View Full Version : Pictures of my old DC-3.

26th Dec 2007, 21:05
I finally got one of those film scanners that allows me to transfer slides onto my computer. Here are some pictures of the DC-3 I use to fly. It was the lowest time DC-3 in the world when we got the aircraft. I got the DC-3 in 1981, it had less than 3,000 hours total time. It had been purchased by the Wrigley family (of the chewing gum fame) and had been based on Catalina Island most of its life. The aircraft was built in the Douglas Plant as a C-47 in 1944 at Oklahoma City which is now Tinker AFB. Sorry, but I cannot find the serial number, I have it in storage somewhere, but where I don't have a clue.

The last I heard the DC-3 was in Europe flying tourists either in Sweden or Norway. Perhaps some one here knows the fate of this fine old lady?
Anyway, here are a exterior and an interior pictures.



A couple of more interior shots.

Front to back of cabin.


Wrigley Family headrest cover.


We had the aircraft for about three years and I flew it a little over 300 hours.

Liffy 1M
26th Dec 2007, 21:50
What was the registration? That would make it easy to trace.

26th Dec 2007, 22:10
Plush cabin, unlike most of the working DC3s/C47s. One of the very few aircraft types I enjoyed working on.

26th Dec 2007, 22:27
Steve, believe it or not that was the original interior installed in 1947 (the year I was born), only the cabin carpet had been changed.

Liffy, I wish I could remember the registration number, unfortunately my logbooks were stolen by a ex-employee, I can't prove she stole my logbooks, however, the coincidence is just too strong. So I still have to dig out the old records. I am hoping that the fact that it is the lowest total time DC-3 still flying will ring a bell in someone's mind.

(If it is still flying that is. :()

27th Dec 2007, 09:29
Still searching, but this could be a likely candidate, SE-CFP c/n 13883?
http://www.airliners.net/open.file?id=1274647&WxsIERv=Qbhtynf%20P-47N%20Fxlgenva%20%28QP-3N-456%29&Wm=0&WdsYXMg=Fpnaqvanivna%20Nveyvarf%20Flfgrz%20-%20FNF%20%28Syltnaqr%20Irgrenare%29&QtODMg=Fgbpxubyz%20-%20Neynaqn%20%28NEA%20%2F%20RFFN%29&ERDLTkt=Fjrqra&ktODMp=Frcgrzore%2022%2C%202007&BP=1&WNEb25u=Znegva%20Qwhcrafgebz&xsIERvdWdsY=FR-PSC&MgTUQtODMgKE=%22Qnvfl%22%20vf%20ba%20fubeg%20svany%20sbe%20e hajnl%2026%20nsgre%20n%20fvtugfrrvat%20syvtug%20sebz%20Oebzz n&YXMgTUQtODMgKERD=1452&NEb25uZWxs=2007-09-25%2021%3A38%3A05&ODJ9dvCE=&O89Dcjdg=13883&static=yes&width=1200&height=812&sok=JURER%20%20%28ZNGPU%20%28nvepensg%2Cnveyvar%2Ccynpr%2Ccu bgb_qngr%2Cpbhagel%2Cerznex%2Ccubgbtencure%2Crznvy%2Clrne%2C ert%2Cnvepensg_trarevp%2Cpa%2Cpbqr%29%20NTNVAFG%20%28%27%2B% 22FR-PSC%22%27%20VA%20OBBYRNA%20ZBQR%29%29%20%20BEQRE%20OL%20cubg b_vq%20QRFP&photo_nr=6&prev_id=1276709&next_id=1273639

27th Dec 2007, 10:06
SE-CFP seems to have spent much of its life registered in Scandinavia as well as the Air Force, Newforest.
There's not a lot of web information on the Wrigley family aircraft, other than she was sold in 1985 with 3200 hrs after over 30 years with them and again up for sale in 2004. I've pasted this from Propliners ( http://www.propliners.com/ ):

Just saw over at ****** (I removed the commercial link) that as of this past June (2004) P.K. Wrigley's beautiful DC-3 went on the sale block. I was aboard this aircraft back in the '70's where it was hangared on Catalina Island. Only about 34 hundred hours on it since modified from a C-47 to a DC-3. Probably the best kept DC-3 in the world. Oh, for those of you too young to know, Mr. Wrigley was the man who made chewing gum popular.

There was no valid link to the aircraft unfortunately so we're still no wiser as to the registration.

28th Dec 2007, 21:31
Just saw over at ****** (I removed the commercial link) that as of this past June (2004) P.K. Wrigley's beautiful DC-3 went on the sale block. I was aboard this aircraft back in the '70's where it was hangared on Catalina Island. Only about 34 hundred hours on it since modified from a C-47 to a DC-3. Probably the best kept DC-3 in the world. Oh, for those of you too young to know, Mr. Wrigley was the man who made chewing gum popular.

That is her Steve, would you please PM me the link. I would greatly appreciate it, thank you.

On the maintenance side, according to the aircraft log books the engines were changed every 500 hours. Also, on a couple of occasions we borrowed a DC-3 from another owner and had some paired flights, not what you would call formation flights, and our DC-3 would run off and leave the other one with both aircraft at the same power settings.

