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19 JUNE 2017
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The last of the Douglas DC-3s to fly regularly over the US disappeared from the skies on Tuesday when the Catalina Flying Boats air freight service flew its last service out of Long Beach Airport in California.
The DC-3, known commercially as the Dakota, was the most important transport aircraft during World War II and then as the backbone of many airline fleets. With Russian- and Japanese-built versions, over 16,000 were built.
The first DC-3 built was the Douglas Sleeper Transport – also known by airline customers as the Skysleeper – and it was the height of luxury, providing all 16 passengers with state-of-the-art seats that folded out for sleeping at night.
This was essential in 1936 when a California – New York flight meant cruising along at 207mph, making it a 15hr journey – and the aircraft had to make three stops to refuel. The return trip was 18hr because of headwinds.
The CFB aircraft, which are being replaced by Cessna Caravans, are now heading for South Africa where they will be used for humanitarian flights, while around the globe the DC-3 is still used for routes from Africa and South America to Haiti, as well as Canada’s Northwest Territory. In the UK Air Atlantique's pair of aircraft still soldier on in a pollution control mode under contract to RVL at East Midlands Airport. G-AMPY is 74 years old and G-ANAF now 73 and both have flown over 24,000 hrs. Owner Mike Collett says they may become available for sale later in the year.
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Ed Hirsch, Miami, FL, USA
The USAF C-47 (DC 3) played a crucial role in the Berlin Airlift during the Berlin blockade by the Soviets in 1948 to keep the Berliners from starving.