Category Archives: DC-3 Stories

A collection of true stories about the DC-3/C-47 dakota

FAA DC-3 N34

N34, the FAA’s last DC-3 was completed in May of 1945 by the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Oklahoma City, the building that is now building 3001 at Tinker AFB, OK. It was finished as an US Army Air Force TC-47B, (SN 44-77027) but immediately re-assigned to the US NAVY as an R4D-6R (Bureau No 99856). Continue reading

DC-3 Flies Itself

Many pilots regard the DC-3 as psychic and exceptionally forgiving. The plane they say has the knack of anticipating pilot errors and compensating for those mistakes. Some insist it can fly by itself. Continue reading

DC-3 Lands in Jersey Swamp

New York Times Jan. 7, 1938

NEWARK, N. J., Jan. 7 -An American Airlines DC-3 NC16015 c/n1553 carrying five passengers, a crew of three, and 780 pounds of mail, dropped out of a pea soup fog and teeming rain shortly after 3 o’clock this morning to a safe, mud cushioned landing in the Jersey meadows. Pilot Usher Rousch made the landing after narrowly missing fences at the south end of Newark Airport. Continue reading

Russian Li-2


To relieve the pressure on the factory, Douglas sold the licenses to manufacture the DC-3 to three countries; Holland, Japan, and Russia. A royalty paid to Douglas for each aircraft manufactured was part of the license agreement. Tony Fokker never manufactured any DC-3s for Holland, but he distributed 63 before the war in Europe ended his operation. Fokker died of pneumonia complicated by meningitis a week before Germany invaded Holland.

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Railway Air Service

It was not a good evening to fly. It was a cold, snowy evening at London’s airport, when Railway Air Service’s G‑AGZA, c/n 12455, DC‑3 service to Scotland taxied into position for take-off. The snow storm had closed the airport to incoming traffic, and outbound traffic was subject to long delays. The plane had been waiting for more than an hour waiting for clearance. When G‑AGZA received clearance, Continue reading

Japanese L2D3

When the DC-3 aircraft came along, the Japanese immediately recognized its potential, especially since they had such great success with the DC-2. Great Northern Airways and the Far East Fur Trading Company (another Japanese military front company) purchased at least 21 DC-3s from Douglas between 1937 and 1939. The first intended for KLM as PH-ARA, but canceled, arrived in Japan on December 6, 1937. Continue reading

High Time DC-3 18121

By Henry M. Holden

The first flight of the Douglas DC-3/Dakota was on December 17, 1935, and December 17, 2010 marked the 75th anniversary of this flying legend. Continue reading

DC-3s Exported to Japan

Douglas DC-3s exported to Japan
Great Northern Airways

c/n Model Delivery Date Engines Remarks
1979 DC-3-237A 8 Dec. 37 P & W ex-PH-ARA

DC-3-237 23 Nov. 37 P & W
2025 DC-3-237A
23 Nov. 37

6 Dec. 37 Cyclone
2037 DC-3-237B 13 Apr. 38 P & W
2038 DC-3-237B 13 Apr. 38 P & W
2039 DC-3-237B 14 May 38 P & W
2040 DC-3-237B 14 May 38 P & W
2041 DC-3-237B 21 May 38 P & W
2048 DC-3-237D 27 Aug. 38 P & W
2049 DC-3-237C 27 Aug. 30 Cyclone
2050 DC-3-237C 26 Aug. 38 Cyclone
2051 DC-3-237C 26 Aug. 38 Cyclone
2055 DC-3-237D (Delivered unassembled)
2056 DC-3-237D (Delivered unassembled)

Far East Fur Trading Company

2096 DC-3-260 17 Jan. 39
2097 DC-3-260 20 Jan. 39
2098 DC-3-260 27 Jan. 39
2099 DC-3-260 11 Feb. 39
2100 DC-3-260 12 Feb. 39
2101 DC-3-260 22 Feb. 39

©Copyright Henry M. Holden, 1996, 2013

For the complete story on the Douglas DC-3 see “Legacy of the DC-3

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DC-3 Flies Itself

Many pilots regard the DC-3 as psychic and exceptionally forgiving. The plane they say has the knack of anticipating pilot errors and compensating for those mistakes. Some insist it can fly by itself.

In 1957, a USAF DC-3 ran out of gas over Missouri. Everyone bailed out and made it to the ground safely. The DC-3 glided over the horizon and made a perfect, unassisted landing in a cornfield.

AAAAAWhile it is very rare for a plane to land without a pilot, it is equally unusual to have monkeys assisting in a landing.

In 1959, John Stevens was flying a planeload of monkeys from Pakistan to Morocco in a DC-3. He ran into a storm, and several crates broke loose, giving the monkeys the run of the airplane. The pilot, concentrating on his flying, did not notice the carnival going on behind him. When the monkeys invaded the cockpit, it was too late for him to do anything. Buttons, switches, and levers were all fair game for the playful primates. Stevens never admitted the monkeys helped land the plane but he said he’d rather fly through a monsoon than with a cockpit full of monkeys again.

In 1959, Southern Airways’ mechanics were performing a maintenance inspection on a DC-3. When they pulled the wing, they found a cracked bolt. They changed the bolt and sent the cracked bolt to the Douglas engineers asking for their comments.

The engineers traced the maintenance history of the aircraft and found the bolt was part of the original factory built aircraft 22 years earlier. The engineers said the bolt had a theoretical life of 16,000 hours and the defective bolt had accumulated 64,879 hours before it cracked. The engineers’ comment back to Southern was a simple, “Congratulations.”

In 1985, a South African Air Force Dakota made a rough landing on a bush airstrip. It swerved and hit a tree and tore off about three feet of one wing tip. The mechanic on board responsible for the aircraft simply trimmed the rough edges, bound the end with masking tape and the Dakota took off and carried out the rest of its mission.

Major R.G. Houghton was the leader of a three Dakota flight on December 10, 1985. The flight was practicing for the intended 50th Anniversary of the Dakota to take place a few days later.

Shortly after leading his formation into position he experienced a high frequency vibration through the control column, and the aircraft rolled to the starboard. He recovered the aircraft through large rudder inputs as the ailerons seemed to have no effect.

It was then that the copilot informed Major Houghton that the number two aircraft had collided with them, and that about one-third of the aileron and a large portion of the wing tip were missing.

Major Houghton broke formation and after establishing the limits of control, decided to fly a high speed, flapless approach to landing. It turned out that because of the extensive aileron damage, both the pilot and copilot were required to physically effect lateral control for the final approach. The pilot landed the aircraft safely at the airfield.

In 1958, the prestigious Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology set out to determine the 100 best-designed mass-produced products of modern times. When the researchers had compiled the data, only two aircraft made the list: the Beechcraft Bonanza and the Douglas DC-3.

Reprinted from DC-3/Dakota Journal ©Copyright Black Hawk Publishing Co 1994, 2013

For the complete story on the Douglas DC-3 see “Legacy of the DC-3”

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