on I75 South.
Our first stop was Reynolds Airpark in Green Cove Springs, where a former U.S. Naval Research Lab NP-3C is stored less engines and other components. The aircraft was slated to go to the now-defunct museum at Keystone Airpark and has been stored at Reynolds for a number of years. Although we gave it a good try, we were not granted permission to get up close to the aircraft so we had to settle for some long lens photos. The airpark is a former U.S. Navy airfield and is adjacent to the St. Johns River near Jacksonville. The U.S. Navy built a large number of 1,500 foot piers into the river and tied up surplus ships there after WWII. A very large Space Shuttle fuel tank that was slated for the same museum was stored on its side in the waterfront area.
We had originally planned to visit MHD-Rockland at Keystone Airpark but they were closed because of the Presidents Day federal holiday. I knew that Ronny McBryan was working on getting DC-4 N55CW ready for a flight back to Red Deer, Alberta so we decided to press on figuring that Ronny wouldn’t be taking the day off. Sometimes you get lucky and we spent about an hour talking to Ronny and photographing the DC-4 and five MHD-Rockland P-3Cs. These are former Australian aircraft that MHD acquired for the P-3 pilot training facility they are setting up at Keystone Airpark. For more information about this interesting project, check out my February 10, 2019 post on this website. Ronny said that he arrived on January 7, 2020 and, while there's still lots to complete, he hoped to have the aircraft ready for the flight in a week or two.
Camp Blanding was the third stop on our agenda. Michael and Paul had heard that there was a DC-3 and some other aircraft there and, since it was only a short distance away, we decided to give it a try. Turns out that Camp Blanding Joint Training Center is an active military training base but luckily the aircraft were part of a museum located just outside the security gate. The DC-3 was actually C-47A BuNo 12436 and was in need of some TLC. It was marked as 100597 with both main tires flat and in need of a paint job. In addition to the C-47A, A-6E BuNo 155661 and A-7E BuNo 157503 were on display with a few helicopters and quite a bit of ground equipment. Both the A-6E and A-7E were also in need of some TLC.
Brazilian DC-3 Unexpectedly Scrapped - February 1, 2020
Enthusiasts around the world were shocked and outraged by the sudden and unexpected scrapping of former Varig DC-3 PP-VBF at Rio de Janeiro’s Galeao International Airport on the afternoon of January 31, 2020. According to reports, there was no attempt to salvage or save parts of the airplane before a backhoe showed up and began ripping the airplane apart. The aircraft was delivered to the USAAF in August 1943 as C-47A 42-24294 and flew for Hughes Aircraft Company as N68358 after the war. Acquired by Varig in December 1947, the aircraft was operated by airline until being retired in the early 1970s. It was restored and displayed in Varig colors at Rio de Janeiro’s airport from March 1980 until yesterday. As can be seen in the photos, other than the engines, one would be hard pressed to identify the remains as a DC-3. It’s a real shame that this aircraft was scrapped as it appeared to be complete and also appeared to be in relatively good condition.
List of Airworthy/Flying DC-3s - January 16, 2020
Coert Munk has compiled a LIST of DC-3 and C-47 type aircraft that are currently airworthy and active. This list comprises 172 aircraft but doesn't include those that are potentially airworthy but haven’t flown in the last 3-8 years. Coert has compared his list with one compiled by Andre van Loon and Michael Prophet and there is basic agreement between the two. The past twenty years have seen a substantial decrease in the number of airworthy DC-3/C-47s but it’s encouraging to note that 172 of these 75+ year old aircraft are still flying, albeit some as turboprop conversions. Coert would appreciate any updates you might have, which can be emailed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks much to Coert for sharing his list.
R1830 Engines Found in the Strangest Place - January 13, 2020
My wife and I were on a Southern Caribbean cruise in December and one of the islands we visited was Aruba. As tourists often do, we took a bus tour of the island and one of the stops was the Casibari Rock Formation. The formation consists of a cluster of huge tonalite rocks that rise about 100 feet above the surrounding desert-like landscape. There is a small bar/café at the location and I was surprised to see what looked like two beat up R1830 engines on display.
I assumed that the engines had probably come off a DC-3 and it would turn out that I was correct as they were from DC-3 PT-KUD c/n 19778. The DC-3 had been abandoned at Queen Beatrix Intl Airport in Oranjestad, Aruba and, after being rescued, served for a number of years as a gate guard on the roundabout in front of the terminal. After slowly deteriorating at the airport, the aircraft was sold and used as an obstacle for a monster truck event in October 2012 at the Mansur Sports Park. Apparently the aircraft was scrapped after the event and the engines and props are the only surviving remnants.
Paul van den Berg provided a couple of photos of the aircraft taken at the airport before it was moved to the roundabout. The first photo was taken in 1983 and second in 1996. The third photo was taken by Daniel Piotrowski in September 2007, when it had assumed the U.S. registration N301AK.
Michael Prophet photographed the aircraft in November 2008...by this time its condition was rapidly going dowhill
For more photos, check out the “The Return of Monster Trucks in Aruba 2012” Facebook page. Also, you can view this sad spectacle on a YouTube video. Many thanks to Coert Munk and Paul van den Berg for their assistance in solving this little mystery.
Bush Air Cargo DC-3 Back in Action - January 6, 2020
It's old news but Bush Air Cargo DC-3 N59314 is back flying again. As reported on August 2, 2019, the aircraft was damaged after encountering a downdraft on short final at Kenai Municipal Airport in Alaska on August 1, 2019. Owner Bart Tiernan recently told me that the minor tail wheel damage suffered during the incident has been repaired and the veteran cargo hauler is back in operation.
"Candy Bomber" Participates in Annual "Candy Drop" – December 24, 2019
The Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation’s (BAHF) C-54 "Spirit of Freedom" made its yearly flight to Dare County Airport in Manteo, N.C., where it participated the 20th annual “Candy Drop” festivities. Hundreds of people turned out for the December 15th event, which featured the C-54 and 99 year old Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, who became known as the "Candy Bomber" during the Berlin Airlift. He got that name after dropping candy to German children from the cockpit of his aircraft while on approach to Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport. The C-54 was open for viewing and the highlight of the event occurred when the aircraft took off and circled the field dropping candy bars.
The next day the “Spirit of Freedom” made the short flight to nearby First Flight Airport and landed on the airport’s 3,000 foot long runway. The C-54 was joined at First Flight by Karl Stoltzfus’ C-47 "Miss Virginia" which had participated this past June in the Daks-Over-Normandy event in England and France. Jim Scheld photographed both aircraft at First Flight on the 16th.
Collings Foundation Sells DC-3/C-47 - December 23, 2019
It was reported on December 9, 2019 that the Collings Foundation sold DC-3/C-47B N514AC/43-49297 to a new owner in France. The aircraft will be based at Caen, Normandy and restored by the D-Day Wings organization. It is currently painted in Vietnam War era AC-47 gunship colors as "Spooky" and will be repainted in WWII era D-Day colors as J7 292415 "Miss Annabelle Lee."
TSB Issues Report on Buffalo Airways DC-3 Forced Landing - December 23, 2019
The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada released Report A19W0052 on December 20, 2019 re the May 3, 2019 forced landing of Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GJKM about 6.5 miles south of the airport in Hay River, NWT. The report was described by the TSB as “limited scope.” Here’s a summary of the board’s findings.
