21 June 2024 Civil/General Aviation » DC-3 » 50th Anniversary - Europe  
DC-3s 50th Anniversary - EINDHOVEN AND FAIRFORD 1985

This report first appeared in Propliner Aviation Magazine No. 23, and is being reproduced here by kind permission of the editor, Mr. Tony Merton-Jones.

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Birthday parties are always happy occasions, and with the DC-3 now entering its sixth decade, this remarkable vet¬eran has been the excuse for birthday celebrations the world over. Here in Europe, there are many Dakotas still flying - some with air forces, some with airlines, a hand¬ful used for film work and special tasks, and a few in the prized hands of specialist groups dedicated to the preser¬vation of the Dakota.

The Dutch celebrate

The Dutch Dakota Association is one such group who purchased an immaculate C-47A Dakota from the Finnish Air Force, and have now finished the aircraft in their own very special colours, and registered her as PH-DDA. This association held its celebration for the Dakota at Eind¬hoven between July 5 and 11, when Dakotas from many parts of the world were invited to this very special birthday party. At one time the DDA had hoped that more than ten aircraft would be present at Eindhoven, but eventually only Seven aircraft actually arrived. Apart from PH-DDA, these included N15lZE, an R4D-6S of the Confederate Air Force which crossed the Atlantic for the occasion, and which arrived in Amsterdam on the evening of July 5 after staging via Iceland and Glasgow. She was closely followed by another American Dakota, a C-53 N53ST, flown by Colonel Tom A. Thomas from Oklahoma City. With the Confederate Air Force Dakota flying all the way from Harlingen, Texas, Colonel Thomas decided to take a route via the west coast of the United States in order to win the longest distance prize at Eindhoven! Other participating Dakotas included the Hibernian Dakota Flight DC-3 N4565L from Dublin, the Aces High Dakota G-DAKS from Duxford, while Air Luton sent G-AMPO from Luton on the morning of July 6, and Air Atlantique despatched G-AMSV from Stansted on the same day.

To England

With the Dutch celebrations completed on July 11, the flotilla of Dakotas set course for Fairford, where they were joined by several other aircraft. The Air Luton DC-3 had returned to the UK on July 8 due to work commitments, while the Hibernian DC-3 was delayed with radio problems. However, five aircraft flew in formation across the Eng¬lish Channel, via Dover and Tower Bridge, performed a spirited flypast at Heathrow in between the endless stream of jet movements, and finally arrived at Fairford shortly after midday. The Royal Aircraft Establishment Dakota, ZA947, had arrived at Fairford a few minutes earlier from Farnborough, and patiently waited on the runway while the five Dakotas flew overhead. And then they came in to land one by one, with the Aces High Dakota landing with her starboard engine shut down. She was followed by the rem¬ainder of the quintet, and an hour later the Irish conn¬ection made it when N4565L landed at one o'clock. Later in the day, the Italian Air Force's contribution to the festivities arrived when their immaculate Dakota touched down after a flight from its base at Pratica di Mare via Chateaudun, in France. Normally, this Dakota is used for calibration duties at Italian Air Force bases, and this was a rare treat indeed for Dakota buffs.

Late arrival

One further Dakota arrived on Friday July 12. All aircraft participating at Fairford were given slot arrival times in order to prevent long delays occurring. Trans¬valair's Dakota, F-GDPP, was allocated a time of 1208 local, and precisely on time 'PP could be seen pounding down Fairford's approach chased it seemed by an ugly C-5A Galaxy. The Dakota's sedate approach speed must have caught out the Galaxy pilot, and once the Dakota had safe¬ly touched down, the Galaxy was seen to apply power and go round again. But the Dakota's intimidation of this mon¬ster did not end there, because once neatly parked at the end of the line of Dakotas, F-GDPP successfully blocked the passage of the Galaxy to its parking position. With most of her 32 French patriots, tricolours in hand, disgorged after their flight from Caen, it was now the turn of the RAF ground crew to move the Dakota away to allow the enormous Galaxy to pass - rather like sail giving way to passenger liner! More than 20 minutes elapsed before the Galaxy was able to taxy to its position - one crew that certainly will not forget Fairford's salute to the Dakota!

