Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy 75th!

WIRED has an article by Jason Paur, "75th Anniversary of the Plane That Changed Everything". It's a commemoration of the first flight of the DC-3. The aircraft hit a "sweet spot" as a design, and changed how people traveled world-wide, and showed the airlines how technological improvements added to profits. Seventy-five years later, there are at least 400 still flying, and probably more that have escaped being counted. Some have been totally re-built, with the venerable radial gas engines replaced by kerosene-burning turbo-props — good to go 'til the centennial in 2035. The picture gallery is worth checking out.

The DC-3 first flew Dec. 17, 1935, 32 years to the day after the Wright brothers' first flight.

The DC-3 was a simple evolutionary advance from the DC-1 and DC-2. A pair of 1,000-horsepower Pratt & Whitney engines allowed the plane to carry 21 passengers 1,480 miles at 195 mph. Within a few years airlines had bought more than 400 DC-3s. The government bought more than 10,000 of them as military transports, the C-47.

Buffalo Airlines of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, operates the last scheduled DC-3 passenger service. The company mostly hauls cargo, but there are seats available for flights between Hay River and Yellowknife if you find yourself in the neighborhood.


Southern Quebec said...

Back in the early '70's I was actually on a DC3. It was going from Nassau to Eleuthera in the Bahamas. It was a plane run by ClubMed -- the pilot was wearing short and a Hawaiian shirt.

Because they fly low, the view was spectacular. On the other hand, THEY ARE REALLY NOISY!

Boris said...

I love flying into Yelloknife just to get a look at the Buffalo fleet. There's a C46 Commando or two up there as well.

ThinkingManNeil said...

I've flown in one of the oldest flying DC-3's around - "Canucks Unlimited" (C-GDAK) - which is part of the airworthy collection of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. It truly is a remarkable aeroplane. When the last 747 Jumbo Jet is broken up for scrap somewhere around the World will be a Douglas DC-3, it's Pratt & Whitney radials still, chugging away, earning it's keep hauling freight and people.

Bob Devine said...

My first flite ever was out of Calgary back in1970. I flew from Imperial Oils Hanger to Hay River in a DC3 and a Beaver from there to the camp job I was going to. That old Beaver scared the tar out of me taking off. I thought for sure we were going to hit the trees on the top of the bank of the river near the end of the runway. Wow the times we had back then.