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My Favorite DC-3 / C-47 Story

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My Favorite DC-3 / C-47 Story

Old 18th Feb 2008, 15:14
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My Favorite DC-3 / C-47 Story

I read this article about 30 years ago, but lost the magazine. It was in "Douglas Service," IIRC.

The young pilot was due for rotation after completing his tour flying the Hump. It was his last return flight to Burma, but there was no other pilot available, so he decided to fly it solo, he was so anxious to get home. Seeing on the manifest a load of cadavers, he was a bit put off, but not enough to cancel.

He had to walk past all the body bags to enter the cockpit. His preflight showed the breathing oxygen was depleted, but hey, he only had to go to 18,000+, so off he went into the darkness.

The hypoxia, and his guilt at going home a survivor, and not dead, combined in his mind with the cadavers moaning as they outgassed at altitude. His hallucinations of the cadavers coming into the cockpit to get him were overwhelming.

The ground crew in Burma had to pry his hands from the control wheel, the plane sitting on the runway after landing, engines running.

His return home was delayed by the six weeks inpatient psycho care.

He went on to a career flying for American Airlines.

Wish I could find a copy of that story.

GB
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Old 18th Feb 2008, 16:19
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Lends a whole new meaning to the phrase..."Dead Weight"
and the song..."Blowin' in the Wind"

I know...hat coat etc
watp,iktch
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Old 18th Feb 2008, 17:23
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Try to find a copy of DC-3 The Story Of The Dakota. - Carrol Glines & Wendell Mosely. First published in 1968 (sorry no ISBN No)

It's been a while since I read it, but I`m sure this story features in the book.
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Old 19th Feb 2008, 05:14
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BUIA/BIA night newspaper flts LGW to Germany in the 60s. Great way to spend a night shift & get duty frees as well.
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Old 19th Feb 2008, 05:47
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BUIA/BIA night newspaper flts LGW to Germany in the 60s

Used to do it in the BIA Handley Page Herald in the early 70s. I can still recall bitterly cold nights with the captain wrapping himself up in the cargo nets in the cabin for a snooze on the way back against the winds. There was a bit of creativity allowed for those flights and I used to wear my old man's roll neck diving sweaters + socks and then wear my flying boots on top of them. I remember the look on the flight planning official's face at Dusseldorf when he thought a U-boat officer had just walked in at 0400!

To prevent utter thread creep I can recall the BIA Dak chaps being even colder as it took them longer to get back!

FW
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Old 19th Feb 2008, 08:05
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I like the story about the Derby DC-3 that skidded on wet grass at Burnaston went across the A38 and stopped in the transport cafe car park. Apparently the passengers got out as normal some even went for a bacon sandwich
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Old 19th Feb 2008, 08:28
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My father flew them in Burma in WW2 doing supply drops to the ground troops. No parachutes, they just got about 1 ton of rice into a much larger bag with lots of slack, overflew the drop zone, several lads at the back booted it out of the open door. Apparently it slowly went out, then there was a golden moment when it picked up its own momentum and out it went, which the loadmaster, eyeballing the drop zone, had down to perfection. No safety harnesses down the back apparently. "Just don't fall out son." Then round for another one.

The bags didn't usually burst on impact unless they hit a tree. What if it did burst though ? Hey ho, it's rice, it's going to be boiled anyway.

I've wondered about the effects on trim as it came out, on one side, then suddenly fell away.

I heard about it plenty as a kid. I've often felt I could still fly from Rangoon to Mandalay without charts, just from memories of tales of "following the river".
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Old 19th Feb 2008, 19:36
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Small world WHBM. I had a very good friend who used to do the same thing as your dad in Burma during WW2. Don lied about his age and entered the RCAF at 17, so that made him about 19 at the time.

There is a wealth of stories about the DC-3 at DC-3.com, including this one. Imagine doing something like that nowadays.

I knew Joe McElrea, and the Otter Jack mentions was CF-MEL. I had my first Otter ride in it in 1959.

One of our (Northern Wings) DC-3's had a janitrol heater with a fresh air/recirc function which you selected according to the OAT. At the time - late 1960's - I was flying the 185 on skis, but if times were slack I flew as third crew on the '3. I was in the cockpit one winter day, with the heater selector in recirc, when the Captain let loose a blast that got sucked into the heater system. I peered through the little one way mirror in the cockpit door and could see passengers were twisting around and giving each other strange looks. I mentioned this to the co-pilot, who reached into the right hand map pocket and produced a roll of toilet paper. "Here," he said, "roll this down the aisle and the first passenger to grab it the others will think he shat himself."

Oh well, I guess you had to be there.
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Old 20th Feb 2008, 23:38
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Damn pigboat, that was one hell of a story! If you tried that to day the best thing that would happen to would be to be shot down, unless one is really into third world jails.

I loved the small amount of time I got in the DC-3, about 250 hours.

