DC-2 - DC-3 - C-47 News
"Plane Savers" Project Achieves Major Milestone – May 8, 2019
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.
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-FJKM 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."
"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.
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.
AIRtec BT-67 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 8 May 2019----