1. The left engine malfunctioned shortly after departure from Hay River and was shut down.
2. The crew was unable to totally complete their checklists, including the landing briefing
3. Due to an apparent miscommunication between the pilot and co-pilot, the co-pilot prematurely extended the landing gear.
4. With the landing gear extended, the crew was unable to maintain airspeed/altitude and a forced landing was made.
5. Both the pilot and co-pilot were qualified to and certified to fly the DC-3.
6. The aircraft was operating within maximum gross weight limits.
7. The TSB did not investigate the cause of the engine failure.
8. Buffalo Airways standard operating procedures were in accordance with the DC-3’s operating manual.
9. The report concludes with the following Safety Message...”In this occurrence, the aircraft’s airspeed and altitude could not be maintained, primarily because of the increased drag when the landing gear was extended early in the approach. This highlights the need to follow SOPs and use standard phraseology, as well as the importance of checklist discipline, during an emergency.”
The aircraft was spotted being transported by road through Manning, Alberta on July 15, 2019 and noted in Buffalo’s hangar in Red Deer, Alberta on September 4, 2019. Hopefully it can be repaired and returned to service.
North Star Air BT-67 (DC-3T) Accident - December 5, 2019
North Star Air BT-67 (DC-3T) C-FKAL crashed while on approach to Sachigo Lake Airport, Ontario on December 3, 2019. The aircraft was on a cargo flight from Red Lake, Ontario with two crewmembers onboard when it impacted trees and crashed while on approach to Sachigo Lake Airport’s 3,500 foot gravel runway. The accident occurred at about 9:10am local (NAV Canada reports 9:35am) and, while the aircraft appears to be substantially damaged, both crewmembers escaped uninjured. There was no post-impact fire and the airline issued the following statement regarding the accident.
North Star Air is reporting that one of the company's Basler BT-67 cargo aircraft was involved in an accident near Sachigo Lake, Ontario. The accident happened at approximately 9:10am local time on December 3, 2019. There were no passengers on board the aircraft and both flight crew members sustained no injuries. North Star Air activated their Emergency Response Plan. The Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada have been notified and will be leading the investigation in determining the cause. North Star Air will be cooperating fully with their investigation.
For more information check out the Aviation Safety Network website.
Danish C-47A "Gamle Dame" Grounded - December 4, 2019 (February 2, 2020 Update)
Danish Dakota Friends announced that C-47A OY-BPB “Gamle Dame” has been grounded and will be put on static display in a museum. The decision was the result on metal being found in the #1 engine, which would have required the engine to be replaced. In addition to the failed engine, during the next couple of years the #2 engine would have needed replacement as would both props along with a repaint. The announcement also cited the shortage of skilled mechanics to work on the aircraft and pilots with DC-3/C-47 flight experience. The aircraft was one of eight C-47s operated by the Danish Air Force and saw service from 1953 to 1982 as K-682. The aircraft is owned by the Foreningen for Flyvende Museumfly (FFFM) with the Danish Dakota Friends having provided financial support to keep it flying.
(February 2, 2020 Update)
Danish Dakota Friends held an Extraordinary General Meeting on January 21, 2020 with 97 members present, where the current situation regarding C-47A OY-BPB was discussed. It’s important to understand that Danish Dakota Friends is an interest/support association with a charter to provide financial support for the operation and maintenance of OY-BPB; provide aircraft rides in the DC-3 to its membership; and to promote interest and knowledge of the DC-3/C-47. On the other hand, FFFM is an association comprised of mechanics and pilots that have sole ownership of the DC-3. They are responsible for maintaining the aircraft in accordance with manufacturer and aviation authority guidelines and requirements. They generate no revenue, as all their expenses are paid by Danish Dakota Friends. For all intents and purposes related to the operation of OY-BPB, the two associations are completely dependent on each other.
The decision to ground the aircraft was made unilaterally by FFFM citing financial issues related to its continued flight and the shortage of qualified mechanics to maintain the aircraft. The Danish Dakota Friends have paid for the operation and maintenance of OY-BPB for over 29 years and contend that there are adequate financial resources to replace the failed engine and to continue flight operations. It was also stated in the meeting that five current FFFM have committed to remain with the program for at least five more years.
Hopefully these two organizations can come to terms and this beautiful aircraft can continue to grace European skies, at least for the foreseeable future.
Hawaiian Super DC-3 Heading to Texas for Restoration – November 17, 2019 (February 5, 2020 Update)
Ed Franco and a small crew have been working for the past few weeks on the disassembly of C-117D N9796N at Honolulu International Airport. The aircraft was retired by Kamaka Air a few years ago and was recently donated to the Fourrier Foundation, which plans on restoring it back to flying condition. The aircraft was retired by the U.S. Navy in May 1974 after 30 years military service and stored at Davis Monthan AFB. It was sold to Dross Metals in September 1982 and flew for a number of small operators before Kamaka Air acquired it in May 2004.
The foundation released a statement on their "Save the Hula Girl" Facebook page on October 11, 2019...
The Fourrier Foundation would like to introduce N9796N c/n 12879. This plane came to us through as one of two planes generously donated by Kamaka Air of Honolulu, Hawaii. Acquired by Kamaka Air in 2004, she served as part of their cargo fleet until a complete failure of the number two engine left her parked in storage at the Honolulu International Airport. The cost of repairing the engine and the general operating cost of this craft compared to more modern planes led to the airline deciding to retire her from their fleet. With that, N9796N found herself in need of finding a new home or being sold off for scrap.
Fortunately, luck was on her side. While N9796N sat in storage, one of our members was hard at work looking for an aircraft to acquire for the Foundation’s use in humanitarian aid flight support. Eventually we were brought into contact with Jim Petrides of Kamaka Air. Upon learning about our mission of giving aircraft not just a new home, but also a new purpose, Mr. Petrides’ own passion for historical aviation preservation brought him to agree to donate N0706N into our care.
On March 28, 2019, Kamaka Air officially signed N9796N over to the foundation and we begun the process of bringing her home. Our crew is now hard at work coordinating the logistics and preparing the aircraft to be disassembled and shipped to our home base in San Antonio, Texas.
The Hula Girl is an absolutely indispensable part of DC-3 and aviation history. We must work to preserve her, and while maintaining that history, also give her an opportunity to work again, as that’s where DC-3s are happiest - especially in the service of others during humanitarian aid missions. Your help is desperately needed to make the goal of bringing N9796N home and getting her back into the sky. This is a huge undertaking – before she can be put to work serving others, she must first be dissembled, transported to her new home, reassembled and restored, and finally upgraded so that her systems, structures, and avionics can meet today’s airworthiest requirements. Fortunately, we have found a transport company willing and able to help us bring N9796N to her new home in Texas. However, as you might expect, shipping a large, antique airplane across an ocean and over land is no small undertaking. Between shipping containers, insurance coverage, and many, many hours of labor to disassemble and pack her for transport, we are in urgent need of financial support to make this dream happen. We have been given an October, 2019 deadline to get her out of the Honolulu Airport, otherwise she may yet be scrapped.
Please visit our GoFundMe page for more information and how you can help. https://www.gofundme.com/f/6bvq288
Or visit our Facebook fundraiser at: https://www.facebook.com/donate/2404012719873281/
UPDATE: ED FRANCO IS HEADING BACK TO HONOLULU IN FEBRUARY 2020 TO PREPARE THE AIRCRAFT FOR SHIPMENT BY OCEANGOING BARGE TO LOS ANGELES. FROM THERE IT WILL MAKE THE FINAL LEG OF THE JOURNEY TO SAN ANTONIO BY ROAD.
