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Why the DC-3 is such a Badass Plane

Eight decades after its first flight, the DC-3 remains an aviation legend. ( More...

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I had the privilege of working as a stewardess on one of these wonderful legends, back when Frontier still had several
of them. I held, as well, an ASEL, so I appreciated the DC-3 a lot more than the other girls, who only worked on them
when they didn't get their bid on a 737. I only bid the DC-3s. The crews were amazing and the passengers great. The
galley was a tray of sandwiches covered in saranwrap, a couple of thermos of hot water and a CocaCola cooler. We
took off when the 737s were grounded due to weather. I believe that the DC-3 is considered to be one of the safest
aircraft ever built because she can land in a farmers field, among our things. Thank you so much for submitting your
article on my favorite aircraft of all times! May she live forever!
Don Whyte 13
Nice to hear you calling the plane "she". Refreshing in this era of dubious political correctness!
btweston -6
Ronald McKee 10
I had the honor of flying 144 combat missions in the back of the EC-47 in Vietnam. Mission was classified Top Secret at the time but is being declassified. We were doing ARDF (Airborne Radio Direction Finding). What an awesome airplane (most of them older than our pilots). Not much written about us; but if you are interested visit: or for more information about us and the Gooney Bird in Vietnam.
Bruce Bowe 3
I was an 05H(then called 058) in the cold war. My hat's off to you and all the ASA combat vets!

