|By Carmelo Turdo and Fred Harl|
We arrived at the Basler facility on Monday morning as the airport was recovering from the nation's largest annual aviation event. Our tour was arranged by Matt Hauck (right), Director of Maintenance and Production, who met us in the lobby during a break in his work assisting the airport with moving aircraft in the aftermath of AirVenture. The tour was conducted by Wing and Flight Controls Lead Hans Wagenpfeil, seen below during our visit to the machine shop. You know you are in the world of the DC-3 as soon as you walk through the front door.
|Basler Turbo Conversions graphic|
Below are some views of the current aircraft projects, including the main production floor and the machine shop where custom parts are fabricated:
During our visit, That's All, Brother, a Douglas C-47 that served as a pathfinder for the D-Day Invasion of France in World War II, was brought into the service hangar for maintenance on its left engine. The aircraft was restored over the last several years to its original configuration for the Commemorative Air Force. The Aero Experience was there for the project rollout at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015.
Outside of the facility is the apron and grassy area where the current fleet aircraft and future project airframes are parked. The sharp green and white turboprop BT-67 conversion is a long-time Basler aircraft that was originally manufactured in 1943. Beside it is a C-47B used by Airborne Support of Houma, LA to apply dispersing agents used in oil spill clean up efforts. They also use another DC-3, a Basler BT-67 and other aircraft types in their fleet. A Commemorative Air Force C-47, painted as The Black Sparrow after another aircraft of that name that was a leading troop carrier aircraft on D-Day, can also be seen along with several others on the apron and in the grass. Our audience may recognize the blue and white North Cariboo 1943 C-47B that was the subject of our three-part series, Found! Daughter of World War II Veteran Locates His Douglas C-47 in the Midwest. The aircraft was named Miss Anabel Lee and flown by Major Thomas E. Nunn and crew in the fall of 1944. That winter, it was flown by other crews on resupply missions during the Battle of the Bulge and was redeployed to France supporting the Allied sweep through Germany. The aircraft flew in Canada for North Cariboo in the 1980s and kept her fading paint scheme until her retirement. She remained on the apron at St. Louis Downtown Airport for over ten years before being acquired by Basler at the end of 2018. This aircraft was transported to Basler in June of this year, as seen in our post, World War II Veteran Douglas DC-3 to Get New Lease on Life as Basler Turbo Conversion.
The Aero Experience thanks Director of Maintenance and Production Matt Hauck, Hans Wagenpfeil and the management and employees of Basler Turbo Conversions for their hospitality and for the opportunity to follow the former St. Louis-based C-47 through the moving process to the Basler location. We will provide updates on this aircraft as it goes through its conversion in the years ahead.