DC-3 Takes Road Trip Down Fairbanks Highway - October 30, 2019
Former Brooks Air Fuel DC-3 N95460 was photographed on October 29, 2019 being towed down a Fairbanks highway to parts unknown. The aircraft had been stored for many years at Brooks Air Fuel, where I photographed it in May 2019. While not confirmed, it's been reported that the DC-3 was being towed to nearby Chena Marina Airport.
'Beach City Baby' C-53 Restoration - October 28, 2019
Vintage Wings Inc. volunteers continue the restoration of Douglas C-53-DO Beach City Baby at Franklin Venango Regional Airport in western Pennsylvania. The aircraft was delivered to the USAAF as 41-20095 (c/n 4865) in January 1942 and, after a short military career, it went to Danish Airlines (DDL) as Gorm Viking OY-DCE in September 1945. Returning to the U.S. as N9959F in October 1952, it led an interesting life including service with the Ohio governor’s office as Buckeye One. Registered N34DF in 1955 the aircraft was donated to the National Museum of the USAF in 1977, where it was on display until 1992. Sold to Kenneth Joseph in 1990, the aircraft was made airworthy in 1992 and ferried to Beach City, Ohio where it was parked and essentially forgotten. Vintage Wings Inc. purchased the aircraft and two spare engines on February 12th, 2017 for $100,000 and named the aircraft Beach City Baby. For a detailed history of the aircraft check out the Vintage Wings Inc. website.
Led by Jason Capra, a group of dedicated Vintage Wings volunteers got the aircraft airworthy and Beach City Baby took to the skies again for the first time in almost 26 years on Saturday October 6, 2018, when it was flown from Beach City, Ohio to Franklin, Pennsylvania under a ferry permit issued by the FAA. 400+ spectators witnessed the departure and 200 welcomed the old girl to her new home at Franklin Venango Regional Airport. Much work remained to get aircraft fully certified to carry passengers and much progress has been made since its arrival a year ago. The “to-do” list included:
Remove outer wing panels for wing inspection
Build cradles to hold wings during wing inspection
Repair spar cap and stringer corrosion found when wing panels were removed
Remove fuel tanks
Install AD mandated doublers on main spars
Repair and replace damaged and corroded sheet metal, fluid lines and other various components
Rebuild air stair doors
Remove and replace all aircraft hardware
Install new interior
Remove old paint down to bare metal
Treat exposed surfaces with Alumi-prep and Alodine conversion coating
Repaint in 1942 Operation Torch colors
Work is well underway and Jason has targeted 2021 to complete the restoration and for Beach City Baby to attend her first airshow. The group received technical and financial assistance from a number of companies. PPG Aerospace donated paint remover, surface prep material and paint for the project. With help from Preferred Airparts and local businesses, equipment required to remove and inspect the wing panels was fabricated. Basler Turbo Conversions holds the Parts Manufacturing Authority (PMA) to produce DC-3 structural components and they were able to supply components needed for structural repairs. The goal is for the aircraft to become a flying mobile living history museum and tell Beach City Baby’s history as only she can. The cabin will be fitted with learning modules highlighting key periods of the aircraft’s distinguished history.
Vintage Wings Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit historical organization relying on public and private donations to keep the restoration going. Donations for this very worthwhile project can be made using the Vintage Wings Inc. website.
DC-3s For Sale in Russia - October 27, 2019
Frank Moss and DC-3 N12BA were frequent visitors to Florida airports before the aircraft was sold to new Russian owners in 2015. Frank had used to the DC-3 to both haul cargo and to provide flight training. In July/August 2015 DC-3 N4550J joined N12BA, with both being flown from the Florida to Moscow along the WWII era Alaska-Siberia (ALSIB) Lend-Lease route. The ALSIB route began in Great Falls, Montana and traversed NW Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska and then across Siberia to Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Many thousands of American-made military aircraft were delivered to Russia during the war using this route.
After arriving in Moscow, the two aircraft attended the 2015 MAKS airshow. In addition to being on display, both aircraft participated in the daily airshows. At the time, the plan was to put them on display at Russian museums. After a brief period of activity, both were parked at Oreshkovo Airfield and by August 2019 were looking a bit tatty. While both were scheduled to participate in the Daks Over Normandy event in June 2019, neither aircraft attended. The event’s website shows N12BA re-registered RA-05738 and N4550J RA-2944G. In August 2019 the British organization Lytham St. Annes Spitfire Ground Display Team was unsuccessful in its attempt to raise funds to purchase N12BA. While I haven't confirmed it, apparently N4550J is also for sale.
Basler BT-67 (DC-3T) Damaged in Runway Overrun Incident - October 27, 2019
Fuerza Aérea Salvadoreña (Salvadorian Air Force) BT-67 FAS116 suffered substantial damage on October 22, 2019 when it overran a runway while taking off from San Salvador’s Ilopango International Airport. There were seven persons onboard and thankfully none were seriously injured…the airplane doesn’t appear as lucky! The aircraft was assigned to the Grupo de Transporte, which is based at the airport. The Salvadorian Air Force once operated four of the type and FAS116 was the last in service. For additional information, check out the Aviation Safety Network website.
Basler BT-67 (DC-3T) Delivered to AIRtec - October 27, 2019
Mike Wilson reports that BT-67 N144WC arrived at St. Mary’s County Airport (2W6) in Southern Maryland during the late evening hours of October 15, 2019. It will go into service with AIRtec and replaces BT-67 N141PR, which went to a Canadian operator in July 2019. The aircraft’s wingtip was damaged the next day when a C-172 misjudged the distance between the two aircraft while taxing to the airport’s fuel pump. The damage was minor and Mike reports that the aircraft was flown back to Basler for repairs. Current FAA records indicate that the aircraft is owned by Basler Turbo Conversions so most likely AIRtec has leased, rather than bought the aircraft.
Atlantic Air Cargo DC-3 Ditches into Atlantic Ocean - October 26, 2019
Atlantic Air Cargo DC-3 N437GB ditched into the Atlantic Ocean at 4:45pm on October 18, 2019 while attempting to land at Nassau's Linden Pindling International Airport after the left engine failed. The pilot, Julio Castrillo and another crew member were not injured and were rescued by the Royal Bahamian Defence Force. The DC-3, along with Atlantic’s second DC-3 N705GB have operated for many years out of Opa-locka Executive Airport flying cargo to the Bahamas and other destinations around the Caribbean. The aircraft sank and in all likelihood won't be recovered due to the high salvage cost. For a summary of the accident, check out the Aviation Safety Network website.
Alaskan DC-3 Heading South for the Winter - October 26, 2019
Co-owner Nico Von Pronay recently reported on Facebook that DC-3 N763A will be flying south for the winter. The DC-3, which had been parked in Marathon, Florida for many years, was acquired by Nico and a partner in 2016 and flown to Anchorage, Alaska in 2017. It had done very little flying since arriving and was parked on the Desert Air ramp during my May 2019 visit to Anchorage. With help from Desert Air owner Joey Benetka, the DC-3 was recently made airworthy and successfully completed a test flight on October 12, 2019. It departed about a week later and was in Missoula, Montana on October 26th. Nico also stated that they plan to return the DC-3 to Alaska and offer flightseeing trips and flight instruction.