A postscript to this, is that my dad was in the ATC in WW2 and flew over 135 missions across the Atlantic, the vast majority in a C-47. Then, flew as an AA Captain in them for years. Always had great praise for the craft.
A close friend of mine, Anthony J.'Tony' Skok crewed in EC47s back in the day with the USAF. We crossed paths when the USMC/USN, in collaboration with the CIA, flew then Top Secret/ES/SCI (my clnc) ELINT missions in civilian cargo livery aboard C-130s and C-117s out of Danang, TSN, Thailand and Taipei, '68-'70. Thems was the days... Semper Fi!
panam1971 10
One can only wonder how many A-380s and Dreamliners will be flying in 80 years. Long live the Gooney!
bentwing60 3
Long ago and far away I once flew the Cavanaugh Flight Museums C47 with Aubrey Hare, an old school and retired Delta captain, and when I commented on how much control input it took to see a result he looked at me and smiled and said, Son, in a Gooney we just stretch flight control cables, the rest is what happens. Cheers.
Peter Maas 3
I like 3 airplanes. The B-29, The F-16 and this one the DC3 I flew on a DC3 from Surabaja, Indonesia to Djakarta in 1947. I was 9 years old. My father was stationed in the Indonesia Islands for 22 years with the Dutch Army. Years later I flew in a DC3 from Chicago Midway Airport to San Antonio Texas in 1958 to report for basic training in the U.S. Air Force . From Chicago the first stop was Terre Haute Indiana then St. Louis, MO ,on to Memphis TN next, then Oklahoma City on to Dallas Texas and finally arriving in San Antonio. The B-29 dropped the atomic bomb on Japan which resulted the end of World War II. My mother and I spent 4 years in a Japanese war prison camp on Java and the B-29 saved us. I have been inside the B-29. Ellsworth Air Force Base has one on display.
5 stop connection to San Antonio - LOVE IT !
Peter Maas 0
yes,and picked up few more Air Force recruits at each stop. DC3 (C-47) was also used in WWII to pull gliders to the battle front in the Netherlands. My uncles guided them in with flash lights unknown to the Germans. Darkness played an important factor.
Paul Eldred 5
Any plane that is still flying after all these years.......has got to be bad ass.Would love to experience a flight in one.
SmokedChops 2
in the ensuing 8 decades, how many 'DC-3 Replacements' have come and gone? Hat tip to all who served throughout its entire career!
The DC-3 and it's era will never be forgotten. I only got to fly aboard one, one time, from Salt lake City to Dallas with two stops in between. I was wearing my class A uniform and was tired so I just took the seat directly across from the door. The stewardess took the seat next to me and promptly fell asleep, she looked beat. At the first stop she was still asleep so I got up and let a couple off and some more got on, I closed the door, gave a thumbs up to the co-pilot who was looking down the aisle and away we went. The same thing happened at the next stop but when we got to dallas I had to wake her up, told her what had happened, she thanked me, and we all went our separate ways. No TSA, No grippy passengers just a good flight on a great airplane. Those were the days. I never got to fly a DC-3 but I did get to pilot a C-47 which I understand was almost the same. GREAT PLANES!
Ron Lorenz 3
Back in the 60s I worked for a chemical plant in Torrance, a few of us would get off work
and drive to Long Beach airport and get on a DC3 and fly to Hawthorne nv,and spend 5-6hrs
gambling and such, then get back on it, and get back to Long Beach in time to go home clean up and get back to work on time. I remember after we got airborne the Pilots door would open and a arm would hand a couple bottles of Champagne out for the trip over. The Good ole days!
Mark Lansdell 0
Ahhhh the 60s. Life was good .
Ron Lorenz 0
On the down side of it, not too long after one of our trips
it went down in the Serrias and wasn't found for a couple yrs.
Bruce McDanel 3
My father told me a story of seeing C-47s flying back to England in WWII with an engine dead and smoking and holes in the wings that made it a wonder they could fly with both engines. I had the privilege of some left seat time in one while in ROTC in 1970. Talk about a sedate flier. When turning, one only had to bank in the direction of the turn and hold the nose up. The rudder didn't even come into play on a gentle turn. It was as if the plane knew what to do.
jena weber 3
My mother was a stewardess on a Chicago Southern DC-3. Oh the stories she would share.
Beautiful lady, both of them!
I'm ashamed to say that I was slightly uninterested to fly in one when the opportunities came at local fields... After reading about the legend, I can promise this, never again!
bentwing60 2
It's kind of surprising on you first trip how steep the hill is when you go in the door and turn left.
Buddy Howard 1
LOL, I hadn't thought about that, but it is a bit of an uphill climb. Thanks for jogging a really profound part of the experience in my memory.
joel wiley 2
When topics like this pop up, I always wonder what Preacher1 might have added.
Going on 2 years now and I, for one, still miss him.
Mark Lansdell 3
You have a partner here, Joel. There were others too. Dee comes to mind, with the feminine point of view. But Preacher was special.
My first flight on any airplane was on a North Central DC3 from Purdue Airport to O'Hare in 1966. I will never forget it. I transferred to a 727 flying to Tampa. My first flights were in two legendary aircraft. For nostalgia, I flew in the beautiful Flagship Detroit when in visited Tulsa a few years ago.
pblasman 1
When my dad retired from Douglas in 1995, he was the last active employee to have worked on DC-3's. I think one of the last things he did was refit C-47s for S E Asia in the 60's and 70's . He told me that this was one of his favorites.
matt jensen 1
Fondest memories of first flights
Rob Palmer 1
Remember flight to Boston in 1947. Took all day: Wash National, Baltimore (the old Harbor Airport), Newark (looks the same), New Haven (landed on grass), and Logan landed on unsanded ice. Cost: Something like $10.
We have one Dc3 named Daisy in Sweden, flown by flying veterans, everyone can become a memberand take a trip to europé.
Billy Gee 1
Was there an issue with the windows?

