Gooney Birds in Canada & Alaska

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

Even without the engines, this DC-3C C-FDTH (cn12591) looks great. It was delivered to the USAAF as 42-92755 in 1944, undoubtedly in a less colourful coat of paint. It went to Canada, the same year, to the RCAF as KG479. It operated with Trans Canada as CF-TEB and as CF-DTH with the Department of Transportation. Don't the curtains for the windows look nice ? I have no idea what the use is of the enlarged extra window behind the cockpit. I took this photograph in 1999 at Red Deer, Alberta (Canada), where it is stored with Air Spray.

Consider this tale which Barbara Wheelock sent me in Oct.2006:
"My story. My father was in the RCAF, and when I was a college student circa 1967, the rest of my family was with him on a posting in Lahr, West Germany. For holidays, etc., I would often visit them in Europe, and I would travel from Ottawa to Trenton, Ontario, on a VIP DC-3 Dakota, in order to connect to the Yukon aircraft that would be travelling to Europe.
The interior of the DC-3 was very elegant and roomy, and the upholstery and curtains were beautifully done in the Royal Canadian Air Force tartan. I would often be the only person on the plane, and a steward in full livery - with white gloves - would serve me drinks on the way. The pilot would usually carry my on-board luggage for me when we deplaned, and it was a lovely image to see the DC-3 - so light, so pleasing to the eye, as we crossed the tarmac. I will never forget it.
Now, I have a DC-3 1940s chrome table lamp, on the half-globe base, in my living room to remind me of those gentle days, and the magnificent DC-3 Dakota .
Fond memory."

Here is what Drew Deneault sent me:
My father Laurent J. Deneault was the chief pilot of this aircraft, while it was in use for Transport Canada and more specifically the Canadian Coast Guard.
My father started off as a Pilot in the RCAF, flying a CF101 Voodoo, then left the military to join Transport Canada and fly the DC3.
He has a certificate from Douglas, congratulating him on acquiring over 10.000 hours specifically on C-FDTH.

Jeff Rankin-Lowe provided the following aviation history for C-FDTH:

- delivered to USAAF as C-47A-15-DK, s/n 42-92755, 22.2.44
- t/o/s by RCAF as Dakota Mk III, s/n KG479, 7.3.44
- to 32 OTU (RAF)*, 1944
- stored, 24.4.44
- s/o/s by RCAF, 19.2.46
- to Trans-Canada Air Lines as DC-3, CF-TEB, 14.9.46
- to Department of Transport as DC-3A-456, CF-DTH, 11.1.61
- reregistered as C-FDTH, 1976
- used by Canadian Coast Guard** for anti-pollution patrols and ice reconnaissance
- reported wfu 1995
- sold to Buffalo Airways as DC-3A-456, C-FDTH, 16.3.96 (or) 12.5.98 [sources disagree]
- noted stored (engineless; Red Deer Alberta), 7.03
- noted in Buffalo Airways hangar (engineless; Red Deer, Alberta), 8.04
- last noted, 2.05

* 32 OTU was an RAF training unit located in Canada.
** CCG is part of DOT

I found it stored inside the Buffalo Airways hangar during June 2006 -RL

C-47A C-FROD (cn13028) shares a fate similar to that of C-FDTH: stored at Red Deer for Buffalo Airways. This Skytrain was delivered to the USAAF as 42-108918 and transferred to RAF Montreal as KG545. It remained in RCAF's military service (at one time reregistered to 12927, and designated a CC-129 Dakota III) untill Buffalo Airways bought it in 1980 and had it registered as C-GPNW. Later it became C-FROD and it stored for many years here.
C-FROD was donated (and transported by road in May 2004) by Buffalo Airways to the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton,Alberta. If you follow the museum you link, you'll see how I saw C-FROD upon my 2006 visit.

Aad van der Voet ( contributed (Oct.2013) info on various DC-3 a.o. registered as 'C-FROD':
C-FROD in the Alberta Aviation Museum is c/n 13028.
While the one reported at Hay River 09Sep2013, showing 'Buffalo Freight Liner'-titles below the windows, is C-FROD c/n 12307.
C-FROD was first applied on a DC-3 on c/n 12307; it was reg'd as such by Buffalo Airways on 21Feb1990 and then crashed in June 1994. The wreck went to Hay River and reportedly is still there (current 2016).
Buffalo subsequently used the same registration on c/n 13028, reg'd on 15Sep1995. It went to the Alberta Aviation Museum in May 2004 (the museum is under threat of closure, see updates on my 2007 report).
Last but not least: C-FROD was also used by deHavilland DHC-3 Otter c/n 440, between 1963 and 1986.

It returned to Buffao A/ws, a link here as seen on 06Jun2016 at Red Deer

As Jeff Rankin-Lowe wrote: "The owner of Buffalo Airways is Joe McBryan. His brother's name is Rod, hence the apparent desire to keep a C-FROD in their fleet after the first one was damaged beyond economical repair."

You may want to check out Mikey McBryan's Plane Savers video (Episode 77, 19Mar19) where he walks around Red Deer, he and hi sfather Joe McBryan take the viewers on a grand tour over the airport here.
Also, on Episode 76 Joe takes the viewer inside C-FROD and details its history!


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.
See my updated item on Photos by Friends & Guests #38, with c/n 34378 (now NC33611) offered for sale (Feb.2019). It is expected to participate in the Daks over Normandy 2019 event.

See my report on D-Day 75, Daks over Duxford (2019) in which NC33611 participated in splendid form!

UPDATE JULY 2020: NC33611 For sale on US$995.000. "One of a kind corporate configured 1945 Douglas DC-3. S/N 34378 is the former transport of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Outboard and Marine Manufacturing and EAA. Low total time with only 17,896 hours. This DC-3 was the last of its model to operate carrying passengers for a Part 121 Air Carrier on the US registry and also has a number of historic aviation figures in its logbook such as Paul Poberezney and Jimmy Leeward to name a few. S/N 34378 was the cover for Flying Magazine in August 1981 and AOPA Magazine in December 2016. This is a rare turn-key opportunity to purchase an exceptionally cared for DC-3 with spare parts and support equipment."

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.
UPDATE 2015:
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)

Update Oct.2019: it was seen in tow on Facebook ('Bush Planes Alaska'), over the road heading for Chena Marina nearby (according subsequent comment on the FB post). It was also stated that this might mean Roger Brooks' yard was being cleaned out (finally). See my Photos by Friends & Guests #59.

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. It is apparently for sale.
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.

For more background info on the C-47 Skytrain and its many variants in military service, please follow this link: C-47 Skytrain
And how it all started with the DC-1, DC-2 and that Plane that Changed the World: the DC-3... can be found on this link: History of the DC-3

To DC-3 Gate Page

Alan A. Sandercott from B.C. Canada wrote me in Jan.2018: "Saw your website and noted your info on DC-3, CF-CPX (N8061A).
We are in the process of building a 1/8 scale model of the plane. My webisite contains building photos as well as the planes history!"

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