A piece of aviation history, and the only item on the National Register of Historic Places that is able to fly, has completed its nearly seven-decade long career by retiring to the Texas Air & Space Museum in Amarillo, TX.
The Douglas DC-3 aircraft known simply as "N34" arrives in Amarillo Feb. 13 and will go on display at the Texas Air & Space Museum (10001 American Drive, Amarillo, 77111) on March 1.
Most recently, N34 was operated by the Federal Aviation Administration and flew out of Oklahoma City. The FAA switched to a new generation of aircraft so it decided to send its last DC-3 to the Amarillo museum.
"This is a big event for both the museum and Amarillo. Acquiring this major piece of American aviation history catapults Amarillo onto the map of major destinations for aviation and history buffs," museum board president Ron Fernuik says.
N34 will be displayed temporarily in the museum's hangar on the grounds of Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport but fund-raising is well underway to develop a unique, permanent home for the aircraft.
The Douglas DC-3 revolutionized the commercial airline industry and made a significant contribution to military aviation during World War II. Designed and built in the mid-1930s, more than 10,000 DC-3s were manufactured but only 410 are still registered in the United States, making N34 a rare survivor of a once common aircraft type. DC-3s were utilized in a vast array of duties from luxury transcontinental passenger transports to crop spraying.
General features of DC-3s include all metal fuselage and cantilevered low wing, all metal vertical and horizontal stabilizer, two reciprocating radial engines, fabric covered control surfaces (ailerons, rudder and elevators) and two main landing gear consisting of wheels and tail wheel. The all-aluminum metal low wing was built in three sections with the stub-wing center section integrated into the lower fuselage; it supports the engines, nacelles and landing gear on each side of the fuselage.
May 1945- Completed by the Douglas Aircraft Company in Oklahoma City.
1945-58- Flew for the US Navy in a wide variety of duties. One of those duties may have been as part of the Berlin Airlift after World War II.
1958-81- Flew for the Civil Aeronautics Administration (later the FAA). Duties included Flight Inspection Aircraft, a Type II Flight Inspection Aircraft and finally as the FAA's main flight inspection training aircraft.
1981- Retired from FAA and kept in storage while also flying to and in air shows across the country.
2002- Reconditioned to participate in US National Centennial of Flight events
2008-9- Participated in events marking the FAA's 50th Anniversary.
February 13, 2014- Transferred to Texas Air & Space Museum in Amarillo, TX
March 1, 2014- Goes on public display at the museum.