Lois Lettini 1
Were you asking me? If so, I have no idea, actually.
I was a passenger on the University of Missouri DC3 in 1966 flying from Rolla, MO to Ishpeming, Upper Peninsula, MI. The passenger windows appeared to be a single (thin) piece of plexiglass held rather loosely in a frame. These panes rattled and shook. Additionally, I sat in the starboard side front passenger seat which was near what looked like a common steam radiator that I was told was for cabin heat. It was my first flight in anything bigger than a Cessna 152 and was a fairly low and slow flight to Michigan, but great fun for an aviation enthusiast. :)
Lois Lettini 1
My VERY first airplane flight was on a DC3 in 1961 from Oshkosh to Chicago. (I was going on to NY out of ORD). I still remember the tilt walking UP the aisle. I did get a big air sick but nothing serious. I was too excited to be going to NY at age 21. I also flew one time the Convair from LGA to BOS. That was interesting?? This was a very good article.
As a private pilot I never had the chance to fly this beauty. However she was the first aircraft that I flew as a passenger when I was 7 years old. And from that precise momento I was "Hooked on this Classic".
I neglected to mention that in 1973 I crewed on a 117D out of El Toro piloted by CWO (Gunner) Henry Wilfang! He came out our way from Cherry Point on a TAD 'IG' trip to inspect VMGR-352. He insisted on getting some stick time on a shiny C-117 that had just returned from PAR - on the hop to MCB (at the time) 29 Palms, we landed on Marston matting - the only operating runway on the base back then.
Scott Clausen 1
My father was a crewman on DC-3s in WWII and always spoke highly of the aircraft. In the seventies, I was stationed in Iceland and we used to fly in a DC-3 to the east side of the island for work. On the flight, we often flew over the carcass of a DC-3 on the beach. I often wondered how it got there but was never able to find out.
Look up the isachsen ice station c-47 crash same thing but up in Canada . The USAF accident report is available
ron baird 1
I got to fly one in central America in the late 1960s. Such a sweet bird.

Better is the store of a friend of mine who was, in the old Frontier Airlines, its chief pilot. On a trip from Durango Colorado to Denver Colorado in a snowstorm, they felt a bump, and figured it was turbulence. On landing in Denver, they found they were missing 13 feet of the left outboard wing. The next summer, it was found on a mountaintop. Thank God these days for better altimeters, being able to fly over storms, and lots of other things.
But, the feeling of landing and taking off so slowly in a DC-3, and its superb handling characteristics, is unforgettable.
Mark Lansdell 1
Oscar Brand put it to song, " wing asque, but still she flew..."
Thomas Morgan 1
My last flight on a C-47 was from Phu Cat AB to Cameron Bay in Vietnam. Great old airplane that I still occasionally see in the air near Toledo. My first flight was on a C-47 from Truax Field in Madison Wisconsin to Richards Gabor AB in Kansas city with a load of test equipment for calibration. Both were experiences and fond memories I will never forget.
Peter Maas 1
I was stationed at U.S. Air Force
Air base "Richards-Gebaur" for 1 year and rented an apartment off base in Belton, MO.
This was after my duties in Japan, Vietnam, and Hawaii. We had F-102 Delta Dagers jet fighters and two C-47 for cargo (MATS) at Richard-Gebaur. The F-102 always used their drag chutes when landing and ground crews had to pick them up right away because the chutes can be caught by the propeller driven aircraft. The mail plane( C-47) always came in at 0500 hrs. daily. Military mail is never send by U.S.P.S. Always by military aircraft.
Michael Hoare 1
Hi all im from Australia and i am a volunteer guide at HARS(Historic Aircraft Restoration Society) based at Albion Park in NSW and we have 3 DC3/C47 Dakota aircraft all in airworthy condition.All 3 were built as C47 Dakotas with one aircraft,after war service being converted to a passenger aircraft and this aircraft became the very first aircraft for TAA (Trans Australia Airlines) which was absorbed into Qantas.I agree with everyone they are a very robust aircraft having been on a short flight in one.
joel wiley 1
Another squawk on volunteer airlift after Hurricane Harvey mentioned the DC-3 "Southern Cross" in the airlift.
D-Day 1944, Berlin 1948-49, Harvey 2017 and others too numerous to mention.
They just keep going and going and going.
Chris B 1
Recall watching them in use during the 1970s in the Channel Islands. Still a beautiful design.
Kirk Smick 1
I was in the army as a doctor in FKT in 1970 and lived next door to some FAA inspectors and would ride the Gooney Bird with them to shoot approaches in Ireland and Athens. Great ship.
warbird 1
Flew in a C-47 several times during my tour in Korea while stationed on a remote island, landing on a beach and once with only one engine! Had to don a Mae West more than once! A GREAT aircraft!
Ken Small 1
Had the opportunity of being an Airframe tech in the RCAF back in the '60's. Overhauled many of these birds! A true valiant champion in the skies!
Alan Brown 1
There have been three planes that stand out in my flying live as the most solid of all aircraft. They are the DC-3, the Convair 580, and C-130. They were all strong, solid and at least two of them have lasted for a long time. I was never a pilot, but only either a passanger or aircrew. One of my first tastes of flying as a C.A.P. cadet was in a Gooney Bird in the early '60s in Southern Florida and it was a great experience.
Russ Brown 1
My first flight ever was around 1948 in a DC-3 from Seattle to Spokane. Going over the Cascades was quite a ride - fun and exciting until my big brother puked.

