DC-3 75 Anniversary Tour

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2010 by hillermuseum

Day 4 – The Last Time

Incredible, unbelievable, awe inspiring. There are not enough adjectives to describe today. It started out with a two hour briefing at 8:30am. That was a long briefing but this is serious business and there is no room for mistakes.

24 DC-3’s/C-47’s sat patiently on the ramp waiting for the assigned 12:22pm time to start engines. Just minutes before start there was no one on the ramp. It was a little eerie, just magnificent proud airplanes gleaming in the mid-west sun. Then precisely at 12:22 Dan Gryder in the lead DC-3 started to turn his right engine. Within seconds plane after plane started turning. You could feel the power on the ramp. The only better place to be than sitting in the plane and taking part of history would have been with the few thousand people that came out to watch the take-offs. It was truly amazing.

The plan was to line up and take off as soon as the planes wheels left the ground in front of you. Just like WWII. The emotion was running high in the cockpit. None of us could really believe what we were witnessing let alone taking part in.

A DC-3 that was two planes in front of us aborted the take-off but without missing a beat the next plane waited for him to clear and then off they went and we were right behind. We made a wide right hand traffic as planes started to form up. We flew over the top of Rock Falls and started our trek to Oshkosh. Along the way everyone started to tighten up the formation. We were #11 in the group and there is no way to describe looking out the cockpit window and seeing 10 DC-3’s in formation. There is a country song about an old timer showing black and white pictures of when he was young in WWII and he says “You should have seen it in color”. Well that is all we could think about, we were seeing it in color. Looking out we had two C-47’s off our wing and you couldn’t help but think about what the young men were thinking about over 60 years ago when in that plane was there good friends and they may or may not be seeing them again after each mission. We can never appreciate enough what they did and sacrificed for us.

People on the ground at Oshkosh later told us they could hear the sound of the 42 round engines approaching the field. We ended up with 21 aircraft in the formation, three bailed out along the way for various reasons. By the time we got to Oshkosh you could tell the pilots were getting tired by the chatter on the radio. It is very hard work to fly formation for that long in those big airplanes but by the time we arrived everyone had it down pretty good and the formation was pretty tight.

We flew right over the top at about 2500 msl. Then about 3 miles past the airport we started breaking left and right at 10 second intervals. The landing sequence went off with only a few go rounds and we landed without any bounces. Not easy to do with thousands of people watching and rating your landing.

Tuesday is supposed to be a flying day for us at the show but we haven’t heard any word about it yet. Hopefully we will get to fly again with this great group of people.

Needless to say, this will be a day non of us will ever forget

Taking-off at Rock Falls


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