About the DC3

The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made. Many DC-3s are still used in all parts of the world.

Design and development
The DC-3 was the culmination of a development effort that originated out of an inquiry from Transcontinental and Western Airlines (TWA) to Donald Douglas. TWA’s rival in transcontinental air service, United Airlines, was inaugurating service with the Boeing 247 and Boeing refused to sell any 247s to other airlines until United’s order for 60 aircraft had been filled.[2] TWA asked Douglas to design and build an aircraft that would enable TWA to compete with United. Douglas’ resulting design, the 1933 DC-1, was promising, and led to the DC-2 in 1934. While the DC-2 was a success, there was still room for improvement.

The DC-3 was the result of a marathon telephone call from American Airlines CEO C. R. Smith to Donald Douglas, during which Smith persuaded a reluctant Douglas to design a sleeper aircraft based on the DC-2 to replace American’s Curtiss Condor II biplanes. Douglas only agreed to go ahead with development after Smith informed him of American’s intention to purchase twenty aircraft. The new aircraft was engineered by a team led by chief engineer Arthur E. Raymond over the next two years, and the prototype DST (for Douglas Sleeper Transport) first flew on December 17, 1935 (the 32nd anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina). A version with 21 passenger seats instead of the sleeping berths of the DST was also designed and given the designation DC-3. There was no prototype DC-3, the first DC-3 built followed seven DSTs off the production line and was delivered to American.

A Douglas DC-3 (a former military C-47B) of Air Atlantique taking off at Hullavington airfield, England.The amenities of the DC-3 and DST popularized air travel in the United States. With only three refueling stops, eastbound transcontinental flights crossing the U.S. in approximately 15 hours became possible. Westbound trips took 17-1/2 hours due to prevailing headwinds — still a significant improvement over the competing Boeing 247. During an earlier era, such a trip would entail short hops in slower and shorter-range aircraft during the day, coupled with train travel overnight.

Total production of the DC-3 was 16,079.More than 400 remained in commercial service in 1998. Production of DC-3s ceased in 1942, military versions were produced until the end of the war in 1945. In 1949, a larger, more powerful Super DC-3 was launched to positive reviews; however, the civilian market was flooded with second-hand C-47s, many of which were converted to passenger and cargo versions of DC-3s, and only three were built and delivered the following year. The prototype Super DC-3 served the US Navy with the designation YC-129 alongside 100 C-47s that had been upgraded to the Super DC-3 specification.

The oldest DC-3 still flying is the original American Airlines Flagship Detroit (c/n 1920, #43 off the Santa Monica production line), which can be seen at airshows around the United States and is owned and operated by the nonprofit Flagship Detroit Foundation.

Source: Wikipedia

Airscapade New Zealand

Book now!

14 days around New Zealand at 3000 feet !

Step back half a century and relive the glorious age of pioneer aviation while surrounded by some of the world’s most stunning scenery.

Book now!
An Air Cruise around Antipodean Paradise in the Matriarch of the Skies
Relax and enjoy the flight in the morning over some of the most stunning scenery in the world, get out and feel it under your feet in the afternoon, that is the Airscapade concept, while adding fine dining and top notch charming accommodation to complete the package.. And for further flexibility, those unable to partake of the whole 14 day tour can choose the number of legs, on a per day basis, (if space available)
This tour is not for people who want to get around NZ quickly in a private jet. No, the DC3 is a majestic old girl, legend of the skies and this tour is for those who appreciate her as such, flying at low altitudes, taking advantage of the panoramic windows and enjoying the vibrant throb of the radial engines.
A variety of natural wonders, cultural insights and contact with historic aviation sites in New Zealand – all carefully chosen to fit into a relaxed timetable with regular 2 night stays.
All included, we have breakfast provided by the hotel, a light lunch either on board or upon arrival, and then fine dining evening meals either at our hotel or a nearby restaurant.
We have selected some of the finest accommodation in NZ, but where possible, in keeping with the style and period of the DC3. Always with ensuite facilities we have chosen smaller rather than large hotels.
All included, and we have decided to have a minibus travel in parallel with the plane in case of weather that would make the journey unsafe or unpleasant, thus preventing disruption to the schedule.
Consult the insert / website for the current dates and prices – fuel being a large component of this air cruise there can be changes during a season. However once a deposit is received, the price is guaranteed. To make a reservation a deposit of 25% is required, with the balance being due no later than 30 days before Day 1.Cancellation Fees :
It is recommended that each participate take out a travel insurance policy to cover both cancellation fees and possible medical costs.




Arrival in the economic capital of the country. Depending on individual arrival times, visit of the waterfront and the Kelly Tarlton Underwater world, the town centre and university area, the historic district of Parnell and an overview from Mt Eden. As time permits, a visit to the Motat museum of Transport and Technology will enable enthusiasts to see some great old planes including the only remaining Short Solent IV gradually being restored.


Rotorua 1 hr.

A relatively short flight to Rotorua, possibly with a detour to overfly volcanic White Island. Rotorua is the heart of both the North Island Maori community and the wild geothermal activity as well as the hometown of Jean Batten, the first person to fly from England to New Zealand in 1936.


Rotorua 0 hr.

Visits here include various geo-thermal sites such as Whakarewarewa and its geysers, and Waiotapu with its rainbow of colours, the Agrodome (sheep show for a bit of light entertainment), the mighty Huka Falls and NZ’s largest lake, Taupo. A Maori traditional dinner (hangi) and concert to top off the day.


Wellington 2h.

Flying over the 15 lakes of the Rotorua region, lake Taupo the 3 volcanoes of the centre of the North Island provide an impressive backdrop on the route to the capital. A possible visit to the Southward Car Museum – a great collection, followed by a visit of the capitals highlights – the beehive parliament, the cable car, Mt Victoria for a great view.


Blenheim 0.5h.

A fairly short but very picturesque flight out of Wellington, across Cook Strait, and the Marlborough Sounds to then reach Blenheim. Not only is this one of NZ’s top wine growing areas but it has a the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, a superb WW1 museum that is a must.


Cook/Twizel 2h.

Onwards to the centre of the island with the highest peak, Mt Cook at 3754 and the chain of mountains known as the Southern Alps. The park visitor centre is full of information and for those keen, a walk in the national park over to the Tasman Glacier or Kea Point


Wanaka 1hr.

A mixture of glacial and rainwater lakes provides contrasting colours, against a relatively dry landscape on the eastern side of the mountain ranges. The hydro-electric activity is omnipresent, between canals and dams, before reaching greener pastures around the southern lakes. Wanaka is the home of the famous biennial Warbirds over Wanaka show and has an excellent little museum. Delightfully nestled between the lake, mountains and river, Wanaka is one of the most picturesque stopovers.


Te Anau 1h.

Overflying lakes Wanaka, Hawea and Wakatipu, Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park, the largest in the country and of course the famous fjords.


Te Anau 0h.


Hokitika 1.5h.


Nelson 1h.


Nelson 0h.


Napier 3h.


Auckland 1h.

Total of 14 hours of flying very approximately

This tour may also fly in the opposite direction originating in Christchurch. Whereas every effort will be made to maintain the programme as described, as with all old planes, participants should be aware that both weather and technical issues can give an element of adventure to an air cruise. A minibus will follow the route as an alternative in case of unavoidable air delays and will also be an option for those wanting to do some of the route by land from time to time. There may also be minor alterations to the route and programme in order to take advantage of weather, special events and other opportunities that arise.