Last DC-3 flight was 1962 in Hawaii.
Between 1945 and 1954, my Dad piloted DC-3s among the islands for Hawaiian Airlines. He carried a few passengers, but perhaps it was pineapples that was the most weight on board. (He flew Black Cat PBYs in the SW Pacific during WWII). I missed out on DC-3s, but flew a succession of DC-4s from Hawaii to Boston dressed in a Cub Scout uniform at the age of seven. With a brilliant memory, my Dad then became a tech-rep for Douglas Aircraft—the AD-1 and AD-4 getting most of his attention. :)
Henry Cr 1
Some memories NEVER fade. As a 6 year old kid I made my first flight on a DC-3 on the little island of Tobago in the Caribbean back in 1949. My heart beat as fast as the props rotated. The sensation awed me as much as a kid could be. When we lifted off it was unbelievable to my little mind that I was a bird.
It was many years later when I soloed as a private pilot, I mentally revisited my childlike sensations and that first flite on the Gooney Bird was truly memorable.
Daniel Truax 1
I was an instructor in Corpus Christi dual qualified in the Gooney bird and the AF T-29 convair. I got way more flight time than the others because they didn't like to taxi without nose wheel steering.
Mark Lansdell 1
Sometimes our prejudices get in our own way. When your personal mission is more air time you have to get along with the aircraft most available, or available at the time. I suppose, if you're rejecting airtime for not liking an airplane you just don't want to fly bad enough. I've been looking for a reasonably priced dicast DC-3 if you know of one available.
I was a crew chief on a Gooney bird (DC-3, C-47) at my last duty station before getting out of the Air Force in 1966, and I really enjoyed that plane.
Mark Lansdell 0
Sometimes the just talk to you, don't they chief ?
Mark Lansdell 3
I think if the wing broke off, she'd still fly and they'd call it a DC2 1/2.
Elden Reedy 1
I was with the 335th Radio Research Company, 509th RR Group, we were the ground folks you might have talked to -- Four Corp (Delta).
We were also known by ASA -- Army Security Agency (in the rest of the world.
Top Secret (Crypto)missions.
Andy Wilson 1
There are several I've spotted sitting while traveling around Thailand. The island Kho Khet in Nonthaburi district of Bangkok has one sitting out in front of a restaurant along riverside. There are several spotted via Google earth at old Don Muang airport. Used to be a few off the highway going past Chonburi to Rayong but that scrap metal place seems to have moved since my visit last year
The old girl is still flying on sked service with Buffalo Air out of YZF.
I just found out, on charter only, there sked service is on hold.
Tony Di Bona 1
While working in the Philippines during 64-70 and attached to the Naval Air folks I had the priviledge of being flown around the P.I. bases aboard C-47's piloted by WW2 vintage Navy chiefs.They were a rare breed of flyers that were made piolots during the war even at the CPO rank.. Very good pilots.
B. J. 1
When I was 12 (1956) I got to ride in a DC3 down to Mexico City. It was a great trip on a super airplane, but I still remember the pilot didn't get the engine rpm quite balanced and there was a prop beat the whole way that drove me crazy. The trip was wonderful except one incident in Mexico City that someone 'picked' a bottle of Kaopectate out of my dads camera bag. We hoped he drank the whole bottle at one sitting. Hope I didn't just enter this twice. I probably rode back in one, but was too tired to remember it.....darn!
James Simms 1
Flew in a Southern Airways DC-3 (through a raging thunderstorm from HSV's "old" airport to LIT to visit relatives.

