The Douglas DC-3 was the aircraft that turned flying from being a frontier game to being ordinary. It was the beginning of bringing air transport to the masses.
If beauty was what I was voting for, with a million others I'd choose the Lockheed Constellation, but beauty is not what this vote is about. It's about changing the game. So if it's not the Wright Flyer, it's got to be the DC-3
It did its military service as the C-47 with equal distinction, and even though my background is that of a military pilot, the aeroplane I vote for would be a civil workhorse - the stuff of life rather than the stuff of death - despite the fearsome glamour and power of beautiful military machines.
This one is a real poser. It would be easier if it was separated into perhaps the all-time best single-engine and multi-engined civil aircraft. And then my mind is further bemused because some are/were both great military and civil types. What is a poor lad to do? I have been running through a plethora of types in my mind. We are not seeking the largest, the fastest, the most luxurious, the prettiest, the most complicated technically are we? So what is it I ponder. I consider the 707, 747, Constellation, Viscount, Beaver, that British work of genius, the Hannibal etc etc......I have even been through my books seeking inspiration. But no matter how deep I search my memory and archives, I keep returning to the Douglas DC-3/C-47.
So much has been written about this machine that I worry whether some of it is pure hyperbole. It was not a perfect aeroplane but it has something special which only those who operated them can truly understand. I sat in the cockpit of a flying example recently and I do not tell a porky when I say that I could have started that machine up there and then, completed all the checks from memory (including the auto-pilot bleed) and just flown away with no drama whatsoever. And I have not flown one since 1973! I think I shall go solid for the DC-3. Who is with Mr. Learmount and I?
I have to admit to not knowing a huge amount about airliners but I do know there are a small number of aircraft that changed the rulebook when they came along, chief among them is the DC-3 and hence it gets my vote.
After all, the only thing that'll replace a DC-3 is another DC-3.
My wings are like a shield of steel.