23 July 2024 Civil/General Aviation » DC-3 » 50th Anniversary - Canada  

The following report was written by Roger Syratt, and first appeared in Propliner Aviation Magazine No. 27. It is being reproduced here by kind permission of Mr. Tony Merton Jones, magazine editor.

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I received the following e-mail from Ms. Ann B. Richart, AAE, Aeronautics Director, Nebraska Department of Transportation:

Thank you for your informative site! I just wanted to let you know that it was my pleasure to serve on the flight crew as a stewardess on N8042X flying from Fairbanks to Abbottsford for the 1986 World’s Fair. You are correct that we had a full cabin of passengers (28) and stopped in Yakutat, Alaska for fuel. Our sister DC-3 from Frontier Flying Service in Fairbanks carried all the baggage.

In 1990 I completed a bachelor’s degree program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ and have been managing airports and state aviation offices since then. Participating in that historic DC-3 event remains the biggest thrill of my career!

EXPO ‘86

EXPO 86, or to give its full title, "The 1986 World Exposition", being held in Vancouver, Canada, this year has as its theme "World in Motion". One of the many aviation orientated events keying in with this theme was the DC-3 "Airmada". This culminated in 24 DC-3s taking part in a commemorative fly past, exactly 50 year’s after the first DC-3 delivery flight which took place on June 7 1936.

The original concept of the "Airmada" was to bring together at Abbotsford Airport, 45 miles east of Vancouver, a total of at least fifty DC-3s to celebrate the anniversary.

Early EXPO 86 publicity material reflected the organiser's confidence that the magic fifty could be amassed. In the months leading up to the "Airmada" the numbers were slowly eroded. 44 being predicted in March, declining to 34 in the week immediately prior to the event.

A few of the early entrants such as the Aces High Dakota always looked doubtful, but even some of the relatively local "sure things" had to cancel. Most quoting engine or propeller problems as the reason. Many DC-3 operators report experiencing problems with the rear main bearing of the venerable Pratt and Whitney R-1830s; a problem not new to the engine. But being encountered more frequently now that remanufactured bearings are being used.

By the morning of June 6, another anniversary date in which the DC-3 played a part, twenty aircraft were lined up on the Abbotsford ramp for public inspection. Latecomers increased this total to twenty four by nightfall. Most of the DC-3s were opened up for examination, and it was interesting to observe that the majority were working aeroplanes still earning their keep after many thousands of hours in the air. For some like Fairbanks based Audi Air's N8042X, the Airmada was another commercial run. A full load of EXPO visitors was brought down from Alaska on June 5, a two day stopover for the Airmada, and then the long slog back on June 8 to Alaska.

The oldest DC-3 present, Jack Ormes' Los Angeles based N408D, leads a rather glamorous life appearing regularly in films and on T.V. Discerning "Propliner" readers may have seen her recently starring in an episode of "The A Team". She was also one of only two Wright Cyclone engined machines present.

The youngest DC-3 to attend was the Canadian Armed Forces 12959. Winnipeg based with the 402 Air Reserve Squadron, it still sports the radar nose added to house the NASARR avionics used to train C.A.F. CF-I04 pilots. Ironically, the DC-3 looks as if it will outlast the CF-I04 in the C.A.F. inventory!

The commemorative flypast on June 7 began with a mass engine start, which caused a temporary smog to descend over Abbotsford Airport. After lining up on the runway the DC-3s took off at thirty second intervals; 12 minutes of glorious noise. The flypast route was over the EXPO site, Vancouver, Nanaimo and Victoria on Vancouver Island, and finally Bellingham, just over the border in the D.S.A., before returning to Abbotsford.

Some observers along the flypast route must have been previously unaware of the Airmada. One such, encountered by the writer, was a bemused World War 2 veteran who, whilst driving along the Trans Canada Highway in the vicinity of Abbotsford, was surprised to see what he recognised as a Dakota heading towards him at low level. Pulling over to watch it fly past, his astonishment increased with each succeeding aircraft until, by the time number 24 had gone past, he was convinced that he should "sign the pledge"!

Bringing up the rear of the flypast was C-FGXW "Odyssey 86", an ex-Transport Canada DC-3 which was scheduled to depart Canada on June 8 to begin a 33,000 mile, 28 nation, round the world flight to both publicise the EXPO and celebrate the DC-3's fiftieth anniversary.

