75th DC-3 Anniversary Tour – Day 1

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2010 by hillermuseum

The journey began early this morning at the Hayward Airport with an interview with NBC11 Bay Area news at 5AM. They came to see off 97H and the Hiller Aviation Museum crew as we embark across the country joining other DC-3/C-47’s as part of the 75th anniversary tour.

Douglas Aircraft made the first flight of its new DC-3 on Dec. 17, 1935 – the 32nd anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first successful flight. It 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 carrying the C-47 designation.

Thousands of airplanes went into civilian service after WWII in countless applications, from freight to fire suppression or converted to commercial airliners or corporate aircraft. Fewer than 100 of the aircraft remain airworthy in the United States today.

We were wheels up at 6:20am with an IFR departure. Only a few minutes passed until we broke through the clouds to a beautiful sunrise. It was smooth as glass as we cruised down the San Joaquin Valley.

We hooked up with 47SJ, a C-47 out of Paso Robles just pass Palmdale and flew formation for about 15 minutes. 97H is quite a bit faster than 47SJ so we said “See ya in Albuquerque” and flew on.

Just outside Sedona, AZ we encountered our first of what ended up to be a number of thunderstorms. No big deal as we flew around them but it does make for a bumpy ride.

After 5 ½ hours we landed at Albuquerque (ABQ) and about 20 minutes later 47SJ arrived. It was a bit funny when their door opened and 18 guys piled out. We felt a little bad for them because the C-47 is in its D-day configuration with just bench seats lined along both side of the fuselage and no insulation, while we are in the comfort of 97H with her big comfy seats, insulation and stereo system. Our hats off to those guys.

Next stop, Stearman Field (1S1) in Wichita KS. Flying over the heartland reminds you just how big this country is. Unfortunately it was a typical afternoon in the Midwest, lots of thunderstorms and very bumpy but this is they way people flew 75 years ago and it is fun recreating that feeling.

The reception at Stearman Field was Awesome. Dwayne Clemens rolled out the red carpet and there had to be a few hundred people at the airport waiting to greet us after landing. We were first to arrive but right behind us was 41HQ, Jim Gabbert’s C-41 (one of a kind C-47 model). After a few passes for the crowd 41HQ landed and right behind him was 47SJ. This is a small live on airport that we had to back taxi the runway to get to parking.

The hospitality has been wonderful and we would recommend this airport to anyone. The café is a piece right out of the museum with models hanging from the ceiling and great pictures and murals on the walls.

Tomorrow we are off to Rock Falls ill. where we expect to hook up with another 30 or so airplanes. We will post again Saturday night

Paso Robles C-47


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