Famed DC-3 Returns to the Skies

The inaugural flight of the Historic Flight Foundation's restored DC-3.

HFF DC-3 Departing Bellingham

HFF DC-3 Departing Bellingham

** Photo credit: Lyle Jansma**AeroCapture Images - Lyle Jansma

A very special airplane made its first flight since undergoing a complete restoration at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. The Historic Flight Foundation’s DC-3 took to the skies over the weekend in its distinctive Pam Am paint scheme.

The history of the foundation’s DC-3 began in 1944 as a C-47 in Asia, flying for the China National Aviation Corporation in the China-Burma-India Theater of WWII, where it flew critical supplies and personnel across the Himalayas, a route commonly referred to as the “Hump.”

The airplane was also in the hands of Claire Chennault, commander of the Flying Tigers during WWII, before returning to the United States and receiving an N-number in the late 1940s. The DC-3 then flew routes with Pan Am before being converted into an executive transport for Johnson & Johnson.

Because of the Pan Am heritage, the foundation decided on a 1949 Pan Am paint scheme, which includes the correct blue color and the 48 stars of the U.S. flag at that time. The interior, completed by Sealand Aviation in Campbell River, British Columbia, is a combination of executive-style VIP interior with classic Pan American Airways’ touches, reflecting its varied past.

Everything firewall forward is new or overhauled to zero time, according to the foundation, including the engines and propellers, ensuring she should be good for relatively low maintenance service for some time.