Two Former Buffalo DC-3s Arrive in Oshkosh by Road - October 25, 2019 (October 31, 2019 Update)
As reported on April 14, 2019, Buffalo Airways has sold an additional four non-flying DC-3s to Basler Turbo Conversions. CF-YQG/N856RB arrived at Basler in late August still wearing faded Nunsani Central titles. CF-JWP/N856YB arrived in late September still wearing Gateway Aviation titles. Both had been stored for quite a few years at Buffalo’s maintenance base in Red Deer, Alberta. I haven’t seen any recent reports on the other two aircraft, C-FDTB/N856KB and C-FFAY/N856QB. Does anyone have the current status on these two aircraft? UPDATE: RUUD LEEUW TRAVELED TO RED DEER IN OCTOBER 2019 AND PHOTOGRAPHED BOTH C-FDTB AND C-FFAY AT THE AIRPORT.
Current Airworthy DC-3/C-47 Type Aircraft – September 25, 2019
I often get asked how many DC-3/C-47 type aircraft are currently airworthy and my stock answer has always been “about 100.” Michael Prophet and Andre van Loon maintain a list of airworthy DC-3/C-47 aircraft, which they keep current with weekly inputs/comments and updates. I contacted Michael and he provided the following answer. “Our latest count: 112 Daks, 53 Turbo-Daks and 2 Super-Daks for a total 168 airworthy and flying.” Michael and Andre are serious about maintaining an accurate list and I believe you can take this info to the bank.
Air Colombia DC-3 Operations – September 24, 2019
Vanguardia Airport in Villavicencio, Colombia is home to the world’s largest concentration of working DC-3s and a place that I would love to visit, but probably never will. Air Colombia is one of the airlines operating out of the airport with a fleet of DC-3s and there’s a great article on the Oldjets.net website about the airline and the airport. It’s a must read for any DC-3 enthusiast.
Finnish DC-3 Forward Fuselage – September 21, 2019
I visited Finnish aviation photographer and collector Antti Hyvärinen on August 16, 2019 at his home near Helsinki. Antti is an avid collector of aviation artifacts and he owns a DC-3D forward fuselage, a C-121C cockpit (54-160) along with a large collection of instrument panels and other aviation artifacts. Twenty-eight DC-3Ds were built by Douglas Aircraft after WWII using parts from uncompleted C-117s. Antti's forward fuselage is from DC-3D c/n 42970, which was delivered to Air France in March 1946 as F-BAXA. It flew for a couple of Lebanese airlines before being sold to the Finnish airline Kar-Air, which operated it from 1954 to 1965 as OH-VKC. It was sold to a Swedish Airline in January 1965 and returned to Kar-Air in June 1967 and stored. Removed from the Finnish registry in August 1971 it was sold to a local Finnish collector for use as a café. The café never happened and it was sold to a Swedish amusement park in 1986 that eventually went bankrupt. The aircraft was stored in deteriorating condition until it was bought by Per Spang in 1998 and transported to Denmark where it was damaged in a strong storm. Antti acquired the forward fuselage in October 2008 it's currently undergoing restoration in his garage.
Colombian DC-3 Damaged in Landing Incident– September 18, 2019
Aliansa DC-3 HK-2820 was damaged in a runway overrun incident at La Chorrera, Colombia on August 15, 2019. The nineteen passengers and three crewmembers were unhurt but the right wing appeared to be damaged. The incident occurred at low speed so it's my guess is that the aircraft will be repaired and returned service. For more information and an interesting video of the incident, check out the Aviation Saftey Network website.
Basler Acquires Corvallis DC-3 - September 17, 2019
The February 2019 issue of EAA Sport Magazine had a nice article about the resurrection of DC-3 N84KB and its interesting ferry flight from Aurora, Oregon to Oshkosh. The airplane had been sitting at a farm in Corvallis, Oregon for 14 years before being sold to Basler. I’ve attached a photo of the aircraft taken in 1982 by my late friend Mickey Bednar (aka AirNikon). Mickey was into airliner photography in a big way before the digital age and left his huge collection of Kodachrome slides to the Pima Air & Space Museum. We had many an interesting photo trip before his untimely death in 2006. Here’s a link to a tribute that his buddy Aeromoe created shortly after his passing.
DC-3 Damaged in Landing Incident at Kenai, Alaska – August 2, 2019 (August 3, 2019 Update)
DC-3 N59314 was damaged on August 1, 2019 after encountering a downdraft on short final at Kenai Municipal Airport in Alaska. The subsequent hard landing resulted in fuselage and tailwheel damage. The aircraft is owned by Bart Tiernan and no injuries were reported. At this time, the extent of damage is not known. For more information and updates, check out the Aviation Safety Network website. Good news....owner Bart Tiernan reports that the damage was relatively minor and the aircraft should be back in operation in about ten days.
TSB of Canada Initial Report on Buffalo DC-3 Incident – July 31, 2019
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada issued initial report A19W0052 and photos on the May 3, 2019 forced landing of Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GJKM in Hay River, NWT.
On 3 May 2019, a Douglas DC3C-S1C3G aircraft, operated by Buffalo Airways, was conducting a cargo flight from Hay River/Merlyn Carter Airport (CYHY), Northwest Territories, to Yellowknife with two crew on board. During the initial climb, one engine lost complete power. The crew elected to return to CYHY, however, they were unable to maintain altitude. The crew declared a MAYDAY and a forced landing was executed approximately 3.5 nautical miles southeast of CYHY. There were no injuries. The aircraft was substantially damaged, but there was no post-impact fire. The TSB is investigating.
TSB is deploying a team of investigators to the site of a forced landing at the Hay River/Merlyn Carter Airport, Northwest Territories
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators to the site of a forced landing that occurred on 3 May at the Hay River/Merlyn Carter Airport, Northwest Territories. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.
AirVenture DC-3’s and C-47’s – July 29, 2019
I spent 13 hours at AirVenture on Wednesday July 24th photographing a wide variety of aircraft. I walked 12½ miles that day and managed to photograph the 19 DC-3’s and C-47’s that were parked at three locations spread out along the entire two mile north-south length of the airport. Highlight of the visit was meeting and chatting with Mikey McBryan and seeing Plane Savers DC-3 C-FDTD. Mikey told me that he would be announcing Plan Savers Season Two on August 1st but wouldn’t tell me what aircraft he would be saving. The weather was perfect for my one-day visit but I have to admit that my 70-year old feet were very tired by the end of the day!
Buffalo DC-3 Roadtrip – July 16, 2019
The fuselage of Buffalo DC-3 C-GJKM was photographed yesterday while traveling through Manning, Alberta on Route 35. As reported by this website on May 4, 2019, the aircraft experienced an engine failure on May 3, 2019 while enroute from Hay River to Yellowknife and was damaged during the subsequent off-airport emergency landing near Hay River, NWT. It is most certainly being transported to Buffalo’s maintenance base in Red Deer, Alberta, where it will hopefully be repaired and returned to service.
New Hampshire DC-3 Needs Rescuing – July 10, 2019
On a recent trip to the U.S., Dutch aviation enthusiast Paul van der Berg traveled to New Hampshire on July 7th with the express purpose of finding DC-3 N33623. "Today, thanks to Google Earth, I found N33263 hidden on a remote, hard to access private dirt strip near Mason, New Hampshire. Although not flown since 2005, she looks very much “savable” and she should be saved!" Paul also commented that "There was no one there…only a radio playing in the hangar. It was a bit eerie."