The British

Air Atlantique's Dakota G-AMSV flew passenger charters into the show from Lulsgate on both July 13 and 14, while G-AMRA came in with a party from Norwich on the Saturday. With the show over on Sunday evening, the birthday party had also ended, and with many new friends made, the Dakota crews bid farewell to Fairford and set course for home. Maybe the aircraft, if not their crews, will all meet again in fifty years time for the DC-3's centenary!


The table below lists the aircraft seen, and at which event. They have been arranged in alphabetical order according to country.

France F-GDPP Transvalair C-47A-1-DL, 42-23310, D 06 Mar 43 - 8th AF 23 Nov 43 - G-AGZF Scottish A/L, Prestwick, R 18 Dec 45 - WZ984 for trooping purposes - French AF 15 Oct 52. Probably flew as 141406 D 01 Nov 52 - CIET 340 May 54 - GLAM 1/60 "FRAFC" Aug 54 - GLA 45 May 56 - GT3/62 "FRASL" Mar 57 - GLA 45 "FSCDA" Oct 58 - GLAM 1/60 "FRAFH" Nov 60 - GTLA 2/60 "FRAJN/JI" Mar 64 - GLAM 1/60 "F-RAFN" - 1966 to Sept 68 - St Chateaudun 1971 - F-BRGN Rousseau Avn 1972 ntu - TL-JBB Pres de la Rep CentraL Afrique R Jul 75 - TL-AAX Inter RCA, Bangui Jul 80 - F-ODQE 1983 ntu - F-GDPP ACE Transvalair R 03 May 1984 - Noted at La Ferte Alaise, 09-11 Jun 2000 – ACE Transvalair op for DHL; Air Inter lsd?; Rr F-AZTE, photographed in bare metal with RAF roundel and fin flash, and serial KJ994, June 2005, France. International Air Tattoo only. Arrived on the 12th. In Transvalair/ACE colours & titles.
Great Britain G-AMPO Air Luton C-47B-30-DK, 44-76853, DO1May45 - KN566 RAF Nassau 05May45 - ACSEA 3lMay45 - 300 Gp 19Jul45 -1333 (TS)CU Mar46-1381 (T)CU 14Jun46 - Waterbeach 06Feb48 - Oakington TC 08Nov48 22MU 14Feb50 - G-AMPO J A Wilson 25Feb52 Starways Ltd "Cynthia" R03Feb53 - Eagle Acft Svces 1OMay54 - First Air Trading Co Ltd R290ct54 Eagle Acft Svces "Sir Richard Kempenfelt" R07Jan55 - Starways Ltd Rl60ct56 - Avn Overhauls Ltd R24Dec63 - British Westpoint A/L L Jan to Dec - LN-RTO Polaris Air Tpt A/S D29Dec64 - G-AMPO Field Acft Svces Rl7Jun69 - British Acft Corp R240ct69 - Macedonian Securities (Overseas) Ltd ROlJul72 - Macedonian Avn Ltd R2lMar74 Humber A/W Ltd R30Dec74 (never used) McDonald Avn Ltd R07 Aug75 - Intra A/Ws L Aug75 - The New Guarantee Trust Finance Ltd t/a Intra A/W R 01Apr76 - Vistair Flight Ltd R07 Apr78 - Lease Air Ltd t/a Eastern A/W, Kirmington Ju178 - Air Atlantique R 210ct8l. L Air Luton 1985. On lease, in Air Atlantique colours. Left on the 8th due to airline scheduled work. At Eindhoven only.