The landing sequence was enlivened when one undercarriage leg on N408D refused to extend, and the aircraft was forced to go round again. The sight of a camouflaged DC-3 overshooting with only one leg dangling served to heighten the feeling' of nostalgia for the ex-military veterans present. Happily the crew were able to retreat to a more peaceful area of airspace and clear the undercarriage snag, before returning to land at the end of the stream.

Inevitably in view of the fact that less than half the number of DC-3s originally hoped for actually took part, some would ask the question "was the Airmada a success?" The answer from one who attended the event and experienced the unique Canadian blend of hospitality, informality and efficiency which characterised the Airmada, would be an unqualified "affirmative".

Participants - Canada

C-FBXY North Cariboo Air C-47B-5-DK c/n 14535/25980 43-48719 D Sep44 - no card - xx ¬USAF - xx - Carlson-Everts Shelton? - N2768A Patti McDonald Equipment Co - Red Dodge Inc, Anchorage, AK (1966) - Delaware Airjet Inc, Denver, CO Jun69 - NlOHB Rc (1971) - CF-BXY Knight's Rathole Drilling Svce Ltd, Ft St John, BC E21Dec71/07Jan72 - Knight Air Ltd (1975) - North Cariboo Flying Svce Jan82.  
C-FCUE Transport Canada C-47A-20-DK, c/n 12983, 42-93108 DlOApr44 - N Africa TSP 09May44- USA 19Aug45 – RFC 23Aug47 -NC41407 Charles Babb Co, Glendale, CA - CF-CUE Canadian Pacific A/L BI7Jan47 - Dept of Tpt, Ottawa, Ont 13Feb56 - C-FCUE Rr 1975.  
C-FGXW Odyssey 86 DC-3 Society C-47A-30-DKc/n 13868/25313 43-48052 DlOJul44 - KG769 RAF 19JuI44 - RCAF SR WAC 25Ju144 - WAC 07Nov44¬ CF-TEG Trans Canada A/L "80" - "380" 21Nov45¬ CF-GXW Dept of Tpt 21Aug57 - C-FGXW Rr 1978.  
C-FIAE Govt. of Alberta C-47-DL, c/n 4563, 41-18471 05Aug42 - Oran 10May43 - US lOJul45 - RFC 090ct46 - NC50474 - XA-GEQ Communicaciones Aereas Vera Cruz - Aerovias Latinas Americanas - N4887V - CF-IAE Shell Avn Ltd, R22Aug55 - Shell Oil of Canada Ltd R07Ju159¬Shell Canada Ltd, Calgary, AL R27Sep63 - Dept of Lands and Forests R20Jun69 - Prov. of Alberta Air Div., Edmonton, 1975 - Prov. of Alberta, Govt Svces (1978).  
C-FJUV North Cariboo Air C-47A-75-DL, c/n 19394 42-100931 D07Jan44 - 8th AF 09Mar44 ¬DSA03Sep44-RFC 16Nov4S-NS6U -CF-JUVN J McNeill 2SMayS7 - Trans Canada Pipe Lines Ltd, Toronto 2lMarS8 - Vendomatic Ltd 24FebS9 ¬Duplate Canada Ltd IOMarS9 - Smith & Stone Ltd 24Sep62 - Duplate Canada Ltd 23Dec64 - Northern Thunderbird Air (1976) - Knight Air Ltd (May78)¬North Cariboo Air (May80) - Northern Cariboo FIg Svce (1983).  
C-FNWU Northwest Territorial C-47-DL, c/n 6095, 41-18689 07Dec42-10thAF India07Feb43¬India China WgATC 29May43-CAfrica Wg28Jan44 - Exc1 Cairo OIJul45 - TC-AKA DHY "30" 1946 ¬N51F General Mills Inc, Minneapolis, MN, 1954- RJ Pond, Springpark, MN, Jun70 - CF-NWU Northwest Territorial A/ws Ltd, E 07Jul71/R22Jul71 - C-FNWU RrI977.  
C-GPNR Buffalo Airways C-47A-25-DK, c/n 13333, 42-93423 D17May44 - KG602 RAF Montreal 25May44- UK 30May44-575 Sq 05Ju144¬512 Sq M East llOct45 - 437 Sq 04Apr46 - Canadian Govt 16Jun46 - RCAF 09Sep46 - 1 ANS "VCDHJ" (1952) - CAF 12932 Jun70 - 429 Sq - St Saskatoon Mar75 - C-GPNR Buffalo Air Ltd. B Oct80, R Apr8!.  
CF-QHY Plummers Lodges/Sioux Narrows Airways C-47B-5-DK, c/n 14560/26005, 43-48744 Dl6Sep44 - 977 RCAF Dakota 4ST 21Sep44 - xx - 12958 CAF Jun70 - ¬CF-QHY M Carter, Hay River, NWT R14Aug72 ¬Northwest Territorial A/W (1975) - C-FQHY M Carter, Hay River, NWT (1977) - Sioux Narrows A/W Ltd, Winnipeg, Man R08Feb79 - Contact A/W Ltd, Ft. McMurray, Alta Apr80 - Sioux Narrows A/W Ltd, Winnipeg Mar8l.  
12938 402 Reserve Squadron, RCAF Winnipeg C-47A-40-DL c/n 9832 42-23970 D07Jul43 - 656 RCAF 14Jul43 - xx - United Nations (Congo) 115 Air Tpt Unit 1958 to Jul64 - 12938 CAF Jun70 - 429 Sq NASARR nose fitted - Cold Lake (1974) - St Mountainview (1979)¬Cold Lake Base Flt (1980).  
12959 402 Reserve Squadron, RCAF Winnipeg C-47B-15-DK, c/n 15196/26641 43-49380 DISNov44 - 979 RCAF (Dakota IVM) "Pinocchio" 2lNov44 - "10979" Europe (Sep56) - NASARR nose (1965) - 12959 CAF Jun70 - St Saskatoon (Mar75) - CFB Cold Lake "Pinocchio" (1979/80). Equipped with F-104 nose. “Youngest” aircraft in the gathering.


