AirVenture Hosts 75th Birthday of the Venerable DC-3

 - August 27, 2010, 9:47 AM

A highlight of AirVenture 2010 was the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the venerable Douglas DC-3, which changed aviation from a novelty to a major means of transportation all over the world. Approximately 500 DC-3s remain in the world today, and 100 of them are in the U.S. Thirty-six of those were at AirVenture, and 21 of them flew in on a mass flight from Rock Falls, Ill.

Although the DC-3 is generally remembered as the world’s first real airliner, military versions, mostly C-47s, exceeded civilian production by more than 10 times. There were 607 civilian DC-3s built and 10,048 military versions, many of which were reconfigured for civilian service as airliners or freighters after World War II. Several of the military versions that saw service in the D-Day invasion of Normandy were among those at Oshkosh for their last reunion.

In addition to the DC-3s, the predecessor of that aircraft, the DC-2, was also at AirVenture, flown there by the legendary Clay Lacy, who has logged 50,000 hours in jets, more than any other pilot in the world. Lacy flew the DC-2 (owned by the Museum of Flight in Seattle) from its base at Van Nuys Airport to Rock Port, Ill., from where it joined the flight of 21 DC-3s to AirVenture.

Of the 156 built, there are only two DC-2s remaining, the one Lacy flew here and one in Holland, also in flyable condition.