September 6, 2012 in City, Idaho

DC-3 lands at Felts Field; goes on display Friday

By The Spokesman-Review
Mike Prager photo

The Flagship Detroit arrives at Felts Field in Spokane Thursday afternoon. The 1937 DC-3 will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location

A vintage restored DC-3 airplane landed at Felts Field in Spokane this afternoon, and will go on display to the public on Friday.

A nonprofit organization devoted to preserving the history of the DC-3 brought the 1937 aircraft as part of a nationwide tour.

“We love to remind people of what flying was like in the 1930s,” said David Gorrell, of Park City, Utah.

Members of the public can climb aboard the plane from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Anyone who joins the sponsoring nonprofit will get a chance to join a sightseeing flight at 5 p.m. Annual cost of membership is $150.

The gleaming metal, twin-engine plane touched down about 1:30 p.m. after making the short flight from Kalispell, Mont.

“It’s a real reward to get a mastery of this plane,” said Gorrell, a retired American Airlines pilot.

Christened the Flagship Detroit, the plane was the 34th in a fleet of 82 DC-3s purchased by American Airlines from Douglas Aircraft Corp. of California. Each was named after a city served by American.

An older gentleman Thursday took a quick look inside and said, “That brings back a lot of memories. Thank you.”

The plane was purchased by the Flagship Detroit Foundation from Virginia after being used for a mosquito spraying service. It has 49,000 flight hours, a relatively low number for a plane that old, Gorrell said. Some DC-3s have as much as 200,000 hours.

The plane is powered by a pair of twin Wright cyclone engines. It has an updated avionics for instrument flying. The exterior is painted in a vintage American Airlines motif.

With a maximum range of nearly 1,400 miles, the DC-3 was the backbone of American Airlines during an era when plane travel was growing quickly.

Felts Field, Spokane’s original airport built during the era, is providing an appropriate backdrop for the tour.

The plane can carry 21 passengers with a crew of two pilots and attendant.

It typically flies below an altitude of 10,000 feet because it does not have a modern pressurized cabin.

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