This aircraft was delivered to the USAAF in May 1944 and was sold to Allegheny Air Cargo Inc. in 1947 as N20754. Over the years it had many owners before finally being acquired in September 1993 by its current owner, Dakota Aircraft Museum, Inc. The DC-3 is painted in 1960’s era Northeast Airlines colors and was active around the New England area in the 1990’s. I saw it at Maurice Roundy’s house in Auburn, Maine on September 26, 1998 (see photo above) during one of Maurice’s open house events, which featured Starliner engine runs! For lots more information about this aircraft and its history, check out Ruud Leeuw's website for a detailed report on his October 2009 visit to the airfield.
As Paul stated, the airplane doesn’t appear to have deteriorated beyond repair and hopefully will be saved. Many thanks to Paul for sharing his report and photos.
AIRtec BT-67 (DC-3T) Sold to Canadian Operator – July 7, 2019 (November 7, 2019 Update)
During my recent visit to Southern Maryland, I made a point to visit St. Mary’s County Airport (2W6) to photograph AIRtec’s Basler BT-67 N141PR. The aircraft has been based at 2W6 for a number of years and has recently been reported on by Mike Wilson and by Curt Brandt who noted it at Easton Airport on Maryland’s eastern shore. I hangared my Bonanza at the airport in the late 1990’s and was amazed by the changes to the airport during my June 23th visit. There are many new hangars and also many new buildings housing aviation related businesses. As it turned out, my timing was perfect as the aircraft had been sold and departed the next day for Oshawa, Canada and a new owner. Mike Wilson spoke to an AIRtec employee who told him that the aircraft was going to Canadian operator Enterprise Aviation Group. The employee also told Mike that Enterprise intended to use the aircraft for tours to Antarctica and South America. As of today, the aircraft was still on the U.S. registry. AIRtec operates two other turbine DC-3s and plans on taking delivery of a third later this summer. (November 7th Update: Aircraft has been registered C-GOOU to ACLI Aviation Ltd
and was recently noted at Oshawa Exectuive Airport.)
Basler Acquires Another DC-3 – June 14, 2019
Basler Turbo Conversions has been steadily buying up DC-3s in the U.S. and Canada with its latest acquisition being DC-3C N68CW c/n 25980. The aircraft had been parked at St. Louis Downtown Airport for a number of years and Carmelo Tudro posted recent photos of it being disassembled over a three day period for shipment to Basler’s home base in Oshkosh. For more information about this aircraft, check out The Aero Experience website. Thanks much to Carmelo for sharing his photos.
Mikey and the "Plane Savers" Team Do It – “DTD” Flies Again! – June 6, 2019 (Updated June 7, 2019)
Mikey McBryan with the help of family, friends and volunteers accomplished what many skeptics considered impossible when DC-3 C-FDTD flew for the first time in over 30 years on June 6, 2019. Work began on restoring aircraft, which had been parked at the Saint-Hubert Longueuil Airport near Montreal since the early 1990’s, on April 11, 2019. In less than two months, a small group of volunteers transformed a near-derelict shell of an aircraft into one capable of taking to the air. Mikey’s dad Buffalo Joe arrived a few days ago and was at the controls of the airplane during today’s one hour flight, where he thrilled the large crowd with a flyby and touch-and-go landing before ending the flight with a perfect landing. Mikey documented the day's events and the flight in an emotional 43 minute final YouTube episode of Planesavers. Mark Brandon also captured the day's events and posted a very nice 17 minute video on YouTube . Benoit de Mulder generously shared the following photos and reported that the aircraft departed for Thunder Bay the next day on the 7th of June. I'm looking forward to seeing her in July at AirVenture 2019.
Congratulations to Mikey, Uncle Ronnie, Stella and the rest of the loyal volunteers who worked long and hard to make this near impossible transformation happen! For more information about the project, check out my May 8th and February 10th reports along with Kenneth Swartz's comprehensive article that was published today on the skiesmag.com website.
"D-Day Squadron" May 17th Gathering at Oxford-Waterbury Airport – June 3, 2019
Veteran aviation photographer Howard Chaloner was on hand at Oxford-Waterbury Airport in Connecticut on May 17, 2019 where he photographed nine "D-Day Squadron" C-47/DC-3s prior to departure on their trans-Atlantic journey to Europe. The aircraft were part of a contingent of U.S. based DC-3 and C-47 aircraft that are participating in the June "Daks Over Normandy" event. I’m happy to report that all aircraft made it safely to England, where they will stage at Duxford Airfield prior to heading across the English Channel on June 5th for Caen-Carpiquet Airport in France. For detailed schedule information check out the event program . Sure wish I could have been part of this great event but the stars just didn’t align for me.
Many thanks to Howard for sharing his photos. Over the years he has generously allowed me to use many of his classic Constellation photos for my Constellation Survivors website.
"Plane Savers" Project Achieves Major Milestone – May 8, 2019
The “Plane Savers” project to restore a near-derelict C-47 achieved a major milestone yesterday when the engines on C-FDTD were run for the first time. The vintage airplane had been parked at Saint-Hubert Longueuil Airport near Montreal since the early 1990’s and its future was not looking good. When Mikey McBryan first heard about the aircraft and its D-Day history, he decided it needed to be saved and launched the "Plane Savers" project. Mikey enlisted the help of his Uncle Ronnie and, after more than three months of preparation, work began on April 11th. Led by Uncle Ronnie, volunteers have been showing up every day to work on the airplane, which has slowly come back to life. Ecole Nationale d'Aérotechnique (ENA) is a large aviation tech training school located on the field and they have provided invaluable support to the project, including use of their hangar on numerous occasions. Mikey has been posting daily "Plane Savers" videos on YouTube and Episode 126 documents the engine runs. Check out the photos of what the airplane looked like at the start of the project. Benoit de Mulder also posted some photos and videos from yesterday’s event on Facebook. Congratulations to Mikey, Ronnie and all the volunteers for their remarkable achievement. I'm looking forward to the first post-restoration flight on June 6th.
Buffalo DC-3 Forced Landing After Engine Failure – May 4, 2019
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GJKM made an off-airport landing on May 3, 2019 after experiencing an engine failure while enroute from Hay River to Yellowknife. The aircraft departed Hay River on a scheduled flight at about 8am and was 20 minutes into the 55 minute flight when the #2 engine failed. The pilots attempted to return to Hay River but were forced to set the airplane down about 5 miles from the airport. The Aviation Safety Network posted a preliminary report on the incident. I will post additional information as it becomes available.
C-47 "Hit or Miss" Drops Out of Daks Over Normandy Event – May 1, 2019
The Turin Aviation Group announced today that their C-47 "Hit or Miss" would not be participating in the June 2019 Daks Over Normandy event. The following statement was posted on the "Hit or Miss" Facebook page.
It was just over two years ago the dream and work began on returning a WWII vet to the skies of England. "Hit or Miss," #43-48950, served her country carrying men, material and wounded and in honor of those men who flew her and were carried by her, volunteers and crews have worked the last two years to return her to her factory shine and the skies of Europe. The mission continues, but it's with deep disappointment the decision has been made that "Hit or Miss" is not ready to return to the UK safely. The needed last minute funding to see the dream to its conclusion did not materialize. Along with the dozen other DC-3s that have pulled out of the journey to the D Day celebration, "Hit or Miss" sadly adds to their ranks.