Great Britain G-AMRA Air Atlantique C-47B-15-DK, 43-49474 D25Nov44; KK151 243Sq; 525Sq; 238Sq; Oakington RAF Montreal 18 Dec 44; 300 Wg 03Mar45; UK Apr 46; 525 Sq 13 Jun 46; 238 Sq Dec 46; Oakington 25 Mar 49; 12MU 17 Sep 49; G-AMRA J A Wilson t/a Starways R 08 Mar 52; Airwork Ltd (Transair) 11 Apr 53; Used as XE280 for trooping contracts 1953; Aden Oil Refining L (Oct 53); BUA R 01 Jun 60 (Dakota 6) BU(CI) A/W t/a Morton R 01 Nov 62; BUIA R 01 Nov 68; British & Commonwealth Shipping Co (Avn) Ltd op by BUIA R 03 Jun 70; British Island A/W R 16 Apr 73; Site Avn L 08 Jan 74 to 10 Jan 74; BIA 11 Jan 74; Macedonian Avn R 15 Mar 74; Humber AAV R 3O Dec 74; Intra A/W R 25 Aug 76; Lease Air Ltd, t/a Eastern A/W, Kirmington R 18 Jul 78; Painted "CCCP-7245" Aeroflot c/s for film (Dec 78); Air Atlantique Ltd. Jersey R 21 Oct 81; G-AMRA operated by Air Atlantique; Empire A/Ws fictitious titles/colours for film, Jul 91. International Air Tattoo only. Brought passengers from Norwich on the 13th.
Great Britain G-AMSV Air Atlantique C-47B-25-DK c/n 16072/32820; 44-76488 D19Mar45 - KN397 - RAF Montreal 21Mar45 - UK 03Apr45 - ACSEA 20Aug45 - ACFE (Dec46) - 12MU/UK 08Sep47 - 96Sq Oakington -TC 08Jul48 - 22MU 15Feb50 - G-AMSV Air Svce Training Ltd R15May52 - Transair Ltd 22Dec54 Lancashire Acft Corp L 1954 - (Dakota 6) May59 BUA Ltd R0lJul60 - BU(CI)A t/a Morton Air Svces Ltd 01Nov62 - BUI AAV R01Nov68 - British & Commonwealth Shipping Co (BUIA) 03Jun70 British Island A/W 16Apr73 - Macedonian A/W R29Aug74 - Humber A/W Ltd R30Dec74 - Air Freight Ltd t/a Skyways Cargo A/L R05Jun75 - Peters Avn L - Sun Oil Co L 06Nov76 - Air Freight Ltd, Lydd (1980) - Bretagne Air Svces L May80 - F-BSGV Trans Europe Air R 05Jun81 (ntu) - G-AMSV Air Atlantique R25Mar82. Coventry. In special 50th anniversary colours. Flew passenger charters into International Air Tattoo on both the 13th and 14th from Lulsgate. Attended both events.
Great Britain G-DAKS Aces High C-47A-75-DL 42-100884 D 29 Dec 43 - 8th AF 25 Feb 44 - 9th AF - TS423 RAF HGSU 02 Sep 44 - 436 Sq 09 0ct 44 - Gatow 20 Mar 46 - 44 MU 05 Jun 47 - Ferranti Flying Unit (FFU), Turnhouse, 15 Aug 49 - 4 FFU Freugh, 31 Jan 55 - Short Bros & Harland Ltd, W. Malling Oct 67 - Marshalls of Cambridge Ltd 14 May 69 (for RAE) - RAE Farnborough (1978) - G-DAKS M Woodley t/a Aviation Enterprises, Duxford R 14 Sep 79 - "G-AGHY” Fictitious reg for TV series "Airline". - KG374 Painted as Flt. Lt. Lord's Dakota for 1983 air show season - Painted in wartime RAF colours w/codes YS-L for use in the 1984 TV series "The Fourth Arm" – Painted as 42-100884 May 87 – Painted as TS423 Oct 89 - N147DC - Rr Aces High Eindhoven only.
Great Britain ZA947 Royal Aircraft Establishment C-47A-60-DL, 42-24338 D07Sep43 - 661 RCAF 16Sep43 UK (1965) - Scottish Avn Ltd, Prestwick Apr69 "KG661" Royal Acft Establishment, W Freugh May71 - (The true KG661 was c/n 13478, and it was only in 1979 that this error was put right) – RAE Farnborough - ZA947 "Portpatrick Princess" Rr Ju179 – To Battle of Britain Memorial Flight for multi-engine crew training. International Air Tattoo only. Arrived on the 11th.
