DC-2 - DC-3 - C-47 - Turbo DC-3 News
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
The 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.
Hawaiian Super DC-3 Heading to Texas for Restoration – November 17, 2019
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, who plan on restoring it back to flying condition. The foundation released the following statement on their Save the Hula Girl Facebook page on October 11, 2019.
A TALE OF THE HULA GIRL
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 airplane herself has an impressive record. To wit:
Built June 18, 1944: built as C-47A C/N 12879 for use by the USAAF
June 5-6, 1945: served with the 61st Squadron in Operation Neptune as part of the assault phase for Operation Overlord in Normandy France
October 23, 1945: transferred to the US Navy
July 7, 1948: assisted in supply transport for the Berlin Airlift
February 10, 1951: stationed in South Korea for supply support of the VF-53 Squadron
November 30, 1952: remanufactured to become a C/N 43375 R4D-8/ Super DC-3 at the Douglas aircraft plant in Santa Monica, California
January 18, 1966: transferred to Nha Trang airbase for service in the Vietnam War
December 19, 1966: used as a scouting aircraft for the NASA Gemini Program
May 28, 1974: retired from the Navy and stored at Davis Monthan Air Base until being sold for civilian service
May 11, 2004: sold to Kamaka Air Inc
March 28, 2019: donated to The Fourrier Foundation
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/
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. Since the Bahamian Customs Office at the airport closes at 4:00pm, it's likely that the aircraft had delivered its cargo and had just taken off on its return flight to Opa-locka when the engine failed. 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 N763NA 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 an 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 Lost 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 the C-47B 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 new 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 musuem 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 5 December 2019----