On October 29, 1938, a DC-3-227A, c/n 2054, rolled out of the Douglas Aircraft factory in Santa Monica, California, on a beautiful autumn day. Nothing of particular note on her entry into service–except for where she was bound. She’d soon be put on board the deck of a ship bound for Antwerp, Belgium, where she’d be reassembled and put into flying condition. Reborn as HB-IRO, she’d fly for Swiss Air until the war shadowed Europe and she detailed to that effort.
After World War II, she returned to the United States, where she flew as a corporate transport, until Ozark Airlines snapped her up in the late 1950s, and christened her “N143D.” She flew around the Midwest for several years, until she retired from airline flying in 1968. Academy Airlines, a cargo operation in Griffin, Georgia, put her back to work in the 1970s and 80s, and she trained new pilots to the joys of large tailwheel flying–and the life of the freight dog.
Since 2001, she’s had an easier life, back to training full time, then, beginning in the summer of 2017, providing lift for skydivers in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. She visits airshows from time to time, sponsored by Gold Seal Ground Schools–but her favorite thing has to be showing kids what flying history looks like. You can read more about her story in “Together We Fly: Voices From The DC-3,” and more about how Donald Douglas led the team that developed the Douglas Commercial aircraft line in “Honest Vision: The Donald Douglas Story.” Happy birthday, Darla Dee!