Buddy, can you spare me a DC-3?

The National Test Pilot School in Mojave, California, is in need of a DC-3 to replace the C-47 Turbo Dakota that it lost due to a takeoff accident on 4 February.


N834TP was destroyed after the two pilots, one instructor pilot from NTPS and one Korean Air Force student pilot, inadvertently took off with full right rudder trim set. NTPS officials say the Pratt & Whitney PT6-65AR-powered conversion began to yaw to the right after rotation, becoming airborne as it left the side of the runway. The aircraft the settled back to the ground then hit a sand berm.

The crash tore the left main gear from the 62-year-old aircraft as well as the left engine. It also buckled the fuselage. Also destroyed were the nose-mounted forward-looking infra red system turret and belly mounted air-to-ground marine patrol radar, equipment which is normally used to train pilots as well as flight test engineers at four stations in the cabin.

At the time of the accident, the Korean pilot was flying left seat as part of a familiarization ride linked to his flight training, and no engineers were onboard. Both pilots received only minor injuries, says Ed Solski, a test pilot instructor at the school and head of the internal investigation of the accident. Solski says the aircraft appears to be damaged beyond repair.

Solski says he knows of two DC-3s nearby, but both will require significant work to regain N834TP’s functionality. Other options are being pursued as well. Meanwhile, he says the NTPS may have to rent one or barter for a ride….


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