Venerable Airplanes

In this day of the jet liner, we’ve all but forgotten the airplanes that paved the way for modern travel. Among them, perhaps none is more venerated that the Douglas DC-3. Here in Aruba, there is one parked across the highway from the Queen Beatrix airport. It’s slowly falling to pieces under the Caribbean sun, which is a sad ending of such a proud machine. Here’s a current photo:

auadcaToo bad this one will never take to the air again. I checked on some facts about the DC-3 and discovered that it was the first airplane to enable the airlines to make a profit on passenger service only. American Airlines used it on the New York to Chicago route in 1936, and the air travel business was off to the races. More than 10,500 DC-3’s were built, and according to my research, about 1000 of them are still flying. Not bad when you consider they were built between 1935 and 1947. Here are a few other tidbits: It had a cruising speed of just over 200mph, carried up to 28 passengers, had two engines developing 1,200hp each, could travel about 2,000 miles with maximum fuel, and way back when you could buy one for about $138,000.

Flying must have been a great adventure back in the days of the DC-3. You couldn’t fly above the weather. There wasn’t much in the way of electronic navigation. You had to climb up and down the stairs just to board the plane. Still, it sounds like fun. Just a few things to think about when you’re sitting aboard a modern airliner, cruising along in pressurized, air conditioned comfort at about 500mph, high above the clouds, guided by satellite navigation.

Bon dia from Aruba.

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