History of DC-3 c/n 32945, by Gil White

 

VH-MML
C/n 16197/32945

Manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Corporation at Oklahoma City in Oklahoma and rolled off the production line on 26/3/1945. Aircraft was designated as a C-47B-30-DK. During the war years allocated the U.S. serial number 44-76613. On 29/3/1945 acquired by the Royal Air Force and redesignated as a Dakota IV and given the prefix KN470 seeing war service near Cairo and later in India and Burma. Later saw service with the Royal Pakistan Air Force as H-717 and as the DC-3s were being replaced by Bristol Freighters it was sold to Field Aircraft Services on 11/1/1954 and registered G-ANMA.

Purchased by MacRobertson Miller Aviation Co P/L on 20/1/1954 for 15,000. Departed Karachi on 14/2/1954 and routed via Calcutta, Rangoon, Singapore, Sourabaya, Broome and arrived in Perth on 17/2/1954. Struck off the British civil register on 18/2/1954. The crew for the ferry flight, which was flown under the British registration, was Captain A Whitham, First Officer K Barker and Engineer F Colquhoun. Reregistered VH-MML to the company on 20/4/1954.

This aircraft was a specially converted windowless freighter and was stripped to an empty weight of 15097lbs for the Air Beef Operations. It had the distinction of being the lightest DC-3 in the world but also according to the many pilots that flew this aircraft also being the noisiest as all soundproofing had been removed.

Whilst with company aircraft was initially named 'Gascoyne' and had an Air Beef logo and titling painted on before being renamed RMA 'Lyndon' but was nicknamed by all the crews that flew this aircraft as 'The Freighter'. When the aircraft was renamed 'Lyndon' the Air Beef logo and titling were removed.

On 24/12/1954 this aircraft was involved with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in an incident when the Port Hedland based Avro Anson was undergoing a routine maintenance inspection and was not available until much later that night. As this aircraft was the only available aircraft in the immediate vicinity it flew the Doctor out to Conjoin Station, which was near where a serious motor accident had been reported, and fly the accident victims back to hospital where they subsequently recovered. Pilot in command of this mercy flight was Captain H M Rowell.

During 1958 this aircraft whilst carrying a spare DC-3 engine between Broome and Derby struck severe turbulence and the cargo broke loose from its mountings hitting the aircraft's roof, puncturing a hole in it and bending the circular beams of the fuselage. When it dropped back to the floor it broke the horizontal beams under the floor, but fortunately did not jam any of the control cables. The movement of the engine caused the aircraft to be extremely tail heavy. Aircraft landed safely at Derby. The crew involved in this incident were M Gent and R Kralert.

Later in its career with M.M.A. aircraft used for high altitude photography by Kevron Photographics P/L of Perth who had been awarded the contract for aerial photography by the Federal Government. The area for photographing was between Kalgoorlie, Esperance and Forrest. Aircraft was later converted to 32-passenger configuration. Ferried to Melbourne by known crewmember Captain Eric Miller.

On 10/1/1969 sold to Ansett-Mandated Airlines Ltd trading as Ansett-MAL and also saw service with Ansett Airlines of Papua New Guinea P/L and Ansett (P & N G) P/L. During November 1973 sold to Air Niugini, which was based at Port Moresby in New Guinea and registered P2-MML and later reregistered P2-ANV on 21/10/1975.

Sold to Bush Pilots Airways Ltd on 1/8/1977 and reregistered VH-BPN to the company on 20/10/1977. Ownership of aircraft transferred to Air Queensland P/L when the company renamed and registered to the newly named company on 8/1/1982. In April 1988 Air Queensland ceased operations and aircraft was initially placed in storage at Cairns Airport and later ferried down to Brisbane and placed in storage outside the Trans Australia Airlines Maintenance Base until purchased by Air Rambler (Australia) P/L for operation by DC-3 Queensland which is a subsidiary of Rambler Coaches in Victoria and was registered to the company on 7/4/1988. Whilst in service with company aircraft flew sightseeing tours and charter flights.

At one stage this aircraft was painted in Pan American Airways System colour scheme and given the incorrect titling of Pan American Airways Systems for a movie 'Sniper' starring Tom Berringer that was shot on location at Rabaul in New Guinea but in its starring role it still carried the Australian registration instead of an American registration. When this aircraft was withdrawn from service it had flown 45500 hours.

Sold to R Lang of Highbury in S.A and registered to the owner on 2/7/1992. Above the windows was titled 'Dick Langs Desert-Air Safaris' and used for outback safaris and weekend charter flights. On 6/3/1994 this aircraft whilst on a charter flight from Adelaide to Launceston via Portland damaged both propellers in a landing accident at Portland. Repaired to reenter service.
VH-MML Sold to Dakota National Air (Australia) P/L, which was based at Bankstown and registered to the company on 13/9/1995. Whilst in service with its latest owner it operates sightseeing tours and charter flights.

During the final days of February 2004 the Administrators Hall Chadwick, which was based in Sydney advertised Dakota National Air trading as Discovery Air Tours for urgent sale or as an investment opportunity in the nation's media.

Still in service with the company in August 2005.

© Gil White

To my page Australia 2005


Gil White 2005IN MEMORIAM.
"It has been a great pleasure to have known you all, but my days are now numbered." -24Jun06.
Gil White passed away on 27Jun06. He will be remembered by me as a enthusiastic (Ansett) historian and a courageous person; may he rest in peace.


 


Last updated 26.3.2006