American Airlines DC3 - Fort Worth Texas
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Geojeepsters
N 32° 49.989 W 097° 03.797
14S E 681274 N 3634451
DC-3 on static display at the C.R. Smith / American Airlines Museum.
Waymark Code: WM5R5K
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 02/05/2009
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member Team GeoDuo
Views: 13

American Airlines inspired the development of the Douglas DC-3, the most significant commercial airplane ever built.

The development of the Douglas DC-3 began in 1934 when C.R. Smith sought an airplane that combined the roominess and comfort of the Curtiss Condor sleeper plane with the speed, safety, and modern features of the Douglas DC-2.

American's chief engineer, Bill Littlewood, and his assistant Otto Kirchner proposed that the DC-2 fuselage be expanded to accommodate sleeperberths for fourteen passengers or seats for twenty-one passengers. To power the larger transport, the two men suggested that the latest 1,000 horsepower Wright R-1820 radial engines be used. C.R. Smith telephoned Donald Douglas, president of Douglas Aircraft, to discuss the idea. With plenty of DC-2 orders already on his books and in his factory, Douglas was reluctant to undertake the project, but Smith eventually convinced him. The result was the Douglas DC-3.

American Airlines operated the Douglas DC-3 from 1936 to 1949. American adopted a nautical theme for its fleet of DC-3s, calling them "Flagships" and naming them for different American Airlines destinations. American operated two versions of the DC-3: the fourteen seat DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) and the twenty-one seat day-plane. Prior to World War II, American Airlines ordered eighty-two DC-3s. In the years immediately after the war, American's fleet of DC-3s grew to a total of ninety-two.

American Airlines accepted delivery of the Flagship Knoxville on March 11, 1940. American used the aircraft for passenger service until April 1942, when it was transferred (i.e. drafted) to the U.S. Army Air Transport Command for wartime service. While serving with the military, the aircraft was converted to carry cargo instead of passengers. On October 11, 1943 the War Department returned the Flagship Knoxville to American Airlines and the aircraft was used for pilot training and cargo duties. The following year, the Flagship Knoxville was over-hauled and converted back to a passenger transport configuration. American sold the Knoxville to Colonial Airlines on May 10, 1948.

Colonial upgraded the engines from the original Wright G102-1820s to more powerful G202-1820s and modified the cabin to accommodate twenty-six passengers. In 1956, Colonial merged with Eastern Airlines and the former Flagship was sold to S&W Motor Lines of Greensboro, North Carolina in the summer of 1957. S&W operated the aircraft until 1972, when it was sold to T.G. Heyward, who used it as a mosquito sprayer in the Hilton Head, South Carolina area. The airplane had a total of 50,949 flying hours when it was retired in 1987 and placed in storage at the Hilton Head Airport.

The Grey Eagles, an organization made up of American Airlines senior and retired pilots, purchased the Flagship Knoxville for exhibit at the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum in November 1991. After considerable effort, the aircraft was ferried from South Carolina to American's Maintenance and Engineering Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Once in Tulsa, the Flagship Knoxville underwent a complete restoration. A group of nearly 250 retirees and volunteers returned the aircraft to its 1940s appearance, both inside and out. The exterior of the aircraft was stripped, polished and painted to emulate its original color scheme. Internally, a new galley and lavatory were installed, the cabin and cockpit windows were replaced and all twenty-one passenger seats reupholstered. Finally, one of the Wright radial engines had to be completely rebuilt. In total, the restoration of the Flagship Knoxville took more than 12,000 man-hours to complete during a twelve-month period.

The Flagship Knoxville's last flight came on May 4, 1993. Piloted by Capt. William S. McCormick and Capt. Ray Newhouse, the aircraft was flown from Tulsa to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Capt. McCormick had previously flown the Flagship Knoxville in the 1940s and had accumulated more than 10,000 flight hours in Douglas DC-3s. From the D/FW Airport, the Flagship Knoxville was disassembled and towed to the C.R. Smith Museum. Lifted into place on the museum's patio by a pair of cranes, the aircraft served as a focal point of the then newly opened museum.

Unfortunately, during the following five years, exposure to Texas weather took a terrible toll on the Flagship Knoxville's markings and fabric covered control surfaces. The aircraft was removed from its perch in front of the C.R. Smith Museum on February 9, 1998 and towed to the American Airlines maintenance facility at D/FW Airport. A team of volunteers and American employees completed a second restoration of the Flagship Knoxville in the fall of 1998. The aircraft returned to the museum and was lifted into its specially built "hangar" in November 1998. The cost of the constructing the Flagship Knoxville's 10,000 sq. foot glass exhibit pavilion was supported by the sale of thousands of engraved bricks that make up its floor. Preserved and protected in its new home, the Flagship Knoxville continues to serve as a tangible reminder of American Airlines' early history and the golden age of World War II-era commercial air transportation.

Type of Aircraft: (make/model): DC-3

Construction:: original aircraft

Location (park, airport, museum, etc.): Museum

inside / outside: inside

Tail Number: (S/N): Not listed

Other Information:: Not listed

Access restrictions: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Photo of aircraft (required - will be interesting to see if the aircraft is ever repainted or progress if being restored)
Photo of serial number (required unless there is not one or it is a replica)
Photo(s) of any artwork on the aircraft (optional but interesting)

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