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Douglas DC-3

DC-3's at a Northern Gravel Strip, Summer of 2006

General History

The Douglas DC-3, otherwise known as a C-47, Dakota, or Gooney Bird, made its first flight on December 17, 1935, over sixty years ago. Since that day, DC-3’s have been flying all over the world, hauling freight and passengers to every corner of the globe. This aircraft went into production at a time of war, the second World War.

Because of this, the durable airplane saw service with many of the world's air forces. The versatility of the DC-3 allowed it to be used for hauling freight and troops, paratroopers, and one airplane, affectionately called "Puff the Magic Dragon" was outfitted with many gun turrets and used to keep enemies at bay.

In the days during the war when development of gliders was taking place for military roles, one DC-3 even had its engines removed and was test-flown as a glider. It turned out that this airplane would even glide farther than the aircraft that were developed at that time strictly to be used as gliders. The DC-3 is truly a remarkable aircraft, and even though times have changed, the DC-3 has found it's place in a more peaceful world.

Modernized DC-3 Cockpit

Comfortable DC-3 Passenger Cabin

The Douglas DC-3 was one of the first airplanes to be put into service with most of the major airlines we recognize today. As a very warm and comfortable airplane, the DC-3 has always shined in the area of passenger comfort. One of the first airline versions of this airplane was called the Douglas Sleeper Transport. This model, the DST, was fitted with a number of bunks allowing the passengers to get some sleep on their night-time flight across the United States.

Other versions of the DC-3 were fitted with equipment for such roles as: aerial bug and crop spraying, navigation trainers, ice patrols, aerial mapping and geophysical surveying, fire bombing, and checking navigational beacons and instrument approach systems.


From the warmest deserts, to the coldest, snow-covered north and south poles, the DC-3 has been everywhere. Traveling at 170 miles per hour (274 km/h), Buffalo Airways DC-3s can haul 7000 pounds of freight or 27 passengers to destinations throughout the Canadian North. That is not to say that these aircraft always stay close to home, as they have flown from one end of Canada to the other, south into the United States, and as far north as Greenland.

The Douglas DC-3s at Buffalo Airways normally operate on wheels, but when it comes time to land on the snow-covered lakes of the Canadian North, some of the aircraft have the wheels removed, and replaced with skis. As well, although Buffalo does not operate any DC-3s on floats, some were operated on floats in the military to allow landing directly on the water. The Douglas DC-3 is truly a versatile airplane.

Nose Art on C-GPNR

Undoubtedly, as time goes on and we develop ways to travel further, faster, higher, and you yourself perhaps will travel into the depths of outer space, one thing for certain still remains; back here on Earth, the Douglas DC-3 will never stop flying.

DC3 Engine

Douglas DC3 Wikipedia Page
DC-3 Aircraft Specs
Passenger Load 27 Passengers or
Combination Passengers / Cargo
Cargo Load 7,000 lbs
Speed 150 mph (block speed)
Range 1200 Statute Miles
Fuel Burn 90 imp gal/hr
Type of Undercarriage Wheels / Wheel Skis
Navigation Equipment Full IFR including GPS
Minimum Landing Requirements 2500 feet
Minimum Take-Off Requirements 2500 feet
Minimum Ice Thickness for Ice Strip 20 inches
WEIGHTS Gross Weight 26,900 lbs
Maximum Landing Weight 26,900 lbs
Empty Weight (typical) 17,500 lbs
DIMENSIONS Wing Span 95'-0"
Length 64'-5"
Height to Top of Fin 16'-11"
Height 5'-0"
Width 8'-1" (max)
Entrance Door 6'-8" x 5'-0"
FUEL CAPACITY Aircraft Capacity 670 Imp. Gallons
Bulk Fuel Tanks 900 Imp. Gallons