By the way, the primary flight instruments were Collins FD-102 flight directors.

Now a funny story about one of my first training flights in the aircraft. When the instrument panel was modified the flap position indicator was relocated to where it was vertical on the left side of the cockpit by the pilot's left leg. Now the interesting thing was that when the flaps were retracted the pointer was at the bottom of the indicator (down) and when the flaps were full down the pointer was at the top of the indicator (up).

Being the dutiful trainee pilot I performed a pre-exterior cockpit check, which required lower the flaps to full down for a visual inspection. After I completed the exterior pre-flight I met the IP in the cockpit and we started the pre-start checklist. When he read off "Flap handle neutral" I looked at the flap indicator, saw the pointer at the top (up, which really meant full down) and replied "Flaps up".

I think you all can figured out the rest. We taxied, lined up on the runway, I applied takeoff power and the tail came up immediately. I had to really pull hard to get airborne, added a bunch of up trim and we slowly climbed out. Very slowly climbed out. We were not climbing very fast, the airspeed was around 90 some knots and the cylinder head temps were going up rapidly. I only flown the DC-3 a couple of times earlier, but knew this could not be correct.

I kept looking around trying to figure out what the hell was wrong. Looked at the flap positron indicator and it hit me. Oh My God! The flaps were full down. I reached over, grabbed the flap handle and pulled it up. That old DC-3 jumped like I had fired off JATO bottles. The airspeed shot up, rate of climb doubled and the temps went way down.

The IP looked at me and said, "Well, we seemed to have learned something here haven't we."

Never made that mistake again. :ooh:

(Thank God we didn't lose an engine. :uhoh:)

Hotel Tango
28th Dec 2007, 22:44
I believe it's N64784 c/n 25482. Last reported and photographed at Bakersfield CA in August 2001. She was also photographed in Sion, Switzerland in 1989 and Amsterdam in 1990. Paint scheme matches that above.

P.S. Took nearly an hour's research to find her i/d. You owe me a beer Con-pilot ;)

29th Dec 2007, 00:15
You owe me a beer Con-pilot

What brand and how many? :ok:

That's her. :D:D:D

29th Dec 2007, 07:19
Here is a photo and registration details.
http://www.airliners.net/open.file?id=0835946&WxsIERv=Qbhtynf%20QP-3P-F1P3T&Wm=0&WdsYXMg=Hagvgyrq&QtODMg=Fvba%20%28-%20Fvggra%29%20%28FVE%20%2F%20YFTF%20%2F%20YFZF%29&ERDLTkt=Fjvgmreynaq&ktODMp=Frcgrzore%205%2C%201989&BP=1&WNEb25u=Wbbc%20qr%20Tebbg%20-%20PEZNC&xsIERvdWdsY=A64784&MgTUQtODMgKE=&YXMgTUQtODMgKERD=908&NEb25uZWxs=2005-05-11%2018%3A35%3A46&ODJ9dvCE=&O89Dcjdg=25482&static=yes&width=1024&height=691&sok=JURER%20%20%28nvepensg_trarevp%20%3D%20%27Qbhtynf%20QP-3%20%28P-47%2F53%2F117%2FE4Q%2FFxlgenva%2FQnxbgn%29%27%20BE%20nvepens g_trarevp%20%3D%20%27Onfyre%20OG-67%20Gheob-67%27%20BE%20nvepensg_trarevp%20%3D%20%27NZV%20QP-3-65GC%20Gheob%27%29%20NAQ%20%28ZNGPU%20%28nvepensg%2Cnveyvar% 2Ccynpr%2Ccubgb_qngr%2Cpbhagel%2Cerznex%2Ccubgbtencure%2Crzn vy%2Clrne%2Cert%2Cnvepensg_trarevp%2Cpa%2Cpbqr%29%20NTNVAFG% 20%28%27%2B%22A64784%22%27%20VA%20OBBYRNA%20ZBQR%29%29%20%20 BEQRE%20OL%20cubgb_vq%20QRFP&photo_nr=1&prev_id=&next_id=0825233&size=L

29th Dec 2007, 07:50

Having been located on Catalina Island for much of its life wasn't corrosion a problem or wasn't it ever allowed on what was a much cared for aircraft?

29th Dec 2007, 08:50
Engines changed after 500 hours! That's hardly enough time to develop proper oil leaks. :)
Normal R1830 TBO is 1200 hours if I remember correctly (one hour per horsepower).

29th Dec 2007, 19:22
Having been located on Catalina Island for much of its life wasn't corrosion a problem or wasn't it ever allowed on what was a much cared for aircraft?

While we owned the aircraft we had to do a major wing spar modification that required that the wings be removed from the aircraft; which is a long story in itself. Seeing as how the aircraft was to be taken apart so much I had the company doing the mod to perform a intensive corrosion inspection on the airframe. They found shockingly little corrosion, just some small areas on the fuel tanks that were treated and repainted.