When we bought our DC-3 I made a deal with the boss that it would be a VMC use aircraft only. No IFR flying as the aircraft was equipped with Collins FD-102 (yes, FD-102) Flight Directors, which really didn't work very well. there was one vacuum powered gyro that was mounted right in front of the throttles. One Friday night we had a trip scheduled from Oklahoma City (OKC) to Dallas Love Field (DAL). The boss wanted to take some friends down to Dallas for dinner in the DC-3. As luck would have it it was very marginal VFR that night both in Dallas and Oklahoma City. If I remember correctly it was about a 1,000 feet overcast in OKC and around 2,000 feet overcast in Dallas and good visibility both places, with conditions to improve to clear later in the evening; tops were about 5,000 feet.

So what the heck I thought, we'll just climb on top, cruise down to Dallas, still be able to shoot a visual approach and it should be clear when we come back. I talked to the boss about it, he agreed (naturally, he wasn't a pilot and really wanted to use the DC-3), so we load up about 12 folks and off we went.

Well there was only one problem with my clever plan. I neglected to inform the DC-3 of these operational details. We roll down the runway, takeoff and I swear to God the second we enter the clouds my FD-102 fails, the number one comm fails a few seconds later and the right engine starts backfiring. We feather the right engine, declare an emergency, get radar vectors back around to the runway and land.

The boss takes his friends to dinner in Oklahoma City and we go to the bar. The next morning we go out to the airport to try to figure out what is wrong with the aircraft. We start the right engine, works fine, mag check fine, full power run fine. The FD-102 on the left side works fine, number one comm works fine. I say "Well this is El Toro Poo Poo let's go fly this sucker and see what happens." We takeoff, course the weather is clear now, and fly around for two hours, nada, nothing at all, everything works just fine.

We land and I call the boss, he asks what was wrong with the DC-3, I reply nothing now, everything works fine, couldn't find anything wrong. He pauses for a while and says well I guess she showed us, no more flying in clouds in her, next time we'll use the jet if there are clouds. I replied, "Yes Sir, I agree."

And people say aircraft are just machines with no personality. HA!
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Old 21st Feb 2008, 04:05
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Yeah connie that was a great story, wasn't it? Joe McElrea once won a DC-3 in a poker game. He had it on long-term lease to Northern Wings and when he left the lease was terminated and he took it with him.

Years ago Pacific Western used the DC-3 on some of their scheds on the West Coast on Vancouver Island. The co-pilots were mostly old bushwackers off the singles who'd been there, done that and had the t-shirts. One day between Vancouver and Campbell River, the flight ran into some hefty ice on the let down. To add to the fun they lost an engine. The only approach in Campbell River was an ADF. They missed, and there was no question about going elsewhere because of the ice. On the missed approach, their good engine coughed a few times and the FSS operator asked them if they were aware their engine was backfiring. The copilot, one of the bushwackers, nonchalantly informed the FSS guy that "A farting horse is a working horse." They flew the airplane down to the ground on the second approach, and landed about halfway down the runway. Just before they went off the end the Captain deliberately groundlooped to avoid running into a ditch, and wiped the gear off the airplane. By the time they slid to a stop on the belly, the copilot had done the post crash check and was getting out of his seat to assist the stew to get the pax out. Almost as an afterthought, he looked at the Captain and said, "You know, we must really discuss those landings of yours!"
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Old 22nd Feb 2008, 08:11
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A whole bookful of DC3 stories

A book I picked up from the back shelf in a US pilots shop some years ago is "The Golden Years of Flying" by Captain Tex Searle. Published 1998 (by the Captain himself) you can still find a couple of copies around on Amazon. Capt Tex was with Frontier Airlines in the US throughout their DC3 era, and the bulk of the book is all about fascinating happenings on the DC3 fleet as seen from the flight deck, starying a bit forward into 737s at retirement time and a bit back to B-29s in WW2 when starting out. Thoroughly recommended.

Among other stories is while in the cruise they told the stew on one flight that the empty sacks in the mail compartment (between pax cabin and flight deck on a DC3) actually contained a couple of snakes being taken to the zoo. Then they flipped the light in there out and said it must have burned out. FO went and hid by the mail in the dark, Capt pressed the stew call bell and she came forward very hesitantly through the darkness, FO reached out and grabbed her ankle .....
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Old 22nd Feb 2008, 11:00
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Pigboat.
Many thanks for the link, some fantastic stories there, now facing another weekend of reading internet pages.
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Old 22nd Feb 2008, 12:13
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There was an excellent DC3 programme on TV a few years back. Various husky pilots saying "it's a real man's aircraft"

They then cut to some little South American girlie who was flying booze, whores and food into jungle airstrips for gold miners - in a DC3!

Still got a video of it somewhere
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Old 22nd Feb 2008, 16:13
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Here is mine:

As a kid growing up in Kenya, and being plane-mad, we had a neighbour who was a Swede and a Captain on Dakotas with East African Airways.

The "big Swede" as he was known in our family, took me for a trip on the Dak. On the 4th sector, leaving Dodoma, in Tanzania, pulling the throttles back at the top of climb caused a loud and unpleasant banging. The left engine was pronounced "kaput" and we returned to land at Dodoma.

After consultation with the EAA engineers at Dar-es-Salaam, a Twin Otter load of engineers, tools and spares was despatched to Dodoma.

