More than 25 DC-3/C-47s have descended on Oshkosh for a reunion to celebrate the aircraft’s upcoming 75th anniversary. Their arrival over the last two days kick started a week of special activities at AirVenture 2010.

Several of these aircraft are pictured in a special photo spread that begins on page 8. The aircraft featured in this accompanying video was the 21st of 85 DC-3s operated by American Airlines. Called “Flagship of Detroit,” this DC-3 three times carried US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The aircraft is operated by the Flagship Detroit Foundation and is co-based in Tennessee and Texas. Like most of the DC-3s at AirVenture, this aircraft is supported entirely through donations and volunteer work. The Flagship Detroit Foundation has over 1,500 members.

DC-3 line up
© Billypix

The reunion includes an evening event featuring Jim Douglas, son of DC-3 designer Donald Douglas, as special guest. Some of the crew of “Ice Pilots,” a reality TV show in Canada that features DC-3 operator Buffalo Airways, are also at Oshkosh, including “Buffalo Joe” McBryan, the president of Buffalo Airways.

The DC-3 first flew on 17 December 1935. Just under 11,000 DC-3s were built by Douglas, including over 10,000 which flew in C-47 military designation during World War II. After the war the DC-3 became the workhorse of the airline industry. There are roughly 500 DC-3/C-47s in airworthy condition around the world including, including about 100 in the US.

One DC-2 is also on static display at AirVenture 2010. Only 156 DC-2s, which preceded the DC-3 in development, were built. The DC-2 at Oshkosh is on of only two remaining DC-2s in the world.

Heavy rain – Oshkosh was hit with about 10 inches or rain in the 24 days which preceded the start of this year’s show – and mud resulted in fewer DC-3s participating than originally expected. Organisers were also unable to display all the DC-3s in one section of the show site as originally planned and the aircraft arrived in small groups rather than all at once. But still the DC-3s are clearly the star of this year’s AirVenture.

“While everyone was originally anticipating a single mass arrival of these aircraft, months of discussions made it apparent that creating an experience to meet the standards expected at Oshkosh would be extremely difficult,” says EAA president Tom Poberezny. “Ultimately, everyone coming to Oshkosh wants to see as many of these venerable aircraft in the sky as possible. That’s what we intend to do.”