There was no doubt that the aircraft was very well maintained while the Wrigley's and ourselves owned the aircraft. We did not operate the aircraft that much, around 300 hours in a little over 3 years, but I made sure the engines were ran every week and we flew it once a month, if just around the pattern.

Sadly it appears that the aircraft is not is such good shape today from some pictures I found on her in Bakersfield, California. I'm off line right now, when I get back on the internet I'll post the link.

Oh, one other point, in my experience corrosion is not the problem in Southern California as it is in Florida and the Gulf Coast. Why, I don't have a clue.

29th Dec 2007, 19:29
Okay, back up now.

Thanks to Hotel Tango here is a link to the latest picture of her.

http://www.airliners.net/open.file?id=0186829&WxsIERv=Qbhtynf%20QP-3P-F1P3T&Wm=0&WdsYXMg=Hagvgyrq&QtODMg=Onxrefsvryq%20-%20Zrnqbjf%20Svryq%20%28OSY%20%2F%20XOSY%29&ERDLTkt=HFN%20-%20Pnyvsbeavn&ktODMp=Nhthfg%2019%2C%202001&BP=0&WNEb25u=Cnhy%20Fpuboret&xsIERvdWdsY=A64784&MgTUQtODMgKE=Abguvat%20dhvgr%20yvxr%20n%20QP-3%21&YXMgTUQtODMgKERD=682&NEb25uZWxs=2001-09-04%2000%3A00%3A00&ODJ9dvCE=&O89Dcjdg=&static=yes&width=1024&height=780&sok=JURER%20%20%28ert%20%3D%20%27A64784%27%29%20%20BEQRE%20O L%20cubgb_vq%20QRFP&photo_nr=3&prev_id=0825233&next_id=NEXTID

I would have never let her get into such a sad condition. Oil stains everywhere, flaps filithy and look at the oil stains on the oil cooler inlets, shame really. :(

30th Dec 2007, 13:42
this one wear DRC registration and still in flying condition/based in Sweden.
it's in perfect condition,privately owned, this ship flew also in Africa for some times.:ok:

30th Dec 2007, 14:02
That would be Air Kasai/Transporte Aerien Zairoise, based at N'dolo near Kinshasa. I worked for them in 93-94, there were about five C47s and a pair of An2s.

30th Dec 2007, 18:08
Now that is a fine looking aircraft mupepe. :ok:

30th Dec 2007, 18:34
Here's the history of 25482 written up in the 1980s.

Built for USAF in July 1944 as 43-48221, also spent a very short time as KG805 for the RAF. Sold at end of 1945, to Wrigley as NC67484 April 1946, lasted there for 32 years. To Naval Air Museum Pensacola 1978 (doesn't seem to accord with above records), then to Galaxy Aviation, Oklahoma in 1980.

30th Dec 2007, 19:43
then to Galaxy Aviation, Oklahoma in 1980.

That would have been me. I really didn't know about the RAF bit. I was under the impression that it was USAAF-Wrigley-NAS Pensacola-us then off to Switzerland.

When the Senior Mr. Wrigley died he left the DC-3 to the Naval Air Museum at Pensacola, the Navy did not want the aircraft and placed it for sale and we bought the DC-3 from a aircraft broker.

31st Dec 2007, 01:09
The old lady would be still under factory warranty.

31st Dec 2007, 01:41
Great airplane connie. Lotta love went into that one by the looks of it. That one has the toothpick props, which made 'em a little faster than the ones with the paddle blades. We had one, CF-ORD, that we bought from an automobile manufacturer that shall remain nameless. It had both the toothpick props and the 1830-94 engines. Same 1200 hp max power but you could run them at a higher cruise power setting. We used to file 150 kt if I remember right, as opposed to 140 with our standard DC-3's. That engine/prop combination along with a rudder servo tab allowed you to use 26,900 lb MTOW in the passenger config, same as the freighter version of our standard DC-3's.

Just as a footnote, our standard DC-3's were equipped with 1830-92S engines. These were -92's with -94 cylinders. The only external difference on the airplane was the cowl flaps didn't go all the way around the circumference of the cowling, only the lower half. We used two of our DC-3's on skis in the winter, did a couple of hundred hours each with 'em. In the summer, we swapped the engines with the two PBY's we operated when the '3's were not being used.

31st Dec 2007, 02:46
These were -92's with -94 cylinders. The only external difference on the airplane was the cowl flaps didn't go all the way around the circumference of the cowling, only the lower half.

Had the same arrangment on my DC-3. I was told it was the 'speed cowling kit'. Now how funny is that! As it was proven on the turboprop DC-3s, it only goes so fast and that is it. :p

The reason my old DC-3 was faster than other DC-3s I flew was, I believe, because of no de-ice boots and the fact it was so low time.

31st Dec 2007, 02:51
The old lady would be still under factory warranty.

Okay Stationair8 I will tell the story of the wing mod tomorrow US time. :ok:

It is a great aviation story in regards to the fact that all of us love old aircraft.

27th May 2014, 17:09
I came across this picture and noticed the Wrigley emblem outside the cockpit, think this is the same plane you have been discussing. Wonder who the pilot is? Does anyone have any idea?

