Happy Anniversary Wright Brothers (and DC-3 First Flight)
DC-3 reunion planned for AirVenture 2010
December 17, 2009 — Not only is today the 106th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first successful powered flight, it is the birthday of the venerable Douglas DC-3. On December 17, 1935, the first DC-3 flew over southern California, an uneventful maiden flight for what would become one of the most important aircraft in aviation history, and is still used as a workhorse aircraft around the world.
Next summer at AirVenture Oshkosh 2010, EAA plans a major celebration of the 75th anniversary of the DC-3 and its military variant, the C-47. In addition to a massed gathering of aircraft, there will be special programming throughout the week aimed at reuniting scores of pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, crew chiefs, paratroopers and passengers that flew, operated and traveled in these aircraft.
While exact details of the festivities are still being finalized, planned activities include a mass formation arrival, a designated aircraft display area, historical and technical forums/presentations, fly-bys and a special evening DC-3 commemorative program at Theater in the Woods.
A group of DC-3 owners and operators has organized to join the reunion with a massed formation arrival at Oshkosh on opening day of AirVenture. The gaggle is planning to gather up in Rock Falls, Illinois on the weekend prior, arriving at Oshkosh on Monday, July 28. For those wishing to participate in the group arrival, a website has been launched at www.thelasttime.org . Up to 25 arrival slots are available.
The DC-3 was first designed as an all-metal passenger airliner, later evolving to a coast-to-coast luxury transport complete with sleeping berths. By the late 1930s, it was estimated that 90 percent of America’s airline passengers were flying in the DC-3. More than 14,000 of the type were built, with some 10,000 of them used extensively in all World War II operations theaters carrying the C-47 designation.
Fewer than 100 of the aircraft remain airworthy in the United States. Thousands of those airplanes went into civilian service after the war in countless applications, from freight to fire suppression. The airplanes continued to be upgraded for many uses today, with one of the world’s leading DC-3 converters - Basler Turbo Conversions - based at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, also home to EAA and AirVenture.