by Don Kincl
The Model A of aviation.
It’s a good day for dramatic sky photos here at CC. This is quite an amazing shot.
Last time I flew out of San Juan Airport in June of 2003, my gate was at the far reaches of the place. Looking out the window, there were 3 of these mighty birds parked near a run down hanger. Even James Bond can fly one!
One of my favorite planes and what a magnificent picture of it!
Nice shot and nice paint, any ideas what airframe that is?
There’s a couple of DC-3s locally, I love the sound of radial engines in the morning 🙂
That is NC43XX, serial 11665. I’ve seen it at Oshkosh.
Such an elegant and ancient craft. In its form, especially the nose, you can see echoes of every jumbo jet to follow.
So lovely, brings back memories when these were still flying over Pittsburgh in the 60s.
Superb work, Mr K.
Out and about one day, I recognized the sound of twin radials and was pleased to see those classic, unmistakable DC-3 wings flying overhead, low and slowly turning. There’s an airport nearby, they must have been checking out a mechanical problem or making sure a repair was done properly.
We lost something with the switch to jets, no matter the improvement in efficiency and speed.
Beautiful aircraft, looks great with the background sunset. A relic from an era when air planes were more than just flying buses with narrower seats and less leg room.
Don’t forget the generally very smooth ride you get high up in the atmosphere above turbulence. I have only flew once in a multi prop plane (4 engines) and that was in 1968 on PSA. That plane ride was like being on a roller coaster and at 12 I was none to happy. My younger sister was scared to death and crying most of the flight. So they are great on nice clear and calm days for passengers otherwise not so much.
I flew thousands of miles in prop airliners, DC-6/7 and Convair 340 on United and Western. While it never scared me, I do have memories of the combined aroma of cigarette smoke and barf bags in use.
I’ve ridden in prop commuter planes a few times and I don’t remember the ride being that bad, but then it wasn’t in bad weather. I do remember having a much better view of the ground because of its lower altitude.
Even riding in military prop planes the ride wasn’t bad, although it was very loud, the “seats” were terrible and it was always too cold or too hot. The landings were the only scary part because they descended at a very steep angle.
I wonder if this DC-3 is a “Tribute Plane”.
According to Wikipedia, there were 607 DC-3(s) build. But there were 10,174 C-47(s) built.
It’s like someone once said on these very pages about the GTO (LeMans). I’ll paraphrase:
“Of the 607 DC-3(s) ever built, there are 1,369 still flying.”
All kidding aside, these are beautiful aircraft.
This was a C-53. Not a “tribute” but a legitimate conversion to an airliner. Many surplus C-47/C-53s were converted to DC-3s; C-54s to DC-4s and C-69s to Constellations.
On NC43XX from Propliner Magazine in 2010:
“Saturday dawned overcast and very wet but by mid-day the rain had stopped, the overcast lifted and the arrival of the strikingly painted NC43XX (c/n 11665) wearing Thunderbird Flying Service titles certainly helped to lift the spirits. Jointly owned by Dan Merritt and Eric Thun and based at Thun Field, Puyallup, Washington, it was built as a C-53 Skytrooper and served in North Africa during the war years, returning to the USA to fly as an airliner for TWA and Northeast before becoming firstly an executive transport and then a para-dropper before sale to its present owners in 2000. Working on his own over a period of two years co-owner Eric Thun has refitted the interior of the aircraft in classic art deco style complete with 1930s style hat racks, it truly is a work of art.”
Nice shot of a very significant aircraft
We have what was originally a TWA DC-3, not a military conversion, on display at the Flight Path Learning Center, LAX. I remember giving a tour to a couple of young Volaris Airbus pilots. They sat in that all-analog cockpit grinning ear to ear.
I flew in one from Nantucket to Boston in 1985, when I think PBA was the last American airline to use them. The gradual ascent and descent were much nicer than jets. We’d taken a slim commuter jet to the island, and despite bending over and bending knees, I scraped the middle of my back on the door opening.
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