Airport Extravaganza features Flagship Detroit

Airport Extravaganza features Flagship Detroit

Posted: Friday, September 10, 2010 9:03 pm

By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
The first DC-3 took to the skies Dec. 13, 1935, from Clover Field in Santa Monica, Calif. And America began a flight-y love affair with the air ship.
Flagship Detroit, which flew from 1937-47 as one of American Airlines’ fleet of popular 84 Douglas DC-3’s, is the oldest surviving such aircraft and the 34th manufactured of 82 such machines. It will be making a special visit to this area as a main feature of 2010 CornFest Airport Extravaganza this weekend.
Manufactured in March 1937, Flagship Detroit was one of a fleet of flying machines envisioned by AA president Cyrus Rowlett Smith that would combine the roominess and comfort of the Curtiss Condor Sleeper with the speed and modern features of the Douglas DC-2.
The first DC-3 saw actual passenger service beginning June 25, 1936, when the Flagship Illinois flew nonstop from Chicago to New York. Soon thereafter the Flagship Detroit appeared, one of 21 passenger “day planes” delivered to the airlines and put into immediate service as soon thereafter as possible when the fleet proved popular.
Outfitted with Curtis Wright propellers, the Bonnet Blue and International Orange plane had a range of 1,215 nautical miles and a 143 knot cruise speed. It carried 21 passengers, a captain, copilot and stewardess, who was also a registered nurse. The air ship was 16.3 feet in height and 64.5 feet long, with a wingspan of 95 feet. Take off gross weight was 25,200 pounds and its fuel capacity was four tanks topped off with 201 gallons each.
In time, ownership of the plane passed to corporate hands and the air ship then became a light freighter and agricultural sprayer for Dynamic Aviation in Virginia. In 1986, the plane was completely overhauled and every major component was either repaired or replaced.
Once Flagship Detroit ceased service, the plane could have rusted on a junk pile in some forgotten hangar, but a group of dedicated men and women sought it out and purchased it through the Flagship Detroit Foundation in August 2004. A major inspection ensued and minor window and door modifications were made to return the plane to its original condition.
To view the history-making piece of flight equipment, plan to visit Everett-Stewart Regional Airport between Union City and Martin Sunday.
Those who purchase an annual membership for $150 in the Flagship Detroit Foundation will receive a certificate authenticating their level of participation and an FSD lapel pin. Newsletters and schedules of events will be sent to members.
Current members will also be invited to ride on the aircraft during positioning flights for a period of a year and will enjoy a visit to the cock pit during the 40-minute flight from the local airport during the 2010 CornFest Airport Extravaganza.
To purchase a membership, contact Jo Ann Speer at the Everett-Stewart Regional Airport at 885-1221.
The opportunity to view this spectacular flying machine is one of many possibilities open to area residents and their guests Sunday afternoon from 1-5 p.m. at the local airport.
Beginning about 1 p.m., a C-45 will blast off for an aerial demonstration, courtesy of the Special Forces Parachute Team. Flags will be flying high in their special program. A T6 demonstration is planned and there will be a static display of historic War Birds and modern aircraft. Visitors can enjoy aerobatic maneu- vers performed by pilots Steve Johnson and Wayne C. Roberts and helicopter rides will be available.
Strictly for laughs, Greg Koontz will bring his Alabama Boys Comedy Club Act to the airfield for high-flying fun and lots of guffaws, as well.
On the ground, there will be face painting, a rock-climbing wall, a petting zoo and pony rides, a mini-carnival and clowns showcasing their talent with balloons of all shapes and sizes.
Those attending can quench their thirst and stave off hunger pangs with treats from the concessions sponsored by event chairmen Jo Ann and Kerry Speer, Ronnie and Cathy Waggoner, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City, Tyson Foods and Coca Cola of Union City.
Funds raised from food and drink will go to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help find a cure for the disease that dramatically and devastatingly affects the lives of children.
Parking is $5 per vehicle at the airport and the fun is priceless for the whole family.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted by e-mail at glenda caudle@ucmessenger.com.

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