The Douglas DC-3 has captured the imagination of many people and rightfully so: while the first examples came off the production line in the 1930s, it is still around, earning its keep all over the world. Here are a few I came across in Alaska and Canada.
Photos © R.Leeuw
Consider this tale which Barbara Wheelock sent me in Oct.2006:
Here is what Drew Deneault sent me:
This fine C-47B N1944H (c/n 34378) earns a living in Alaska. It started its career with the USAAF as 45-1108 in 1945 and became NC54542 with Outboard and Marine Mfg Co. and stayed under that ownership thru the 1950s, 1960s till March 1977. It must have been a loyal servant! Thru the hands of Basler/EAA Aviation Foundation in Wisconsin, it went to ERA Classic Aviation for scenic flights on The Last Frontier. I came across it at Seward,AK in 1995.
This is how Walt Brubaker recalls flying this vintage transport.
Security concerns after 'nine-eleven' (2001) called for reinforcement of cockpit doors; ERA Aviation concerned these costly improvement for their DC-3s N1944H and N1944M and decided to put both DC-3s up for sale in 2003 (both were ferried to Reno,Nevada for this).
And indeed both found new owners!
N1944M has been beautifully restored as American A/L DC-3 NC16005; an april 2017 update by Tim Chaloner on Photos by Friends & Guests (50) shows it in immaculate condition at the Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana-Orange County/SNA.
And N1944H was rereg'd N33611 for N1944H LLC / PMDG Flight Operations LLC (28Feb2014) and since 2012 is seen repainted in vintage Pan American c/s.
This PMDG seems to be based (office?) in Alexandria,VA. It visited the AirVenture 2016 at Oshkosh. Trying to figure out where N33611 'Tabitha May' is based, I noticed it flew on 16May17 from Laurence G Hanscom Field (Bedford,MA - BED) to Manassas Regional Airport (Washington,DC - HEF). The latter seems to be its actual base.
It seems that C-47A N50CM has an airframe plate fitted describing it as cn13446, but that example has been noted in history as exported to Russia in 1945, never to be recorded again.... It is understood that N50CM is cn13445, which started its history as 42-93524 with the USAAF in 1944. It went thru many owners, none of them familiar airlines. I photographed it at Palmer,AK in 1995, where it was put thru good use by Woods Air Service. Considering the area to cover in Alaska, most transport of goods go thru the air, as many communities cannot be reached by ground transportation.
I came across N50CM stored / for sale at Palmer in 2003 and operational for Bush Air Cargo on Anchorage, june 2006.
C-47A N777YA (cn25634) started with the USAAF as 43-48373 in 1944. But this one went to the US Navy, redesignated R4D-6 with tailnumber 17259.
In 1946 it was registered to Wien Alaska Airlines (NC21769) and it remained in Alaska for a number of years, although it changed ownership a few times: Aero Retardent Inc.(N777DG), Pacific Alaska Airlines, Pacific Galactic (N777PG). Then it went thru various owners in the Lower 48, but returned in 1980 to Alaska for Pacific Galactic Air Inc and Yute Air in 1983.
I came across it with Woods Air Service in Palmer,AK which is situated in the most fantastic scenic environment.
N777YA followed N50CM to Bush Air Cargo (registered 14Apr05).
Some very nice photos of N777YA can be seen, sitting on an ice lake in Alaska
Photos of N777YA are featured at various pages of my website, check through Google link.
Sadly, N777YA was wrecked upon landing at the Nixon Fork Mine, near McGrath,AK on 22Nov2015. Apparently on landing 'the Arctic Liner' struck a snow berm and the landing gear went through the wing! Fortunately, initial reports showed both crew to escape without serious injuries.
Tailnumber N95460 is fading away, as are the parts of this C-47A (cn20190). It started its career as 43-15724 with the USAAF in 1944. It went to Alaska ATC in 1944 and as NC95460 to Northern Consolidated Airlines in 1953. From 1967 to 1971 it went to Interior Airways, which operated out of Fairbanks,AK. Later it operated for Yukon Air Service and it was registered to Air North in 1977. And there is where the trail seems to end..... I documented its sorry state in 1995, when I came across it at Fairbanks,AK, where it was stored with Brooks Fuel.
In 2003 I found it still stored with Brooks (2003)
DC-3C N8061A (c/n 6085) was sitting idle at Kenai,AK in 1995. But it looked in great shape.
It was delivered in 1942 as 41-18679 to the USAAF and went to Canada as CF-CPX for Canadian Pacific in 1945. During sometime in the 1960s it operated for Harrison Airways and later it went to Futura Airlines. In 1979 it was registered N8061A for Stannelco Inc. in Anchorage,AK and in 1982 to Salair of Boeing Field,WA.
Alaska is 'Propliner Heaven' as many of these workhorses make a living with the transport of commodities, fuel, supplies to/from various outposts as well as minerals from Mining Corporations. And many try to get contracts form Fishery Factories when the salmon-season starts.
N8061A was registered to Jim Hankins Air Service (Jackson,MS) 19Nov96 and reported on contract at Savannah,GA on 06Aug05.
UPDATE!!! My Photos by Friends & Guests (43) has a 2015 photo where it was photographed at Jackson,MS. But on 15Mar17 Preferred Airparts LLC of Kidron,OH had it reg'd to its name (together with N3BA, another C-47 of Jim Hankins Air Service).
Credits:the above historical information has been found in "The Douglas DC-3 and its predecessors" by J.M.G.Gradidge (the bible for avid DC-3 enthusiasts) and various volumes on the DC-3 written by A. Pearcy.