My Father served in China w/the Navy during WW2 & flew over '"The Hump" in one. Upon arriving in Kumming, the pilot (a temporarily demoted Flying Tiger pilot for wasting avgas doing victory rolls) stood the C-47 on one wing flying down the length of the tunways & did the same w/the other wing while checking for bomb damage.

Had an opportunity to go inside a restored American Airlines DC-3 @ their museum @ their center outside of DFW Airport. When I win the mega gazzilion lottery, I'm going to get one as my personal aircraft.
I worked on the Dewline for Federal Electric from 1959 to 1961. The DC-3 was the workhorse along with the DC4 and the Otter. I remember boarding a Wien Alaska DC-3 from Fairbanks, I think is was in March, it was 30 below zero. Cargo was strapped down the aisle and 6 or 8 seats along the right side, all full, we even had a pretty stewardess. Everyone in Parkas and bunny boots, guys returning to the Dewline, It was not pressurized and I remember going over the Brooks Mountains was a rather breathless experience. We arrived in Pt Barrow in what seemed like a howling blizzard, then proceeded to Barter Island where I was headed. Inside the plane it never got above freezing, very noisy, but we were quite comfortable. Had great confidence in our pilots and the plane itself. A truly cherished experience. CK
My first hop in the DC-3 was aboard a rough Trans Texas Airways bird, BMT-HOU in 1964. My airfare was for that and subsequent flights along this local route up to DAL and ovet to NWO was 'covered' by making myself useful as a TTA hanger gopher. As long as I could expect to hop a return bird that got me back to BMT, no problemo! I went on to crew C-117s, transitioning to C-130s during my 20+ yrs in the Marine Corps. Semper Fi!
Tom Johnson 0
My first flight on any aircraft was in November, 1956 on a Lake Central Airlines DC-3 from Lafayette, IN (KLAF) off a 3,900-foot grass runway (strong crosswinds on the paved runway) at night. The only lights were green threshold lights at each end of the sod strip. Primitive by today's standards! But upon arrival at Chicago Midway (KMDW) the smell of the future was already in the air from the turbine exhaust of Vickers Viscounts of Capital Airlines!
The ‘Three’ has always been my favorite jump ship. Riding her to altitude was always an experience to remember. She is such a piece of art. The rivets are amazing, and I used to marvel at the cockpit. It reminded me in an odd way of the submarine in Jules Verne 20,000 leagues under the sea. I think I also like it because she is a taildragger, an odd duck these days, like the Pilatus Porter and the Helio Stallion. The latter are turbos, while the ‘Three’ has radials. Hearing those radials fire up early in the morning made everyone run for their parachute rigs.
B Trott 0
I was working in the Canadian Arctic. We landed on the ice on a lake - in a DC-3 on skis.
captleo 0
I flew DC-3 in Haiti 3 flights a day and the only problem was my captain overloading the plane and blowing cylinders because of over busting the engine, otherwise every thing was A OK, i really missed those flights. captleo.
captleo 1
The other cargo plane that is as good as the DC-3 is the Convair 440, i flew N416.. for 14 years as a load master, A&P mechanic and copilot, we went into some many storm at night without radar that i can tell you those wings will never break.
David Carr 0
I made several scheduled flights as a passenger in the late 50s and early 60s. A very nice entry in my memory bank
Wayne Schuman 0
Memories of flying on a DC3 between Churchill MB and Flin Flon MB, and losing an engine.....but we made it safe and sound! Great aircraft!

[This poster has been suspended.]

captleo -1
Buddy Howard 1
Come on, no need to scream at Jerry about a simple typo.

[This poster has been suspended.]

john doe 1
lol! Good stuff.
joel wiley 1
Well this is a testament to the FA spam filter. Haven't seen anything to report in a looong time.
steve jenney 0
oh the memories...Northeast Airlines EWB/LGA every Friday and Monday..oh those SMOKING ENGINE STARTS


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