We want you to know that your support has meant everything to this project! The hundreds of volunteers hours has made a huge difference in not only "Hit or Miss," but to all of us involved in the project. We are very pleased to let you know that work on "Hit or Miss" continues as we speak with plans for her to take to the skies late summer. We will keep you informed of her progress and thank you again for your continued support!
Hemet-Ryan DC-3 Update – April 28, 2019
John Olafson reported on a recent visit to Hemet-Ryan Airport in California. "I have seen this one (N715F) at Hemet several times over the last couple of years and they are making slow progress with it. Wings back on, looks like engines and props have received some attention and now it needs the wing tips and all the control surfaces. I wish I could find someone there who could tell me about it, but there is never a soul around. Maybe you know what if any, its future holds."
N715F was parked for many years at Skylark Field Airport in Lake Elsinore and was most likely moved to Hemet-Ryan by road on a trailer. The airplane has been grounded since at least 2001 and has an interesting history. It was delivered to Eastern Air Lines as DST NC33643 in June 1941 and spent the better part of WWII drafted by the military as a C-49F. It was returned to Eastern after the war and later sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers as their team aircraft and re-registered it N1R. The DC-3 went on to serve a number of owners, including Trans Florida Airlines before Dick (Skip) Evans acquired it in 1996. Skip hopes to eventually return the airplane to its original DST configuration but sponsorship is required.
"Miss Montana" to Normandy – April 26, 2019
Volunteers at the Museum of Mountain Flying in Missoula, Montana have been busy preparing DC-3 N24320 “Miss Montana” for the June 2019 Daks Over Normandy event in Europe. The gathering will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and 30+ C-47s and DC-3s are expected to attend events in England and France.
N24320 was delivered to the USAAF as 43-15731 in May 1944 and sold to Missoula based Johnson Flying Service in April 1946. Converted to a civilian DC-3, she flew smoke jumpers for many years with Johnson Flying Service before finally being sold in the mid-1970s. Subsequently she flew for Evergreen International, Basler Flying Service and McNeely Air Charter before being stored engineless in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1999. Rescued by the museum, the aircraft was made airworthy and flown to Missoula in 2001, where she has been on static display ever since. The decision to participate in the Daks Over Normandy event was made to honor the 57,000+ Montana citizens who served during World War II in all branches of the military and those citizens of Montana who served on the home front.
Phillips 66® Aviation and Phillips 66® Lubricants are major sponsors of the “Miss Montana to Normandy” mission and will be contributing fuel, engine oil and hydraulic fluid for the flight. The DC-3 will depart Missoula on May 13th for Oxford, Connecticut where the U.S. contingent of about 20 DC-3/C-47’s will be gathering prior beginning the trans-Atlantic journey to England. The plan is to depart Oxford on the 19th and fly together on what’s commonly known as the Blue Spruce Route across the North Atlantic.
The original designation “Miss Montana” was the nose art on the B-25 flown by Capt. Malcolm W. Enman, who served during World War II. Enman was a highly-decorated soldier and received several accolades for his service, including three stars for participation in three major campaigns, the Gilbert, the Marshall and the Caroline Islands. Enman, now deceased, is the father-in-law of Dick and grandfather of Eric, who plan to make the trip to Normandy as pilots.
A send-off gala will be held May 11 at the Museum of Mountain Flying hangar at Missoula International Airport. For more details, and to learn more about "Miss Montana", the D-Day Squadron and Daks over Normandy, check out the missmontanatonormandy.com wbsite. Also check out a short news piece produced by TV station KXLF-TV and Plane Savers Episode #38.
15 Minutes of Fame – April 18, 2019
They say that everyone gets 15 minutes of fame once in their lifetime and I guess my turn came earlier this week when Mikey McBryan read aloud a short article I had written for the April 2019 issue of Air Classics about his Plane Savers project. The shout-out came in Plane Savers Episode #104 from 0:50 to 3:30 so I guess I only got 2 minutes and 40 seconds of fame! Thanks Mikey for my brief time in the limelight.
Basler on Canadian DC-3 Buying Spree – April 14, 2019
Basler Turbo Conversions has been on a buying spree at Buffalo Airways, picking up no less than five DC-3 airframes in the past year. Buffalo has been a reliable source of airframes with the company previously selling former Boreal C-FQBC and former First Nations Transportation CF-FTR to Basler. Both were made airworthy for ferry flights to Oshkosh with C-FQBC being re-registered N960BT and making the flight in November 2015. CF-FTR followed in 2016 and was re-registered N144WC. A second former Boreal Aviation DC-3 C-GCXD was trucked to Oshkosh in September 2018 and re-registered N856LT.
As noted by Joe McBryan in Plane Savers Episode #77, four additional airframes have been sold to Basler but have yet to be delivered and are still at Red Deer. These include CF-YQG, which has been re-registered N856RB; CF-JWP, which has been re-registered N856YB; C-FFAY, which has been re-registered N856QB; and C-FDTB, which has been re-registered N856KB. I have confirmed the U.S. registrations on the FAA Registry. Components from C-FDTB are being used for the resurrection of DC-3 C-FDTD, which Mikey McBryan is resurrecting for a D-Day flight in Montreal. Joe also mentioned that DST CF-VQV had not been sold to Basler.
AIRtec BT-67 (DC-3T) Flat Tire Incident at Easton, MD – April 12, 2019
Curtis Brandt reports on a March 19, 2019 incident at Easton Airport in Maryland involving AIRtec’s BT-67 N141PR. "The aircraft was doing touch and go’s in Delaware when they lifted off and the pilot felt like the co-pilots main tire had a problem. They flew over to Easton and did a fly-by and sure enough the tower confirmed the problem. They requested the fire department stand by and they brought it on one main and set her down beautifully with no injury to crew or damage to the airplane. This happened at 4pm and the runway finally opened up at 1:30am the next morning. AIRtec sent a crew in a company van up to change the tire right away. Easton doesn't have a dolly big enough to slip under a tire of a plane bigger than a Cessna to move it off the runway.” Curtis also reports that AIRtec is considering acquiring up to seven additional BT-67’s. I’ll have to check out AIRtec's home base at St. Mary’s County Airport when I visit Southern Maryland in June. For additional BT-67 photos and photos of the eastern shore of Maryland, check out Curt's website at www.skipjackphotography.com and his Facebook page.
March 9th Colombian DC-3 Crash – April 5, 2019
LASER Aéreo DC-3 HK-2494 crashed on a domestic Colombian passenger flight from San Jose del Guaviare to Villavicencio at 10:34am on March 9, 2019. The aircraft was totally destroyed and 3 crew and 11 passengers died in the crash. The aircraft declared an emergency while enroute and crashed near the village of La Bendicion. For more information about the accident check out the Aviation Safety Report website. The first photo was taken in July 2013 when the aircraft was in service with Sadelca.
