After a very successful 2011 Air Show season throughout the USA,
culminating in appearances at the MacDill AFB Florida Air Fest, the
Stuart Road to Victory Air Show in November and the recent Ferrari
Owners Convention in Palm Beach, the Flagship Detroit has settled here
for a few months of cleaning, polishing and light maintenance.
While sitting on the Witham ramp, the airplane has attracted many
lookers and visitors to view the airplane during times when the crew was
out there working on it. But this unique and historic aircraft has been
in the spotlight many times.
Five years ago, when the restoration was completed making it the
oldest DC-3 still flying, the Flagship Detroit was featured in an
article in the August 2006 edition of "Flying," the world's most widely
read aviation magazine. Then again, in the August 2010 edition of the
same magazine, the Flagship Detroit was featured on the front cover as
part of an article celebrating the 75th anniversary of the DC-3.
The DC-3 was the brainchild of C.R. Smith, then-president of American
Airlines, and developed by Douglas Aircraft, which would later become
McDonnell Douglas. Smith wanted a plane that could fly more passengers
more comfortably, and from New York to Chicago without stopping. Smith
got what he wanted, and the airline industry changed forever.
The first group of DC-3s delivered to American were sleepers (DST,
Douglas Sleeper Transport) with 14 berths for overnight, five-stop,
transcontinental service. The remaining DC-3s delivered to American were
21-passenger "day plane” versions like the Flagship Detroit. American
adopted a nautical theme for its DC-3s, calling them "Flagships” and
naming them after the city or state served. Flagship Detroit was the
21st off the assembly line and officially joined the American Airlines
fleet in March of 1937 and is now the oldest flying DC-3 in the world
out of almost 14,000 DC-3s and C-47s (the military version) built.
The airplane flew for American airlines from 1937 to 1947. In time,
ownership of the Flagship Detroit passed to corporate hands and the
airplane became a light freighter and agricultural sprayer. It was
located in Virginia, and purchased by the Flagship Detroit Foundation in
August 2004. The plane has been restored to exactly how it looked in
The Flagship Detroit Foundation is a nonprofit group of dedicated men
and women who have committed to make the personal and financial
commitment to promote awareness of American's remarkable history and
preserve its legacy. The Foundation's goal is to continue operating and
maintaining this aircraft as a flying tribute to all American Airlines
employees, past and present.
She will take to the skies once again on Saturday, Feb. 4, and has
invited any local resident interested in becoming a member of the
Flagship Detroit Foundation to come along for an historic "heritage”
flight. The flight will be from Stuart to Sebastian and back in
conjunction with the LoPresti First Saturday Charity Fly In Breakfast at
Sebastian Airport. The guest speaker at the Fly In will be Gene
McNeeley, AT-6 Aerobatic Performance Pilot and Reno Air Racer who will
be sharing stories of his exciting flying career.
Those who purchase a tax-deductible membership for $150 in the
Flagship Detroit Foundation will be invited to fly to the LoPresti Fly
In Breakfast on Feb. 4 and will also be invited to ride on the aircraft
during positioning flights for a period of a year.
For information on the Feb. 4 Fly In to Sebastian Airport and general
membership information, please contact Capt. Tony DeSantis (AA, Ret) at
772-486-2831. Visit us at http://www.flagshipdetroit.org/
.This story is contributed by a member of the Treasure Coast community and is neither endorsed nor affiliated with TCPalm.com