|Fred Harl and Carmelo Turdo|
The DC-3C Clipper Tabitha May celebrated its 71st birthday at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016. The most recent aircraft restoration was completed in 2013 in Ogden, UT. It has since appeared at several major aviation events in the striking livery of Pan American World Airways. The aircraft was produced in 1945 and saw limited service in the USAAF. It later served as a corporate aircraft and scenic flight platform (including with EAA). It was the last DC-3 in scheduled airline service in the U.S., and current owner Rob Randazzo tours the country with it to inspire the next generation of aviators. It certainly attracted the attention of everyone in the plaza over the weekend.
The military counterpart of the DC-3, the C-47 Skytrain, was also present on the plaza during the week. This special aircraft was one of the first Douglas C-47s to fly over Normandy during the Allied invasion of France that turned the course of World War II in Europe. This Douglas C-47 was actually slated for conversion to a modernized turboprop-powered transport by Basler Turbo Conversions across the airport from Boeing Centennial Plaza. Instead, the aircraft was acquired by the Commemorative Air Force and is undergoing extensive restoration with the goal of participation in the 75th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy in 2019. As the first of over 800 aircraft participating in the airborne assault, That's All Brother acted as a pathfinder during the night assault. It carried 15 paratroopers, about half the normal amount, and a radar set designed to assist in locating the drop zones. The venerable transport served in the European Theater of Operations through August 1945, then returned to the U.S. and served with 16 different civilian owners until July of 2015. The Commemorative Air Force will ensure That's All Brother has a good start on another 75 years serving as a reminder of the courage of the paratroopers that helped free Europe from tyranny.
The aircraft was on display all week, and was host to veterans groups and public tours. New work on the restoration was evident this year, as can be seen on the following photos of our tour on Tuesday.