Spooky 2
28th May 2014, 09:54
Maybe Con Pilot reaclls a DC3 that based at the north end of the VNY airport in the 60's. It was rumored to have been the Hilton family airplane earlier in its corporate life. Don't know much about the DC3 but this one appeared to have all the mods possible including gear doors, one piece windshield and a very nice corporate interior. Always wondered what happened to it? The guy who flew it was :mad:

28th May 2014, 10:52
The DC3 was used a lot as a corporate aircraft and there legacy, I read somewhere, is that Gulfstream used the DC3 cabin cross-section as a template for the Gulfstream I.

28th May 2014, 15:06
There is still a DC-3 operating daily into Catalina from Long Beach, flying freight. It is owned and operated by Catalina Flying Boats who also used Grummans into the harbor at Avalon.
I was in Avalon in Dec. last year and the DC-3 buzzed the town on its way up to the airport one monday morning.
I also saw it do a very abbreviated downwind/base/final into Long Beach last Sept., a very sporty looking approach.

28th May 2014, 16:01

In regular service from REK (Reykjavik) airport doing tourist flight. Saw it flying in July last year. I believe this is a C-47 (for the purists).

28th May 2014, 16:08
Latest on my old DC-3.

It was sold to Cleveland/detroit Flying Services Llc, Chicago, IL, in Janurary of this year.

By chance does anyone know anything about these people? Can't find a thing about them on the internet.

28th May 2014, 16:32
Capetonian: Lovely pic of TF-NPK. I wasn't aware that there was one active in Iceland. I haven't been able to find any info on the web - do you have any idea who runs these tourist flights?

28th May 2014, 16:42
No, but I'll find out for you through my contact at Icelandair. That photo was taken from the window of her flat when we were there last July, hence the rather poor quality as it was on maximum zoom.

28th May 2014, 17:12
Just got this back from my 'dottir' friend!
It is an association that operates it. They have a website www.dc3.is (http://www.dc3.is) which has limited information in English.

They are also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/DC-3-%C3%9Eristavinir-Iceland/297145653661538

John Hill
28th May 2014, 20:59

ZK-AMY, flying earlier this year but now in the hangar and may be forever.:(

31st May 2014, 00:37
Just as an aside: Does any remember an absolutely mint Dak that used to fly into Les Cedres, Quebec weekly in the late 70s/early 80s? I think it belonged to a tyre company, Goodyear maybe?

After an excellent landing etc...

31st May 2014, 14:45
Does any remember an absolutely mint Dak that used to fly into Les Cedres, Quebec weekly in the late 70s/early 80s? I think it belonged to a tyre company, Goodyear maybe?

I remember that aircraft in CYQM in the '70s undergoing an engine change. It's now sitting on display at the Canadian Aviation and Space museum in Ottawa.

Canada Aviation and Space Museum - CASM Home Page (http://casmuseum.techno-science.ca/en/index.php)

31st May 2014, 18:54
I came across this picture and noticed the Wrigley emblem outside the cockpit, think this is the same plane you have been discussing. Wonder who the pilot is? Does anyone have any idea?

If you are referring to my old DC-3, I'd say yes it is the one I flew. One clue of course is the Wrigley emblem on the nose and the other clue is that it appears that the photo was taken at the Santa Catalina airport.

At that time, the Wrigley family owned the Santa Catalina Island and the DC-3 was there quite a bit. In fact when the Wrigley family bought a newer and faster aircraft, a Howard 350, I think, the DC-3 was based on the Santa Catalina airport to ferry people from LAX to the island, as the new aircraft could not use the Santa Catalina airport because the runway was too short.

There is only one hangar on the Santa Catalina airport and it was built for the DC-3, so I was told.

The original log book for the DC-3 was like reading a 'Who's who' of the late 40's to the early 60's when they filled the original log book, which was the size of telephone book compared to the newer style. It had the passengers' names in the log book for most flights, people like Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne and more movie stars than I can remember. Plus many then famous baseball players, mostly the Chicago Cubs baseball team, which the Wrigley family owned.

One more note of interest, from reading the log books, they changed engines every 500 hours, replacing them with overhauled engines. I was always curious about that.

Last I heard, the Wrigley family now has a Falcon 50.

1st Jun 2014, 08:22
http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m19/ancientaviator62/Misc_0000050A_zpsa893bbe0.jpg (http://s100.photobucket.com/user/ancientaviator62/media/Misc_0000050A_zpsa893bbe0.jpg.html)

I took this pic at Fiji in 1970 (I was on 48 Sqn at Changi at the time) to show that the old and the new can have similar problems. Sorry it is not a better pic of the DC3 but it may awaken memories in someone on this fascinating thread.

9th Jun 2014, 18:33
You are an incredible wealth of knowledge. Out of curiosity, do you have copies of the log books?

21st Jun 2014, 07:17
The wrigly Dc-3 is based at bakersfield meadows field(KBFL).

India Four Two
21st Jun 2014, 09:00

Is that an amphibian's float in the foreground of your Fiji picture?