On arrival, a wizened old Scot pronounced the likely cause to be a broken con-rod. He removed the cowling, and then instructed Sven to get into the cockpit, start the engine, and run it at idle.

Standing underneath the running engine he listened to it's beat carefully, cocked his head one way, then another and finally signalled for the engine to be cut.

He then pointed to the offending cylinder, which was speedily removed to show, sure enough, the broken con-rod.

A glorious harmony of man and machine you could say. Still impresses me to think of it nearly 40 years later.

BSD.
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Old 22nd Feb 2008, 17:42
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Ah yes, DC3s, Gulf Aviation late 60's early 70's......

Alan Bodger, left hand seat, scheduled flight, taking off, cigar going, reminiscing about how he claimed the record on the Hump with 80 SOB in a Dakota....

The contract DC3 skipper we had occasionally, only type he'd ever flown in 35 years was the DC3, eyesight so bad he would aim off the the left when going to a desert strip and get the F/O to watch for the strip and call for a turn to the right when he saw it...then talk him down.

Starting an engine, right in front of the new glass-walled terminal at AUH, under the disbelieving gaze of the passengers, using a Landrover and length of rope when the starter motor failed; the prop hub, rather elongated like a protuberent nipple, was designed for this purpose, according to the engineer.......we believed it, anyway. It's funny how slowly passengers walk to get on board, sometimes. I imagine it's the same with people going to the scaffold.

Wondering, when I first joined, why the pilots put their macs on when boarding, if cloud was forecast on route.

It was decided to try out the notion of paying someone - called a "steward" - to ride in the back with the passengers, for no good reason that anyone could see. The waiters from the Gulf Hotel in Bahrain were press-ganged into this work on their days off, and given a rudimentary course (one afternoon) on what they had to do. So during a transit at DXB one over-eager, wooden-headed Captain gave the Steward a little test.
"Hassan, imagine we've just taken off. We've managed to get over the town here, and we've just crossed the coast. Suddenly it all goes quiet, and you hear me shout 'Prepare to Ditch'. What do you do?"
Hassan, anxious to please, scratches his head, can't find an answer.
Captain presses him "Come on, say something....just taken off, no engines, I say 'Prepare to Ditch'.
Hassan brightens up; "I know, yes, after take off, serve orange juice".

Same steward; same Captain. On route Al Ayn to DXB, a route much favoured by the local ladies who went shopping in DXB. Al Ayn was a tiny village then. Captain notices, in the cruise, that it suddenly got more draughty than usual. Calls the Steward, asks if anything unusual down the back. Hassan says no. Eventually F/O is dispatched to have a look round and finds the overwing emergency exit has been opened next to a lady passenger; you'll remember that they hinged outwards at the bottom, with a simple handle at the top. F/O decides not to try and get it back but asks Hassan if he knew about it. Hassan says "of course, I opened it; she asked me to as she was feeling hot".

DC3 at Al Ayn...somewhere around 1970..it's a turnround on the service from/to DBX..sorry about quality



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Old 22nd Feb 2008, 20:35
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There was an excellent DC3 programme on TV a few years back. Various husky pilots saying "it's a real man's aircraft"

They then cut to some little South American girlie who was flying booze, whores and food into jungle airstrips for gold miners - in a DC3!

Still got a video of it somewhere
Sedberg - I've got this on video as well. It was on BBC2 and called "Perpetual Motion". Featured Freddie Laker amongst others.... I believe the female pilot subsequently died in a crash operating out of one of those jungle strips.
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Old 23rd Feb 2008, 01:36
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What happened to my DC-3?



I was probably the last one to fly this one before the picture was taken.
I flew it down from Alaska to Arlington September or October 1986.
Looks like one aileron was removed...

She was a good flying airplane: Had the extended cockpit and the big engines, 1350 HP.
I hauled fish of the beaches in Alaska for the Silver Salmon season.
Could tell some stories....

Last edited by TowerDog; 23rd Feb 2008 at 01:40. Reason: Hmm, picture did not load.....
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Old 23rd Feb 2008, 01:43
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http://www.airliners.net/search/phot...nct_entry=true

Well, just the link then.....
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Old 23rd Feb 2008, 03:20
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Eventually F/O is dispatched to have a look round and finds the overwing emergency exit has been opened next to a lady passenger; you'll remember that they hinged outwards at the bottom, with a simple handle at the top. F/O decides not to try and get it back but asks Hassan if he knew about it. Hassan says "of course, I opened it; she asked me to as she was feeling hot".
During the airlift by Hollinger Ungava Transport to build the Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway in the early 1950's, a child was sucked out of the forward of the two emergency overwing exits on the left side of one of their DC-3's. The aircraft was equipped with the military seating along the walls on either side of the center aisle. The kid was two years old, standing on the seat and was playing around with the emergency exit handle, when the window flew open. The area of low pressure in that location, immediately behind the wing, was sufficient to pull him out of the cabin. The kid's mother never recovered from the shock.
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Old 23rd Feb 2008, 13:11
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Emergency exits.

Strange...
I'm sure all the DC3/C47s I've been involved with had cabin emergency exits hinged at the top.
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