Participants - US

N3FY Salair C-47A-90-DL, 20562 43-16096 D24Jun44 - TCC 27Jun44 ¬Norway 29Apr45 - 43-16096 R Norwegian AF 20 Tpt Flt "Y" 31May45 - LN-IAN DNL L08Jun46/B090ct47 - SAS 01Aug48 - F-OADR Les Avions Bleus "Francoise" D25Mar49 - N9989F Cornell Dubilier Electric Corp, NJ 1951 - Huber Homes Inc (1966) - CH Huber Enterprises Jan68 - N335HH Rr Jan68 - Huber Investment Corp Aug69 - H M Dunn, Lexington, KY Jan70 – Midwest A/L Inc Jun70 - ¬CF-ABA Avn Sales Intl Canada Ltd E07Jun72 - Albig Avn Ltd, Ancienne Lorette, PQ R04Jul72 - Sigfusson Tpt Ltd, Winnipeg, Man R26Apr73 - Superior A/W Ltd R27 Apr73 - Ontario Central A/L - Reindeer Air Svces Ltd - Wright Enterprises Ltd, Edmonton, Alta (1974) - Ilford Riverton A/W Ltd (1978) - Wright Enterprises Ltd R22Jan79 - canc llSep79 - N3FY Yukon Air Svce Inc, Fairbanks, AK B170ct791 R08Nov79 - t/a Air North (also Fairbanks Air Svce).  
N53ST Mid-America Air Group C-47A-20-DL, c/n 9380 42-23518 D19Apr43 - Oran 19May43 - USA 23Sep45 - RFC 290ct45 - NC53426 American Air Express - C-75 SAM - C-505 Soc Aeron Medellin¬HK-505 Rr - N3938C - N66W - N5V Hoover Co, N Canton, OH - N5144 Ohio Avn Co Inc Dec67 - Jack Adams Acft Sales Inc Jan68 - N5l4X Rr - Radcliffe Investment Co Corp, W Memphis, AZ Nov68 - TCE Realty (Sep72) - Mid America Housing - Rio AIW (Mar77) - R E Pockrus, Pt Isabe1, TX (Sep79) ¬Master Gerald Inc, Pt Isabel, TX (Jan80) - ADA Industrial B1dg Corp, Oklahoma City, OK R06Feb80 - N53ST Rr May80 - ? Attended European celebrations in July.
N100Z Unites Sates Forest Service C-47A-90-DL c/n 20494, 43-16028 DlOJun44 - 9th AF 27Jun44 ¬USA 03Ju145 - NC100 CAA 05Mar47 - N8785 FAA Rr 06Aug70 - US Dept of Agric, Ogden, UT R24Nov70 - NIOOZ Rr 1972.  
N151ZE Confederate Air Force, Harlington, TX C-47B-10-DK, c/n 14963/26408* 43-49147 D250ct44 - 50783 USN R4D-6 Olathe VR-3 240ct44 - St Litchfield Pk Dec46 - Quonset Pt May47 - Jacksonville Nov47 - Faetu Lant, Norfolk Apr68 - xx - N151Z USDA Forestry Svce, CA (1966 to 1972)- NI51ZL Rr- Florida Div of Forestry, Tallahassee, FL R07Jun76 - N151ZE Rr Ju180 - The Confederate Air Force Inc, Harlingen, TX B070ct81. Attended European celebrations in July.