3rd Aug 2014, 03:29
Hey all Kbfl79 here
Well the Old girl IS FLYING!!!!
tonight i shot some pics and video.
She sounded very good.

just wanted to update everyone.
I do believe she's been sold
over the last few mounths she's had her engines rebuilt or serviced. they were off the aircraft for a month or more.
sorry my camera's a little old. the pics are only soso quality.

enjoy. and it was a SIGHT!!!N64784 FLYING after all this time!!!

http://thumbnails112.imagebam.com/34273/22afce342723549.jpg (http://www.imagebam.com/image/22afce342723549) http://thumbnails109.imagebam.com/34273/cb48b3342723555.jpg (http://www.imagebam.com/image/cb48b3342723555) http://thumbnails110.imagebam.com/34273/937580342723560.jpg (http://www.imagebam.com/image/937580342723560) http://thumbnails110.imagebam.com/34273/200fcf342723576.jpg (http://www.imagebam.com/image/200fcf342723576) http://thumbnails110.imagebam.com/34273/6c7e09342723584.jpg (http://www.imagebam.com/image/6c7e09342723584) http://thumbnails109.imagebam.com/34273/882d9c342723587.jpg (http://www.imagebam.com/image/882d9c342723587) http://thumbnails109.imagebam.com/34273/d177e3342723591.jpg (http://www.imagebam.com/image/d177e3342723591) http://thumbnails110.imagebam.com/34273/4cd571342723593.jpg (http://www.imagebam.com/image/4cd571342723593)

3rd Aug 2014, 16:51
That is really great news!

Thank you so much. Just for the hell of it, here is the story about how I got "my" DC-3, from the book I'm writing.

Me and me DC-3.

Course it was not technically my DC-3, as the boss paid for it, but it ended up being my baby.
Admittedly a 30,000 pound, oil leaking noisy and sometimes cantankerous baby, but still my baby.

Now how we attained this DC-3 that we had absolutely no use for, is I will admit mostly all my fault. At the time we were operating a Westwind II*, a Bell 222 helicopter** and a Jet Commander. The Jet Commander was the first aircraft the boss bought, along with myself and my partner in crime Roy*** at the time. When we bought the new Westwind II we kept the Jet Commander as a backup for the Westwind II. So really we had a nice, happy, smooth running flight department. My buddy Roy, a couple other pilots, one being a somewhat famous helicopter pilot, a full time mechanic and myself. All the boss’s needs were completely taken care of as far as his travels in North America, Latin America, Caribbean and some of South America were concerned. As for Europe, he took the airlines, not wanting to spend the money to buy a G-II or III.

So what the hell did we need a DC-3 for? Well we didn’t. But then one day I drove by one of the other airports in the area. Sitting on the ramp of an aircraft sales company, whose salesmen I knew, was one of the best looking DC-3s I had ever seen, so I drove out on the ramp to look at it. As the C-47 was one of the aircraft my father flew in the Air Force, I’d always wanted to fly one. But me flying a DC-3 was somewhat problematic, due to my height and bad leg. For me to fly a DC-3 the cockpit, the left seat area, would have to be modified. The bulkhead behind the pilot’s seat would have to be removed and the de-icing alcohol tank relocated, then new longer seat tracks would have to be manufactured and installed, allowing the seat to be able to be moved back to accommodate my long legs. So for all that to be done, I’d have to be in charge of a DC-3 and be allowed to do the modification, or own one. Not a chance in hell I figured.

As I’m walking around this good looking DC-3, one of the salesmen I knew came out and told me that I needed to tell my boss that he should buy it. I laughed and told him that we needed an additional aircraft, especially something like a DC-3, like I needed another hole in my head, I had enough holes in it already.

But then he told me the history of this particular DC-3. For one, it was the lowest time DC-3, still flying, in the world, less than 3,000 hours total time. Well that got my attention, then he told me who owned it for most of its life since it stopped being a C-47; the Wrigley family. In fact, the original interior was still installed, except for the carpet which had been replaced a few times. Both engines were fresh overhauled engines and the cockpit had Flight Directors. Collins FD-102 Flight Directors, but hey they were Flight Directors. Little did I know then just how much grief those bloody FD-102 Flight Directors would cause me later. The only two negative things I could find was no auto-pilot, which was not that big of a deal and the transponder was just a two digit antique one with blind altitude reporting, whatever in the hell that was and ATC just loved it, not.

So after that conversation I happened to be in the boss’s office a few days later talking about his upcoming schedule. After we finished he inquired if I had anything else I wished to discuss with him and like a damn fool, I opened my mouth and told him about this rare DC-3. I did so thinking that a friend of his, that bought things he didn’t need either, might be interested in this DC-3. The boss said that he didn’t know about his friend, but he was interested, wanted to go look at it and to set a time with his secretary. Oops.

Well that oops turned into an ‘Aw shit’. I made an appointment for him to go out and look at the DC-3, the salesman had a crew set up to take him on a demo flight. The boss showed up on time, then I knew I was in trouble, he had never been on time for the seven years I had flown him, this was not foreboding well for me. So we taxi out and takeoff, after we level off, he is like a kid in a toy factory. He sits in every seat in the cabin, the salesman and I are playing musical chairs trying to keep out of his way. He uses the lav, ducks into the baggage compartment, then he heads up to the cockpit. The guy flying in the right seat comes back and tells the salesman that he thinks that the DC-3 is sold, unless they crash it heading home.

