Aircraft and aviation enthusiasts enjoyed a very rare treat this week with the arrival of a 73-year-old Douglas DC-3 at Shannon Airport.
The twin turboprop plane flew almost 8 hours across the Atlantic from St John’s in Newfoundland, Canada and made an overnight stop at Shannon on Wednesday.
The Priority Air Charter, operating on behalf of charity organisation Samaritan’s Purse, departed again early yesterday en route to Malta from where it was due to continue to Africa to carry out missionary work.
The historic aircraft, registration N467KS, is believed to be one of the last DC-3 built. It was originally scheduled to land in Shannon at 6.35pm on Wednesday however the arrival time was amended early in the flight.
In the end, the flight touched down just a minute later than it’s revised 6.51pm estimated time of arrival.
The official aircraft viewing area on the north side of Shannon’s main runway was thronged with plane buffs and other curious onlookers.
A line of step ladders could be seen along the security fence with every possible vantage taken to ensure photographers go their shot of a piece of aviation history.
The Douglas DC-3, also known as a Dakota or Gooney Bird, made its first flight on December 17, 1935, in Santa Monica California. Since then, DC-3’s have been flying all over the world, carrying both freight and passengers.
Aer Lingus used DC-3’s between 1940 and 1958 when they were replaced by new Fokker F-27 Friendship twin turboprops.
Production of DC-3’s for use as civilian airliners ended in 1942 while military versions were produced until the end of the war in 1945 and were called the C-47 Skytrain.
In the 1950’s some DC-3’s underwent conversions with the fuselage being extended and carrier’s changing to different engines.
The aircraft that visited Shannon this week was built in 1942, according to records, making it one of the last DC-3’s built.
According to records, the plane operated in India, China and Egypt in the mid 1940’s and for different airlines in the Middle East and Africa up to the mid 1970’s.
Between 1976 and 1980 it appears it didn’t fly at all and was kept in storage in Rand, South Africa. After returning to service in 1980, the plane was flown for almost a decade by the South African Air Force.
In the subsequent years the aircraft was operated in the US before being acquired by Priority Air Charter in Ohio and now is understood to be on loan to international relief organisation Samaritan’s Purse.
In April 2005, a Mauritian Air Force DC-3/C-47 made a stop at Shannon while enroute from Spain to the US via Icelane.