DC-3 Historical Timeline

The timeless classic has seen a lot in its 80 years.

July 22, 1921: The Douglas Aircraft Co. incorporates, with its main base in Santa Monica, California, in an old movie studio.

After its introduction in the mid-1930s, the DC-3 became a huge hit with airlines, including Delta, United, American and TWA, as well as a long list of international operators. Alamy

April 1936: The first Douglas Sleeper Transport is delivered to American Airlines.

DC3 City of Portland
City of Portland was an early Douglas Sleeper Transport operated by United Airlines. Getty Images
1940: Air Transport Command begins its orders of C-47s, the military version of the DC-3. Tyson Rininger

1943: The 2,000th C-47 rolls out of the production hangar at Long Beach.

1944: More than 100 C-47s fill the skies over Europe while supporting the Battle of the Bulge.

1959: Ozark Air Lines begins operations with 24 DC-3s and three Fairchild F-27s.

Ozark Air Lines Chuck Midyett
Capt. Chuck Midyett began flying the DC-3 as a 20-year-old pilot at Ozark Air Lines. He still flies the DC-3, and says he loves it just as much as he did when he stepped into the cockpit more than 50 years ago. “Together We Fly: Voices from the DC-3” Charles Midyett Collection

1960: Delta Air Lines retires its last DC-3.

1970: Buffalo Airways is founded, with headquarters in Hay River, NWT, Canada, and starts flying the DC-3.

March 23, 1975: A Continental Air Services DC-3 carries 106 people, including 98 children, on a relief flight from Ku Lat to Saigon, Vietnam.

DC-3 Art
Despite its impressive operational capabilities, the DC-3 is also a true piece of art. Getty Images

1982: Four Star Air Cargo begins Caribbean operations using the DC-3.

1989: A DC-3 is the air transport of choice for the fictional Cleveland Indians in the film Major League.

DC-3 Engine
Most DC-3s have two Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radial engines. Getty Images

1993: The DC-3 with the most flight time, PBA’s N136PB, clocks in at 91,400 hours; though not flying today, she could be.

2009: The Ice Pilots NWT TV show debuts; the final episode aired on December 17, 2014.

While the DC-3 has been out of production since the mid-1940s, there are many beautiful examples still flying. However, with a dwindling number of usable engines and the possible end to the 100LL fuel needed to feed them, the days of this historic airplane taking flight might be numbered. Getty Images


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