‘Sold!’, hold on a minute, we don’t need a friggin’ DC-3, I had my hands full as it was. So I head to the cockpit as fast as I can. I have got to nip this in the bud. You ever try to stop the sun from raising, then you may know what I was up against. The boss is in the right seat, flying the friggin’ DC-3, with a Cheshire cat’s grin on his face. So I ask him what he thinks, a mistake.

“We really need this airplane!” ‘No we don’t’ I think, but say, “Really, like it that much?”

“Hell yes!” Which at that point he cranks it over into a 40 degree bank and his smile gets bigger. The guy in the left seat, a good friend**** who would later freelance for us on the DC-3, discretely added some back pressure on the column to keep us spiraling out of control to our deaths, then gives me this ‘you’re screwed’ grin.

I try one more gambit, “Well I can’t fly a DC-3 because the cockpit is too short for my legs.” The smile on his face goes away, he looks at me and says, “Fix it so you can.”, I sincerely hope that he means the cockpit and not my legs, then he goes back to flying the DC-3, smile firmly back in place. Okay, forearmed is forewarned is what they always say, someday I’d really like to know just who the hell ‘they’ are. I pat the boss on the shoulder and say, “Well, have fun.” and he just grins more.

I head back into the cabin to talk to the salesman. If the boss is so dead set to buy this thing, the least I can do is get the price down. I asked what they would really take for the DC-3, not what they were asking, as it was a ridiculously high price, over $100,000.00, which was about double for other DC-3 were going for, I had done my homework, just in case. Before he could reply, the boss comes bounding down the aisle, sits next to the salesman and asks how much did they want. Before I could interject, the salesman, smelling blood, said 125,000.00 dollars. I open my mouth to yell “Jesus Christ, that's too bloody much!”. But before I can, the boss says “Okay.” Then he turns to me, pausing in an attempt to figure out why my mouth is open and I’m turning pale, he tells me to call the CFO and coordinate the transfer of the money. Then he hops up and goes back to the cockpit to fly the DC-3 some more.

After I have a few choice words with the salesman, some of which I questioned the marital status of his parents when he was born, I force him into throwing in the two spare overhauled engines and some other spare parts that he was going to sell us for more money. I found out later through the grape line, that even with the two spare engines and the other parts they cleared over 50K on the deal. Then we fly around for about another hour with the boss flying, including buzzing one of the ranches he owned, before we landed, with him still in the co-pilot’s seat, with the co-pilot standing behind them.

When we get off the aircraft after we land, the boss takes one last look at the DC-3, then tells me to have it moved to our hangar at the other airport as soon as I can and to learn how to fly it. A few days later after the money is transferred I am standing on the ramp in front of our hangar when “our” new DC-3 lands, with Roy flying it. After about the third bounce, he gets it under control, turns off the runway and taxies to the hangar and I remember thinking, ‘Damn, it is a good looking aircraft’. I was starting to fall in love with my new baby that I couldn’t fly.

Right then, learning to fly the blasted thing. First step, modify the cockpit so I can fit into the left seat. Can’t be all that difficult can it? Well yes it can, when you don’t have clue what you are doing. But wait, my partner Roy was an Aeronautical Engineer and I had a full time mechanic. So they can handle this modification, right? You’d think, but nobody seemed all that interested in making the modification except me, the chief pilot. I started dropping little hints to my mechanic, like "Fix that damn thing so I can fly it.” or "If you have not started modifying the cockpit by the end of this week, where will you be working next monday so I can forward your mail?", you know, subtle little things like that. Which of course were ignored. Roy was no help, he kept saying he needed to draw up diagrams, do a bunch of research and other nonsense, but was too busy watching his new grass grow in his back yard.

Okay fine, I’ll just do it myself, I know how to use a hacksaw and a hammer, even really big hammers. I had somehow inherited a toolbox that had a hacksaw, some screwdrivers and a couple of hammers, one really big hammer, also some other tools that I had no clue what they were for, one was called a ratchet, whatever the hell that was. I grabbed the two hammers, the hacksaw and a couple of screwdrivers. Thusly armed I headed out toward the DC-3. While walking out to the DC-3 I accidentally walked by Roy and my mechanic, Terry, on my way out the open hangar doors heading to the DC-3. I figured it would be about 45 seconds before they would follow me to see what I was up to, as they knew that tools and I were not a very good a very mix. I made it almost to the cockpit before I heard the pitter patter of large feet running up the aisle of the cabin.

“Hey guys, what’s up?’ I inquired. Roy replied, “Huh, what are you doing?” “Not much” I replied back, told him I was just going to use the hacksaw to cut off the straps holding the alcohol tank mounted on the bulkhead behind the left seat and use the really big hammer to beat the bits I couldn’t cut off into submission, so I could remove those as well. As for the screwdrivers, well I really didn’t have a real use for them right then, but I figured that I’d run across something that I could use them on.

