DC-2 - DC-3 - C-47 - Turbo DC-3 News
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 email@example.com. 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 21 October 2020----