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January 12, 2017

Largest DC-3/ C-47 Formation Flight in the World

Monday, July 26, 2010

This summer, over 40 DC-3/ C-47 aircraft will participate in the last largest formation flight in the world at this year’s EAA AirVenture located at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  This historic day has been named The Last Time. People from all around the world will have an opportunity to see this large assembly of aircraft together for the last time.  Courtesy Aircraft Sales is proud to announce that we will be participating in this historic flight with our DC-3, N1944H “Spirit of Alaska”.

Our goal is to educate people on this important aircraft, once quoted by Franklin D. Roosevelt as “The aircraft that changed the world.”  We are searching for people who have flown or worked on our aircraft.

The “Spirit of Alaska” has not always been called by that name. Throughout her long life, this DC-3 has performed many different duties and served many people. Originally owned by the United States Army, the DC-3 started its life in 1945 as 45-1108, a C-47B. The next year, it was delivered to the United States Air Force. In March of 1946, it was put in the care of the RFC, Reconstruction Finance Corporation. This corporation was formed to dispose of government surplus materials. With only 35.5 hours, it was flown to Mineola, NY where all military equipment was removed and then repainted in civilian colors. This was the end of her military career. It was immediately sold to a gentleman who wanted to start an airline, but unfortunately, it never took off.

In early 1946, Jack Losse, the Chief Pilot for Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) found the DC-3. He jumped at the opportunity to buy this military aircraft. After it was purchased, he had it converted to a company DC-3 by Aero Trades, Inc. located in Long Island. The DC-3 entered into civilian registration as NC54542 and became the corporate aircraft for CBS.

CBS sold the aircraft in 1948 with only 550 hours. The DC-3 was re-registered as N280M and flew for Outboard and Marine Manufacturing Company (OMC) of Milwaukee, WI from December of 1966 to March 1977.  In 1977, OMC donated the DC-3 to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) of Franklin, WI. During this time, it was re-registered again as N54542. The DC-3 flew Headquarters personnel, EAA merchandise and later gave scenic rides in Oshkosh, WI.  EAA later sold her to Mike Suzuki of California Air Tours in Burbank, CA. During this time, this aircraft carried thousands of tourists on trips to the Grand Canyon from Burbank, CA piloted by Walter Brubaker and copilot Captain Dan Ried.  This operation ran from 1989 to 1991.

In April of 1995, a Part 121 Airline, Era Classic Airlines purchased the aircraft and renamed her “Spirit of Alaska.”  With approximately 16,500 hours she began to fly sightseeing tours in South-central Alaska. “Spirit of Alaska’s” hostesses were outfitted in 1940’s attire all the way down to seamed stockings and white gloves. Big Band and swing music played while champagne was served.  Even 1940’s news headlines were read over the PA system. After many Alaskan adventures, in 2003 “Spirit of Alaska” was sold and currently resides in Rockford, IL. Currently, the “Spirit of Alaska” has approximately 17,700 hours, and continues to be regularly flown.

Any pictures? Relics? Stories?  If you know anyone or you can help us on our quest and has additional information on our aircraft, please contact our office at your earliest convenience.
Ownership and past N #s of N1944H includes:
United States Air Force (45-1108)
Reconstruction Finance Corporation
Columbia Broadcasting System (NC54542)
Outboard and Marine Manufacturing Company (N280M) Experimental Aircraft Association (N54542)
California Air Tours and
Era Classic Airlines (N1944H)

A little history on THE DC-3
The Grand Old Lady of Aviation

During the time Franklin Delano Roosevelt was serving his first term as President of the United States, corporate officials of the Douglas Corporation in Long Beach, California were diligently working on an airplane that would years later be hailed as “the airplane that changed the world.”  Time has proven how truly successful that effort was with the production of the immortal DC-3. In the U.S., 10,926 DC-3’s were built by Douglas over 2,000 of which are still flying strong today.  American Airlines was the first commercial operator to utilize the DC-3, in 1936. Soon Pan Am and other airlines were pioneering routes in the U.S. as well as Canada and Alaska using this sturdy workhorse, which can land safely on beaches and unimproved strips as well as modern airports.  The DC-3, also known as the C-47 went to war in 1941 serving all allied nations. Many seemingly impossible missions were accomplished with the flexible DC-3. The venerable Grand Old Lady was the first airplane to land at the North Pole and the first to land at the South Pole. Once a member of the 8th Air Force, this Grand Old Lady more than likely took part in D-Day operations with a Troop Carrier Squadron in WWII. Whether saving Guadalcanal during the bleakest days of the war or carrying troops for history’s greatest invasions, the DC-3/C-47 has been an important link to freedom.

An impressive tribute to this airplane was made when Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The three things that helped win World War II were the jeep, the bazooka, and the DC-3.”

Contact information:

Mark Clark                                  (800) 426-8783
President                                      (815) 229-5112
Courtesy Aircraft Sales                 [email protected]
5233 Falcon Road              
Rockford, IL 61109 USA

Darcy Kaapke                              (800) 426-8783
Marketing Director                       (815) 229-5112
Courtesy Aircraft Sales                 [email protected]
5233 Falcon Road              
Rockford, IL 61109 USA

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