On the 4th of July, I was taking it easy at home, watching the idiot box. My dad called me from his work. He's a volunteer at a large Dutch aviation museum. He told me that one of the Dutch registered DC-3s would be doing a training flight, and that he was able to get me on for 25 euro's. The flight would leave in 90 minutes so I had to hurry. I had flown the other Dutch registered DC-3, the PH-DDZ, 4 times before, but had never flown on her sister, the PH-PBA!
Naturally I wasn't turning down the offer, and quickly gathered my stuff. I had left my own (semi-decent) camera at my dorm room, and so I quickly grabbed an old point-and-shoot camera to take the necessary pictures! I got in the car and headed towards the museum, located at Lelystad Airport. LEY is about a 30-40 minute drive, but luckily there was little traffic on the road and I got there well in time. Dad waited for me and we headed to the replica of the original Schiphol airport terminal, where several scenic flights on a variety of aircraft are offered. The PBA was just doing a scenic flight and would be landing shortly. I got in line with other volunteers of the museum who managed to get a seat on the flight.
After paying for the ticket, I got seat 6A. The PBA holds 18 pax in a full-first class config, with 2-1 seating. My dad got seat 6C, the one next to me. After a short wait outside the PH-PBA pulled up to offload the passengers of the scenic flight.
She's a beauty!
Parked in front of the "old" terminal
A little history on the PH-PBA. The PBA was built in 1942. She served as a C-47A during the war. She participated at the D-Day drop over St Mere-Eglise, and in Operation Market Garden. One of her most famous passengers, was Private John Steele. Pvt Steele is known because of his unfortunate parachute landing at St. Mere-Eglise. He was the paratrooper who's parachute got stuck at the village's church tower. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Steele_%28paratrooper%29) To think I was on the same plane as this brave soldier who jumped over France, 66 years ago!
She also participated with 200 other C-47's in an airbridge, to medevac wounded soldiers. After the war, Prince Bernard acquired her from the American's, and she was used as a Dutch governmental aircraft. After retirement she spent years in the old Aviodome museum at AMS, only to be restored to airworthiness by the Prince Bernard Alpha foundation. Hence the registration, PBA. She is operated by the Dutch Dakota Association, and is a regular guest at airshows. She's currently painted in a hybrid livery as you might have noticed in the pictures. One half is in Air France colors, the other one in KLM colors! The same could be said for the F-ATZE, but she has been painted back in full AF colors. I think I heard a rumour that the PBA will be restored in classic KLM colors soon.
Anyhow, back to the report!
Just parked in front of the terminal
Love the desert filters on the R-1830 Twin Wasp!
Dad connecting the stairs
Dutch flag in the tail
After all the pax got off, she was turned 180 degrees, in order for her to taxi out on her own power.
Love this sight!
A nice classic AF paint on the starboard side!
Look how high up the cockpit is!
A quick glimpse at some of the other planes in the museum, a neptune, C-47 and the tail of the KLM 742SUD can be seen.
The PH-OFA, recently donated to the museum by KLM! Waiting for a pair of written off engines
Time for boarding! The "French" tail section
As seen from behind
Man she looks good!
The Dutch tail
I was happy to see we'd be using the original DC-3 airstairs, for that added DC-3 feeling!
We were welcomed on board by the flight attendant, and took our seat in the last row. Walking up this plane's aisle feels like climbing a mountain! We took our seats in the very large and comfortable first class seats. The interior is in mint condition, and had a lovely "old plane" smell. Although it was very hot inside due to the lack of air conditioning. The interior is more luxurious then sistership the PHDDZ, who flies with 24 economy seats in 2-2 seating. Before departure, traditional Dutch candy "Hopjes" were distributed.
Photo © Luis Rosa
2 LEY roundtrips
5th/6th time on type, 1st/2nd time on this plane.
Quick peek from the window, with the PHBUK in the background
After everyone got settled, I heard the distinct sound of the fuel pumps being activated. Engine 2 was started and number 1 followed without hesitation. I think she was quieter then the DDZ on the inside. We taxied out and made the first couple of turns with differential breaking. Once we cleared the museum area, all turns were done with differential power. (The DC-3 does not have tailwheel steering) After a short taxi we reached RWY 23 and since the engines were still warm, the extensive runup checks were not necessary. Takeoff power was set, and with a beautiful powerful roar, the PW R1830 twin wasp's came to life! We lifted off in no time even though it was pretty hot.
Take-off video, I will never get enough of that sound!
We rotated in no time, and we got lifted from the ground as the tail came loose. After a very short climb we leveled off at 750ft
The engine, and the airport can be seen, while turning left on downwind. Count the rivets!
Spot the KLM jet!
Turning for base-leg!
As seen from the other side
During the flight we got kicked around a little due to the turbulence. A lot of yaw movement as well. A slight crosswind, and hot weather, caused us to float down. We bounced 3 times before coming to a full stop. I love the squeeking of the tires! RWY23
While on the ground we taxied back to the threshold of RWY23. My foldable tray table and the safety card
After positioning on the runway, engines were run to take-off power before releasing the brakes. A very powerful takeoff
Leveling off at 750FT
Airport visible while turning for finals RW23
Final landing video
Taxiing back to the museum
At the hangar
After parking I had a chance to visit the cockpit. I walked up the sloped aisle to the navigator area
Cockpit, great condition
You can see a Fokker S11 and world's only flying DC-2 in the hangar
Yours truly, though I think I have my eyes closed
One more look at the KLM side!
And the Air France side!
See you next time PBA Grumman Tracker and F100 visible as well.
Though only about 5 minutes per flight, these 2 flights were well worth driving to LEY! She's now the oldest plane I flew, seconded by the PH-DDZ and G-AKIF. The DC-3 is a blast to fly on and I hope to have them around for many years to come. The smell, the sound, and the feeling of the plane, is just amazing. Combined with the significant history of this plane, makes for a great experience!
The PBA and the DDZ
Photo © Mathias Henig
Photo © Mathias Henig
I hope you liked this (short) report. I want to say thanks to the people at the DDA and the Aviodrome, and to my dad, for getting me on the PBA!
Thanks for reading and any comments are always welcome!