They told me to remain calm, not to make any sudden movements and for some inexplicable reason took my tools from me. Then they told me to go back to my office and do some of that chief pilot stuff, as they would start the modification right away. I agreed, telling them that I would check the cockpit the next morning and if I didn’t see a lot of progress, I’d get one of them blow torch thingies and start over.

One week later the modification was completed and I had all the leg room I needed, then some.

Next installment will be learning how to fly the DC-3. Or how the scare the crap out of an American Airline's 727 crew in one easy lesson.

* The trip to Israel to pick up our new Westwind II is a story in itself.

** The Bell 222 had a rotor hub failure, crashed killing everyone on board, obviously including the pilot, Barry Meeker, look him up on the internet. The TT on it was 117.1 hours since new from the Bell factory. Telling his wife was a tough one. Bell paid big time, as it was a part failure that caused the rotor system failure. Our new 222 was built with a part that Bell was already replacing on delivered 222s; swash plate link.

*** My old partner Roy, quit and became a Baptist missionary in Borneo. Was married and had two very young children. He quit that before a year was up because of his two young children, just like I told him he would. But he had grown tired of the corporate world and decided to go to work for an east coast commuter airline, Bar Harbor Airlines, flying Beech 99s. He was killed on August 25, 1985 while he was shooting an approach to the Lewiston-Auburn Regional Airport. Look up Samantha Reed Smith on the internet. He was a damn good pilot and how that happened to him has always remained a mystery to me. It also highly annoyed me that the NTSB never contacted me or the company after the accident, after all we had flown together for over ten years.

**** His name was Tommy Brogdon and he was killed in a mid-air collision with another good friend, Lt. Col. Tony Stricker.

At times back in those day, life got tough in this business of flying aircraft for a living.

3rd Aug 2014, 20:02
brilliant Con . . . keep up the good work. .. . shades of the dear departed
Les, 'Duke Elegant'

you need to do a good proof read before you publish

you say -

as they knew that tools and I were not a very good a very mix

Okay, forearmed is forewarned is what they always say

the second is arse about and the first contains an obvious typo

if you want someone to check your final draft meticulously
let me know

p.s. I once owned a former Qantas DC-3. VH-EAP
Now in the Qantas Founders' Museum in Longreach, Queensland.

google VH-EAP Qantas Founders for a description

There is another ex-Qantas one for sale over here. $120 G AUS will
pull her up. Fly her away after an oil change and a good ground run.
She is in good nick and has a beautiful 28 seat cabin.
The owner, a friend, has asked me to try to find a buyer.

Here is her history and a bunch of photos -

. . . and whats more she has the cleanest neatest cabin you have ever been in

unlike any of the Wrigley kind . . . where under every seat there will inevitably be . .
you know what

4th Aug 2014, 16:52
you need to do a good proof read before you publish

Of that there is no question. This is still in the rough draft form, the final editing will be done later by a professional after I complete the book.

Before I started writing my book I had the great fortune to receive some advice from a well know author, action and adventure, who told me that when I start writing, to just write and not worry about spelling or anything in regards to grammar. Editing can always be done later.

So it is quite obvious that I have taken his advice.

Most of the book is about my years of flying for the US Marshal Service, which in all reality, has enough material to be a book by itself.

And thank you for your post and the photos.

8th Aug 2014, 14:49
Here you go Con, enjoy!!


1st Jan 2015, 06:09
I have been going through my Dad's WWII love letters to my Mom - scanning them. In a letter dated April 15, 1946, he states that he just finished working on Mr. Wrighley's son's C-47 that they just bought for $57,000. And that Mr. Wrighley's son was going to take the guys who worked on the plane out for a beer party when the test flight comes up. My Dad was working at Love Field after he was discharged from the Army Air Forces where he worked on B-17s and B-29s. Later in 1946, he moved to Ft Worth to work on the B-36. I have some photos of plane with my Dad and some other guys standing by the port side engine. I would like to see some photos of the plane as it is today. Unfortunately, my Dad passed away in 1975 at the young age of 52. Thanks, Gorman W. Prince, Jr.

1st Jan 2015, 14:45
I have scanned two of the photos I mentioned of my Dad standing by the Wrigley C-47 in June 1946. There are two or three more photos of other guys with the plane without my Dad in them - he might have taken the photos. I will have to go back and see if they show more of the plane but I don't think so. Since my Dad mentioned working on the Wrigley plane at the same time he took the photos of him working on a C-47 - I assume that this is the plane in question. I don't know if there were other C-47s at Love field that he would have been working on at the same time, but it is reasonable to say that the plane in the photos is the plane.


1st Jan 2015, 17:06

Try this.

1st Jan 2015, 17:41
I posted the photos to Facebook so that I might be able to upload them here. Again, these were taken in June 1946 at Love Field in Dallas. My Dad is the second from the left in one photo, and by himself on the other.

I believe this is the Wrigley C-47. The photos were taken at the same time that my Dad said that he was working on the airplane. Hard to say if there were other C-47s that he was working on at the same time at Love Field, but I doubt it.



