Saturday, January 16, 2010


Via Instapundit, I see that Stan Brock (Wild Kindgom) and Remote Area Medical are taking a DC-3 full of supplies to a remote area in Haiti. Good for them.

The DC-3 is still a magnificent aircraft, used today in some parts of the world. Wikipedia says that some 400 of them are still flying, which is remarkable for an aircraft first designed almost 80 years ago. My uncle flew them in the China-Burma-India theater during WWII and was a member of the Hump Pilot's Association until his death.

I can remember as a kid, watching DC-3s fly overhead, either in civil garb or dressed for the military. They were once a common sight in these locales. I'm glad to see that the old bird is still moving around.


Anonymous said...

I flew many miles on old DC-3s as a kid.
My late dad was a Lutheran missionary in Papua New Guinea and took the family along. DCs were a main mode of transport from the coast to the highlands in the interior. (Bristol Freighters eventually replaced a lot of the DCs.)

Some flights the aisles were full of taro, chickens, and other assorted stuff. The seats were the same the paratroopers sat in--not built for comfort just utility.

They were quite the plane!

Anonymous said...

You might be interested in this. There is a company that converts DC-3s to turboprop power and basically updated everything.

Anonymous said...

I was in Engineering School in the very early 1980s.

I remember one professor, a fairly young one, holding up the DC-3 as an example of great engineering. His punch line was that they did it with slide rules capable of 3 significant digits (4 digits in the hands of a master with ample time) and a deep understanding of how airframes fail. For example, cracks generally start and holes. So the DC-3 structural members started life as massive extrusions that were machined to size but leaving a little extra beef at each critical attachment point (hole).

Computers give stupid people the ability to be stupid at ever increasing rates of speed.


Windy Wilson said...

I once went to the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica, when it was a big place on the north side of the runway (now it's a little place on the south side, where it started 30 years ago).
During the tour one of the guides pointed to a Ford Trimotor parked next to the museum and asked us how old we thought the plane was. He explained that someone was reproducing them to sell to small operations in less developed countries to fly from small airfields and be easy to maintain. I asked him why it wasn't the DC-3 that was reproduced since it made the airlines profitable compared to the trimotors, and carried more cargo and had a better glide ratio. He mumbled something about patents and then we saw the conference table used by Donald Douglas himself in the 1930's and 40's. ;D

The DC-3 may be the only aircraft from 70 years ago that would be still worth building!

El Capitan said...

Here's a fascinating account of the procedure used to fire up the engines on a DC-3 and take it airborne. It's a trifle more complicated than twisting the key and stomping on the gas!