Holland PH-DDA D.D.A. C-47A-70-DL, 42-100646 USAAF History: 873 AES 11May45 - 9ITCS 13May45 - 47TCS 28May45 - 155PRS O2Jul45 - 513FS l7Jul45 - 42ADG 24Jul45 - 513FS 18Aug45 - HQ86thFG 01Dec45 - 45ADG 02Mar46 - Std 16Apr46 - Finnish Govt B 12Jun46 - OH-LCB D26Oct46 - DO-7 01Jul63 - used in film "A Bridge Too Far" as '711212' Sep76 - PH-DDA Dutch Dakota Assoc BV, Schiphol RJan84. Lost on 25Sept96 when a/c crashed in a mud flat killing all 32 on board. Attended both events.
Italy MM61893 Italian Air Force C-47-DL c/n 4236, 41-7749 04Mar42 - 8thAF UK 15Sep42 Oran 26Feb43 - 12thAF Italy - FLC llDec45 – I-LINA LAI R10Jun47 -Alitalia 01Nov57 - MM61893 Italian AF "SP-25" 03Aug60, later coded "CR-46" (Dec71) and "14-46" (Nov81). At International Air Tattoo only, arrived on the 12th from Practica de Mare. Used for calibration work at Italian Air Force bases. Won the Concours d’legance competition.
Ireland N4565L Hibernian Flight DC-3-201A c/n 2108 NC21744 Eastern "346" D18Feb39-N80CAJ Leeward (Dec53)-N51D Rr- N512 A V Davis - Trans International (Dec58) N129H - LV-PCV E 12Apr61 - LV-GYP Servicios Aereos Santa Isabe1 Ju161- Ford Motor Argentina - F De Stefano B Nov8l- E F Abeledo B27Ju182- Stored Ezeiza Apt, B. Aires - N4565L Airspeed Int'l Inc, Miami, FL RDec83 - Hibernian Dakota Flight Ltd, Dublin (Rd N3TV for ferry flight, due early 1984). Delayed departure from Eindhoven due to radio problems. Attended both events.
Sweden SE-CFP Flygande Veteraner C-47A-DL, c/n 13883 43-30732 DOSOct43 - Oran 20Nov43 - 9th AF 20Feb44 - USA 23Sep4S - RFC 290ct4S Canadair Ltd-LN-IAF DNL "Nordfugl" 12Sep46 SAS "FridtjofViking" 01Aug48 - SE-CFP Linjeflyg L BAugS7 - 79006 R Swedish AF, F7 Wg Tpt Sq 29]un60 -13th Wg "76" (1978). - SE-CFP R Mar83. Old SAS colours. Returned to Sweden after Dutch celebrations.
US 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 MedellinHK-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 - ? Arr on Sunday the 7th from Oklahoma City. Attended both events.
US N151ZE Confederate AF 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)-N151ZL Rr - Florida Div of Forestry, Tallahassee, FL R07Jun76 - N151ZE Rr Ju180 - The Confederate Air Force Inc, Harlingen, TX B070ct81. "Ready 4 Duty” nose art. Landed on the 5th after stops in Iceland and Glasgow. Attended both events.

Air Malta Miaco Non-Miaco DC-3s Military C-47s/C-117s 50th Anniversary - Europe 50th Anniversary - Canada Odyssey 86 1997 Gathering in Sweden The Last Time DC-3s abroad Avion Barbara Airkenya ends DC-3 services Project DST
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