1st Jan 2015, 18:23
In continuation of the other tips and links to con-pilot and his wonderfull story, this is indeed a wonderfull example of coincidenting on the web!

2nd Jan 2015, 17:46
Another flying lady:
Danish Dakota Friends (http://www.dc3vennerne.dk/english/english.htm)
And the pic's:
DC-3 Photos (http://www.dc3vennerne.dk/fotogalleri/album.htm)

2nd Jan 2015, 18:16
[qoute:] (con-pilot) One more note of interest, from reading the log books, they changed engines every 500 hours, replacing them with overhauled engines. I was always curious about that. [quote!]

Probably a question of faster maintance keeping her ready for use :-/
Even for car-maintenance, repairing or replacing is a regular dilemma and as for car-owners: the poor guy with the knowledge have to do the heavy repairs by himself, there must be a differece of repair perception among aircraft-owners - this decision is ofcourse influed by the skills of own mechanics :-/
In the end, the workshop wich sells overhaul's in change with the old, are the one that surely got the skills to the job!

2nd Jan 2015, 18:44
Probably a question of faster maintance keeping her ready for use :-/

I forgot to add that we kept the same schedule when we owned her and at 500 hours we'd replace the engines with overhauled engines and we kept one spare overhauled engine in the hangar just in case.

I was fortunate in the fact that I had a mechanic (engineer) that loved working on the DC-3 and he nearly stopped all of the typical oil leaks. There would be periods when it would not be scheduled to fly for over a month or so and when that happened I would fly it for about an hour. We also ran the engines once a week when it had not flown for a week and no trips were scheduled.

We kept very good care of her and I still miss flying her. There was just something special about flying a DC-3.

3rd Jan 2015, 08:16
gormanwpjr, Facebook links don't work properly, so I've uploaded your photographs elsewhere. Should work now:



3rd Jan 2015, 09:18
[qoute:] (con-pilot) One more note of interest, from reading the log books, they changed engines every 500 hours, replacing them with overhauled engines. I was always curious about that. [quote!]
I have just realised that there actual is a term for such job: QEC - as in: Quick Engine Change ;-)

4th Jan 2015, 10:04
This old Gal must be a candidate for Buffalo Airways soon..! it would enjoy another full life adventure up there.

3rd Feb 2015, 01:12
Hi con-pilot,

Read your story and love the DC3/C-47 aircraft. Your aircraft is being well taken care of at Aerometal International.

A quote from them...

"This summer has marked the start of what will be her nearly two year long transformation. She’ll receive a new interior, livery, control surfaces, avionics, etc. What an incredible honor this is for us–the feeling of bringing back another one of these beauties is hard to adequately describe."

Posted September 2014.

I'm a flight simmer myself and it's tops!

3rd Feb 2015, 19:07
Again thank you for that link TuFun. :ok:

We took very good care of the DC-3, but it looks like all those years sitting out in the open in California took its toll.

I'm very pleased that someone that cares owns it now.

4th Feb 2015, 04:51
Glad I could dig up that info! :) There some pic of her with fresh engines and nice shiny props dated July 2014. From what I've read she was sitting for 22 years.

23rd Oct 2018, 22:24
Hi con-pilot

Searching for some info re an RV-3, I remember seeing that DC-3 of yours, too many moons ago... not sure if, as most Americans, you confuse Switzerland with Sweden (which would be geographically speaking like mixing Texas with Oregon...), but this very craft was based in Lausanne, Switzerland for a couple of years. Searching the net I even found a trip report, in German language, recounting the flight form the US to ol' Europe, see https://spirit-of-flying.ch/atlantik-crossing-dc-3/

I'll try and have a look, gotta have a picture of that lady somewhere, but where :8

Tee Emm
24th Oct 2018, 01:36
and the cockpit had Flight Directors. Collins FD-102 Flight Directors, but hey they were Flight Directors. Little did I know then just how much grief those bloody FD-102 Flight Directors would cause me later

You were conned. DC3's don't need flight directors for goodness sake. Nor did HS 748's but that didn't stop a certain RAAF Wing Commander from being talked into buying the Collins FD 108 for a bunch of brand new HS 748's for the RAAF in 1966. It cost the RAAF a huge amount of time and money to integrate the Collins FD 108 with the Smiths autopilot system.

24th Oct 2018, 06:31
Sadly con-pilot isn't with us any more, he died in 2016 (https://www.pprune.org/jet-blast/577228-rip-con-pilot.html).

4th Mar 2019, 15:18
I am so sorry to read that.
His aircraft lives on.
I am not allowed to post the url, this is my first post,
but you should be taken straight to the film if you copy and paste


into your browser.

4th Mar 2019, 21:59
Thank you so much ncooper, here's the live link:

5th Mar 2019, 18:43
Great video. I'm sure something of Alec's (con pilot) spirit lives on in that aeroplane.
I had the pleasure of meeting him and his charming wife over drinks. I tried to arrange a flight for him to see the local sights but it was not to be.

Something I still regret.