Southern Maryland Turbo DC-3s – April 4, 2019
Mike Wilson recently sent me photos of three Basler Turbo DC-3s that are operated by two Southern Maryland based companies. BT-67s N131PR and N141PR are operated by AIRtec, which is based at St. Mary’s County Airport (2W6) just a few miles north of Naval Air Station, Patuxent River. While Air Tec operates a number of aircraft types in support of Pax River, Mike reports that the two BT-67s are not used on U.S. Navy work and support other customers. When they’re home at 2W6, they can often be seen at Easton, Airport (see Curtis Brandt’s February 10, 2019 report) and other nearby airports performing pilot training. I based my Bonanza at 2W6 for a number of years in the early 2000’s and at the time AIRtec operated Piper Navajos in support of the U.S. Navy and other customers. Mike tells me that there have been lots of changes and expansion at the airport since that time.
The third aircraft N115U is operated by American Systems Engineering and occasionally does work for the Navy at Pax River. This particular aircraft was the last DC-3 type operated by the US Forest Service when it was retired in December 2015. Originally acquired by the USFS in June 1964, the DC-3 was converted to turbine power by Basler Turbine Conversions in 1992. During it's 51-year USFS career, it was used to fly smoke jumpers to remote forest fire locations.
Finnish Enthusiast Restoring DC-3 Forward Fuselage – April 3, 2019
Finnish aviation enthusiast Antti Hyvärinen acquired the forward fuselage of DC-3 OH-VKC ( c/n 42970) a few years back and has been slowly restoring it in his Helsinki garage. The aircraft was one of 28 DC-3D aircraft built in 1946 by Douglas using leftover WWII C-117 production parts. Originally delivered to Air France as F-BAXA in March 1946, she went to Air Liban as LR-AAV/OD-AAV five years later. Finnish airline Kar Air bought the aircraft in 1954 and it saw service with the airline until 1965 as OH-VKC. Swedish airline Sverijge Flyg operated the aircraft in 1965 and 1966 and it was repossessed by Kar Air in 1967. The DC-3 was stored and sold for use as a cafe that never happened. In 1986 it went to a Swedish amusement park and in 1996 to Denmark. Antti bought the forward fuselage in 2008 and plans to restore her back to 1950s colors. He is slowly polishing her and she will also need some metal work.
As with all restoration projects, many parts are missing and Antti is looking to acquire the following items. If you have any of them that you are will to part with, please email Antti.
Cockpit roof hatch
Pedestal throttle/mixture/prop-lever plastic knobs, with those little letters on them
Pedestal placards and a parking brake knob
Windshield wipers, just the arms and blades for them (I have the motors)
Hydraulic hand pump (I have the long lever to operate it)
The lower panel around the hydraulic valves
Anti-icing fluid quantity instrument for 11.5 gallons
Overhead panel voltmeters
Feather switch “guards” around the switches, to prevent the accidental operation
One hydraulic pressure indicator, and the two “attachment rings” for them
-front door outside handle
And if you look carefully in the background of the first photo, you will see Antti’s other prized possession…the forward fuselage of C-121C Super Constellation 54-160.
Distressing C-47 News From Florida - March 7, 2019
On March 6, 2019 The Tampa Bay Times published an article describing a number of serious issues at Turin Aviation. Front and center was a custody battle between Turin and the Wings of Dreams Museum over C-47B N834M that Turin has been restoring for the past year. Turin CEO Ed Franco planned (and stills plans) to take it to Europe and participate in the Daks Over Normandy event in June 2019. The article goes on to describe a number of other issues including Turin’s alleged nonpayment of wages to three former employees and financial issues with Zephyrhills and Tampa Executive Airports over nonpayment of rents and other fees. I’ve visited Turin Aviation on a number of occasions and contacted Ed Franco after reading the article. Ed responded that “the article was definitely one sided and certainly not as bad as things were portrayed.” He also said that his lawyers were working the issues, which is normally how these things evolve. I wish Ed and the company well and hope the C-47 will be able to attend the Daks Over Normandy event. For more information about the Turin C-47 restoration project, check out my article on this website.
DC-3 “Billboard” Soldiers on at Fantasy of Flight – February 10, 2019 (March 4, 2019 Update)
Located just a few hundred feet from busy I4 in Polk City, Florida, sits a rather forlorn DC-3 that serves as a billboard for Kermit Weeks Fantasy of Flight. The aircraft has faded Fantasy of Flight titles on the fuselage and at one time was mounted in a severe nose-down attitude with a dummy attached to the tail. Occasionally a motorist passing by on the interstate would think it was a crashed airplane and more than a few 911 calls were made to the local police, who were not amused. The dummy was removed and the aircraft mounted in a more conventional attitude, which undoubtedly made the police happy. I passed by the aircraft in April 2018 and it is definitely in need of some TLC, including paint and a replacement rudder. I’m not sure on the aircraft’s ID. Conventional wisdom has it being N4797H but there are others who seem to think its N600RC or even a composite of multiple airframes. I guess only Kermit knows and, so far, he’s not talking. (March 4, 2019 Update --- Kermit Weeks confirmed today that the aircraft is N600RC.)
TMF Super DC-3 Departs Opa-locka Airport – March 3, 2019
TMF Aircraft surrendered its Part 135 certificate in early 2017 and ceased operations. The company’s two polished Super DC-3s had operated out of Opa-locka Airport for many years flying freight to the Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations. The company hadn't been active for at least a year prior to the shutdown with N587MB parked at Opa-locka and N32TN parked engineless at LaBelle, Florida. Sadly, N32TN was destroyed by Hurricane Irma when it struck LaBelle on September 11, 2017. Sometime in 2018, N587MB was flown from Opa-locka to LaBelle, where Michael Kelly photographed her on February 21, 2019. Let’s hope she fares better at LaBelle than her sister!
Nederland's Transport Museum DC-2 – March 2, 2019 - Reported by Michael S. Prophet
Last year and again last month I visited the Nederland's Transport Museum in Nieuw Vennep Holland in order to see the former DDA Classic Airlines DC-2. It was stored for many years in back of the DDA hangar at Schiphol East Airport and later moved to Hangar 2 at the Aviodrome, where it was mostly kept out of sight. The DC-2-112 (c/n 1288) was delivered to Eastern Airlines as NC13738 in 1934 and later served with the RAAF as A30-14. Check out this link for more information about the aircraft. The museum is currently housed in an old Dutch distillery called Bols
that was at one time also used by Fokker Aircraft as an 'AOG' office and spares facility. There is talk of a brand new museum facility being created in the next few years by the local Gemeente Haarlemmermeer town hall of which Schiphol Airport is part of. I’ve enclosed some photos of the aircraft.
Desert Air Alaska Changes Ownership – March 1, 2019
Joey Benetka recently announced that he had purchased Desert Air Alaska from longtime operator Dennis Gladwin. Desert Air is based at Anchorage International Airport and the airline owns two DC-3s and a T-29B/CV240. While the two DC-3s have been very active during my Alaska visits, I've never seen the Convair in action. When I was in Anchorage four years ago, the Convair was in excellent condition and I was told that it could be made airworthy quickly if demand warranted. The company’s website states “We fly freight to over 200 locations in Alaska. We can get your cargo to where it needs to be. Desert Air Alaska is a charter freight service offering large haul capacity to rural runways and remote sites. Smooth, direct and reliable - we have a host of services like HAZMAT and oversize freight accommodation with no extra handling fees.” For more information about Desert Air, check out the company website. I wish Joey luck and hope to meet him when I visit Alaska in May.