N408D Jack R. Ormes DC-3-201D c/n 2247, NC15596 Eastern "357" D14Sep40 - Capitol AIW 09May52 - Mohawk "Ale Tecumseh" - N408D Rr 1958 - N Central 26Feb58 ¬Dr A J Carroll 30Sep64 - Mideastern AIW Inc, Rochester, NY - CDS Co, Waterford, CN - Atlantic Acft & Marine, Waterford, CN (1967) - M N Chapman, Odessa, NY Aug69 - D K Barnes, Ithaca, NY Mar70 - Derelict at Bradley Fld, CT (Oct76) ¬Marine Midland Bank, Syracuse, NY (Oct77) - Radds Equipment & Lsg Inc, Riviera Beach, FL (Jan78) - C Bailey, Rubidoux, CA R27Apr79 - G. Kendall, Oklahoma City, OK ROct83 - J R Ormes, Los Angeles, CA RDec83. “Oldest” aircraft at the gathering.
N486C Baron Aviation Services DC-3-455, c/n 6325 NC34978 American - 43-2000 C¬49K 28Nov42 - Carib. Wg ATC 29May43 - US 17Jun43 - RFC 19Jun45 - NC19193 DPC Eastern "380" L, then B31Aug49 - Frontier A/L B18Aug52-Southern A/Ws 05Feb53 - Zantop - Capitol - N49F Beldex Corp - Union Bag Camp Paper Co, NYC ¬N48UC Union Camp Paper Corp, Sep56 - N486C Rr 22Jan64 - Southern Ohio Avn Sales Co, Corrollton, OH, R22Jan64 - Acft Acceptance Corp, Columbus, OH (1971) - PAP Co Assocs, Dallas, TX (1971) ¬Maples Avn Co., Vichy, MO (1973) - Baron Avn Svces, Vichy, MO R14Jun74.  
N4991E Bill Dause C-47A-1-DK, c/n 12106, 42-92319 D01Dec43 - FZ571 RAF Patricia Bay 04Jan44 - RCAF 32 OTU 07Jan44 - 6 OTU RCAF Oct44 - SOC 21Dec45 - CF-TDU Trans Canada A/L "68"/"368" 30Oct46 - N4991E Frontier A/L "Sunliner Omaha" 16Sep58 - Colorado Natl Bank Exec Investment Co, Louisville, KY 06Aug68 - Jack Richards Acft Co Inc, Oklahoma City, OK (1971) - L Overturf, Mena, AR (1975) - W C Dause, Granger, UT R26Jan76 - W.C. Dause jr, Acampo, CA, R22Sep82 - ? Seen at Lodi, Ca. 1994. See DC-3s Abroad page.
N5106X Henry Oliver III C-47-DL, c/n 9058, 42-32832 DllFeb43 - Oran 20May43 - 8th AF 20Feb44 - USA 16Jul45 - St llSep45 - RFC Oct46 - NC75412 Executive Tpt Corp - General Motors Corp, Detroit, MI Feb48 - N5106 Rr (Nov53) - N5106X Rr May67 - Board of Trustees, Sthn Illinois Univ, Carbondale, IL BNov67, R31Jan73 - ?  
N7500A Aarvik-Britt-Oden Air C-53D-DO, c/n 11693, 42-68766 D30Apr43 - Oran 05Jun43 - USA 27 Aug45 - RFC 28Aug45 - NC45332 Eastern A/L L, B31Aug49 - L B Smith Acft Corp 24Mar52 - N777K Ramapo Foundry & Wheel Work - N7500A Triangle Constr Co - Hecht Constr Co, Syracuse, NY -Patterson McCarty Lsg Co, Oklahoma City, OK 1966 - ICX Avn Inc, Washington DC (1972) - Mercer A/L (1974) - Pacific American A/L (W Mercer) (Jun 77) - J Travolta, Beverly Hills, CA (Nov77) - Travol Air, Beverly Hills, CA (Jun79) - M K Wilson t/a Wofford Acft Sales, Fresno, CA R26Mar80 - Sale reported Mar83 - ? – Nose, fin and wings severely damaged. Noted in open air storage at Sheel Creek, Florida.  
