The Lyons Museum included a few larger types in the hangar. At one end they had both a DC-3 and a C-47. While notionally different types, they are in principle the same aircraft and one that Douglas churned out in huge numbers. The DC-3 was configured in a slightly more comfortable way than the C-47 though. Troop transport was not a luxury business. Get as many people and bits to where you are going as you can. The paying passengers were a more demanding crowd and the interior is designed to make them feel like they were being treated accordingly. Either way, they are both great looking aircraft.
My buddy Pete joined me for some fun in the LA area. Pete is a commercial pilot but any form of aviation appeals to him so we have a lot in common. We had a full day available to go exploring. One part of the day was allocated to a helicopter trip but the rest was open time for us. Our first stop was Santa Monica airport.
I was introduced to this great place by another friend, Paul, who was, coincidentally, introduced to me by Pete. It is a short distance north of LAX but is the total opposite. Santa Monica accommodates everything from light sport aircraft to some pretty substantial corporate jets. What it also accommodates is visitors. A nice terrace area is laid out at the terminal building providing a great spot to watch operations with the runway only a short distance away.
The tower frequency is piped to the terrace so you know what is going on. There are vending machines and bathrooms to cover both ends of the spectrum and, in the past, I have seen the airport police officers handing out stickers to kids. The place is so welcoming you see lots of parents show up with their kids to watch the planes. As a UK based pilot, Pete found this to be an amazing improvement on his usual experiences at small airports.
I didn’t actually take my camera initially. I wasn’t sure how long we would be there. As it turned out a couple of cool jets including a nice Gulfstream came in while I was cameraless. No matter. I did get it after a while and got a few shots of traffic before our plans took us onward. Before we left, we did walk across the road to the Museum of Flying. Santa Monica was the home of Douglas Aircraft for many years. The museum was sadly closed when we were there but there was a nice DC-3 on a pole along with an A-4 and an F-86 so something nice to see.
The Erickson collection did not used to be based in Madras. For many years the aircraft were part of the museum at Tillamook. The old airship hangars at Tillamook were their home. While most of the planes have now moved, one of them still bears a name indicative of its past. This is the Douglas DC-3 named City of Tillamook.
The aircraft sat on the ramp outside the museum hangar for the duration of my visit. The first evening we were there we had time to stroll around the ramp as the sun set. This resulted in some lovely lighting conditions. It was fun to see the DC-3 in close proximity to some later Douglas products. They shall be the subject of a later post.
I have occasionally stumbled on to events that I really should have known about. One such time was a gathering of DC-3s that took place at Rock Falls in Illinois. About 90 minutes from Chicago, this was something I should have known about but didn’t. My friend Paul Filmer apparently knew because he was there. I only found out about it when I heard he had arrived. I already had plans so figured I wouldn’t go. I had arranged to shoot some motorbike riders off-roading in an area not so far away. As it happened, one of the riders was also an autogyro pilot. When we wrapped up the bike shoot, he asked if I wanted to go for a flight. Guess what my answer was.
While we were airborne, we came across one of the DC-3s flying in the local area. He asked if we wanted to follow it so we did. We had talked about heading to Rock Falls before we got airborne anyway. I had texted Paul to watch out for me arriving in a gyro and he thought I was kidding. Once we arrived in the pattern, he realized it was for real.
I got a chance to get some shots of the arrayed Douglas planes as we made our approach. Then, once on the ground, we were able to wander through the ranks of planes. They were in varying conditions with some in pristine shape and others looking like they were after someone with some time and money to bring them back. A couple of the planes were for sale.
It was a fine collection of planes and, since Rock Falls is not terribly close to a major town, it wasn’t over crowded with visitors. There were plenty of people there but you were not fighting for space. I met up with Paul for a chat and took in all there was to see before my pilot decided it was a good time to head home. A pretty fortuitous turn of events since I had not thought I was going to see any of this when I got up that morning.
While Schellville has a great collection of vintage aircraft in operation, it also has a couple of large airframes that do not look like they are going anywhere in a hurry. Parked near the runway are a DC-3 and the PV-2 Harpoon. The DC-3 is a rare sub-type….
The PV-2 has apparently spent some time as a spraying aircraft and it has some Arizona logos on it from a previous existence. It doesn’t have any doors on the bomb bay so I am assuming that these were removed as part of whatever conversion was done for the spraying role although that is just a guess. Both of them are sitting out on the earth and, with the low sun angles you get at this time of year, they look particularly interesting.