Former Breitling DC-3 Sold to Turkish Museum – February 27, 2019
The former Breitling DC-3 HB-IRJ has been sold to the MSO Air and Space Museum at Sivrihisar Uluslararasi Sportif Havacilik Merkezi in Turkey. The DC-3 was sponsored for a number of years by the Breitling watch company but lost that sponsorship when the new Breitling management team decided to suspend most of its aviation sponsorships. Breitling sponsored the airplane’s 2017 around the world tour and most recently carried ‘Aero Passion’ titles. The DC-3 is expected to be delivered to its new owner in March 2019. The museum has several airworthy vintage aircraft in its collection and plans on flying HB-IRQ to several Turkish airshows in 2019.
Buffalo DC-3 Put Out to Pasture – February 26, 2019
Joe Mooney recently reported on Facebook that Mikey McBryan told him that Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GWIR had been moved to his Uncle Ronnie McBryan’s farm for storage. This aircraft was severely damaged on August 19, 2013 after the #2 engine caught fire shortly after takeoff from Yellowknife Airport with 21 passengers onboard. The engine was shut down and during the ensuing emergency landing the aircraft struck a stand of trees before making a gear-up landing in a field short of runway 10. There was no post-impact fire and none of the passengers or three crew members were injured. When I visited Buffalo a year later the aircraft was stored in the corner of the Yellowknife hangar. Recent video from Mikey McBryan’s Plane Savers YouTube videos showed no sign of the aircraft in the hangar so I thank Joe for solving the mystery of the whereabouts of the C-GWIR.
Basler Turbo DC-3 at Easton Maryland – February 10, 2019
Curt Brandt noted Basler BT-67 N131PR doing pattern work at Easton Airport on the eastern shore of Maryland this summer. The aircraft, which is former N167BT, carried AIRTEC titles and Curt believed it was out of nearby NAS Patuxent River. Pax River is home to the U.S. Navy’s Test Pilot School and the school uses a variety of contract aircraft to provide students experience in these aircraft. In the 1990’s the MATS Connie spent a few weeks at Pax River, where test pilot students were given the opportunity to fly this very different type of aircraft. I’ve heard from folks that were on these flights that MATS Connie Captain Frank Lang took both the aircraft and the student pilots to the limit. I’d appreciate an email if you confirm that N131PR was under contract with the Test Pilot School. (I received confirmation from Mike Wilson that N131PR is not used in support of the Test Pilot School but was most likely at Easton for pilot training - See Mike’s April 4, 2019 report)
Shell Creek DC-3 Finds a Home in Holland – February 10, 2019
Retired by the Monroe County Mosquito Control District in the early 2000’s, DC-3’s N213GB and N220GB were flown to Shell Creek Airport in Punta Gorda a few years later and parked. N220GB was eventually moved to the Moss family hangar at the north end of the field for use as a parts donor.
In the fall of 2018, N213GB was disassembled and shipped by sea to Holland where it will become an exhibit at Madurodam in The Hague. Madurodam is a major tourist attraction featuring miniature 1:25 scale models of many famous Dutch castles, industrial projects and public buildings. The DC-3 will be the only full sized exhibit at the park and will be painted in civilian colors. Not a bad ending for this aircraft that was going downhill rapidly at Shell Creek.
Alaskan DC-3 Donated to Museum – February 10, 2019
DC-3 N305SF has been a fixture at Palmer Airport in Alaska for many years. When I first visited Alaska in 2005 she already had three flat tires and was looking pretty grim. Over the past 13 years, the aircraft has been shuffled around the airport and has continued to deteriorate. One thing I have learned over the years is that you can never declare a DC-3 dead. I’ve seen some miraculous resurrections and it was reported on Facebook in August 2018 that the aircraft had been acquired by the Alaska Military History Museum. The post also claims that the aircraft had a combat history flying missions during the invasion of Sicily in WWII. I did a quick search and couldn’t find the Alaska Military History Museum but did find a website for the Alaska Military Heritage Museum. I’d appreciate if anyone could shed some light on the museum and their plans for this long neglected airplane. Please email me if you have any information on the status of this aircraft.
Chanute Air Museum C-47 Gets the Last Laugh – February 10, 2019
VC-47D 43-49336 had been on display at the Chanute Air Museum for many years and was declared excess when the museum shut its doors in December 2015. While smaller and more historically significant aircraft quickly found homes at other museums, the more mundane and/or larger aircraft were not so lucky and the decision was made to scrap them in place at the former museum. The salvage crew had been assured that all fuel tanks had been emptied but on April 23, 2018 they learned a very valuable lesson…always check aircraft fuel tanks before putting a torch to them. A good portion of the VC-47D was destroyed with the salvage crew estimating that the fire destroyed about $2,000 worth of aluminum. In the end, the old Gooney Bird had the last laugh! As of January 2019, I believe only the C-133A remains to be scrapped. For more information, check out Michael O’Leary’s article in the March 2019 issue of Warbirds International.
New Gate Guard at Flabob Airport – February 10, 2019
N131FS was one of two Four Star DC-3s that escaped the mass scrappings of the defunct airline’s fleet in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The DC-3 was recently painted in USAF colors for her new assignment as the gate guard at Flabob Airport in southern California. While it would have been great if she had remained airworthy, it’s still very good news that the scrapman didn’t claim her and she will be part of the Flabob scene for years to come.
The other former Four Star DC-3 to escape San Juan was N138FS, which is now active with Florida Air Cargo flying freight out of Opa-locka Airport in south Florida.
Buffalo Airways to Restore near-Derelict DC-3 – February 10, 2019
Bernoit de Mulder acquired D-Day veteran DC-3 C-FDTD in April 2017 with the intent of restoring it. The vintage airplane had been parked at Saint-Hubert Longueuil Airport near Montreal since the early 1990’s and was in danger of being scrapped. Despite his efforts and the efforts of many volunteers, Bernoit was unable to garner the resources necessary to resurrect the DC-3 and two weeks before Christmas 2018 he placed an ad on eBay. Three days later he received a call from Mikey and Joe McBryan of Buffalo Airways fame saying they were interested in the aircraft. A short time later a purchase deal was finalized.
Recognizing the historical significance of the aircraft, the McBryan’s are determined to have it flying by June 6, 2019, which is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Considering the condition of the aircraft and its location, this is a very ambitious undertaking but who, with decades of DC-3 experience, would be better suited to pull it off than the McBryan family.
Not wasting any time, Mikey headed to Buffalo’s maintenance base in Red Deer, Alberta on December 31st to meet with his uncle Ronnie McBryan and have a look at the two parts donor aircraft, C-FDTB and C-FDTH. Like C-FDTD, both are former Transport Canada aircraft with C-FDTB’s engine firewall and wiring harness configuration identical to the Saint-Hubert DC-3. It’s interesting to note that C-FDTB has a full 1940/50s era 3-across passenger interior from its days with Trans-Canada Air Lines. It has been sold to Basler for their turboprop conversion program and all of this history will be stripped out during the conversion. C-FDTH was damaged during a windstorm and, at this point, is best suited to being a parts donor.
Mikey and Ronnie airlined to Montreal and got their first look at C-FDTD on January 3rd. Their plan is to take inventory on exactly what is required for the restoration, gather the parts and pieces in Red Deer and then transport them to Saint-Hubert, where the restoration will take place. This would be an extremely ambitious project under the best of circumstances and I wish them luck.
You can check out the latest project status on Mikey McBryan’s Plane Savers YouTube videos and the Plane Savers website.
----Created 10 February 2019------Updated 4 August 2022----