N8042X Audi Air C-47A-65-DL, c/n 19041, 42-100578 D Nov43 –no card -xx- VC-47A (Sep54) - "0-00578" W Va ANG (JuI63) - xx ¬N61725 Air Freight L to Nov74 - United Commander Sales - Jim Hankins Air Svce Inc R Jan75 - J A Hankins, Jackson, MS 1976 - cane Nov77 - N8042X K B Martin, La Verne, CA R31Aug79 - Ryan Fld (Sep79) - ?  
N25641 Basler Flight Service C-47-DL, 9059, 42-32833 DllFeb43 - Oran 17Aug43 - 8th AF 20Feb44 - USA 17Aug45 - RFC 06Nov45 ¬NC25641 Texas Eastern Transmission Corp, Shreveport, LA (1949) - Page AIW Inc, Rochester, NY (Sep70) (DC-3C-S4C4G) - MJA Schekaiban, Mexico (1971) - Wells Adt Inc, Hutchinson, KS (1973) - Kearney & Trecker, Milwaukee, WI R28Dec73 - Basler Fit Svces Inc RFeb84 - ?  
N59314 Frontier Flying Services C-47A-5-DK, c/n 12363, 42-92550 D19Jan44 - KG354 RAF Montreal 25Feb44 - UK 12Mar44 - 512 Sq 22Apr44 - 437 Sq 24Sep44 -Canadian Govt 17Jun46 - RCAF 26Aug46¬1 ANS "VCDHG" (1952) - 12916 CAF Jun70 - VU¬32 Sq - St Saskatoon (Mar75) - C-GABE - N59314 Basler Flt Svces, Oshkosh, WI R07May78 - Frontier Flying Svce (1978) - J L Dodson Trustee, Fairbanks, AK R24Aug78 - Dam 27Jul79 Bettles, AK - J. Hajdukovich, Fairbanks, AK, B26May82 - ?  
N19906 Salair C-47-DL, c/n 4747, 41-38644 27Sep42 -llthAF Alaska 29Mar43 - RFC 05Nov45 - NCl9906 Reeve Aleutian Jan46 - R G Sholton, t/a Northern Air Cargo, Sep78 - R G Sholton, trustees(Jun79) - R D Gerhardt, Seattle, W A R05Feb80 - Small Aero Transit L (JuI80) - ?  
N91314 Methow Aviation C-47-DL, c/n 4538, 41-38589 20Ju142 - 8thAF UK 240ct42 ¬Oran 22Mar43 - US 01Aug45 - RFC 15Nov45 ¬NC17884 United L21May46 to 15Aug49 - USAF, AMC 26Aug49 - Reel at San Bernardino, CA 21Dec49 -N91314 J D Me1vin, Pacoma, CA (Dec53)-Cordova Air Svce (Jun63) - Amerine Turkey Breeding Farms Inc, Oakdale, CA (1967) - Amherst A/ws Inc, Buffalo, NY Apr69 - Jim Rankins Air Svce Inc, Jackson, MS Mar71- Air Indies L 1973 - A A Rulsey, tla Airgo Air Freight, Dallas, TX, Jan?? to Jan80 - Bo-S-Aire L (1979) - Aero Transit Inc, Seattle, W A, L Feb79 ¬Misty Air Inc, Seattle, W A, R12Feb80 - Pacific Alaska AIL, Fairbanks, AK B08Jun82 - Ocean Beauty Seafoods Inc, L09Jun82 - Yakutat Seafoods Co, Yakutat, AK RJun83 - ? – R Methow Aviation ?  

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