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The Aircraft That Changed the World

DC-3 on Display At Republic Airport

Massapequa resident James Rhodes was among the 10 Dowling College aviation students who recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the DC-3.

Rhodes and his fellow students noted how the DC-3 launched a revolution in air travel, changing how the world travels.

The aircraft and its designers were honored with a celebratory taxi run on the runway at Republic Airport loaded with Dowling students and aviation business leaders.

The museum’s military version of the DC-3 is the only operational one of its kind in the New York tri-state area and represents one of nearly 11,000 created by Douglas Aircraft Company and other manufacturers licensed to build it. It is based at Republic Airport and offers flight experiences through the year.

 On Dec. 17, 1935, 32 years to the day after the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Douglas Aircraft Co. test pilots lifted the first DC-3 off the runway in Santa Monica, CA. By 1936 it began transporting passengers between Chicago Municipal Airport (renamed Midway) and Newark, which like today served the New York market.

Passengers paid $47.19 for the four hour flight that was operated by Flagship Illinois. Within three years, 95 percent of all passengers in the US were flying on DC-2s or DC-3s. By December 1941, on the eve of war, Douglas had delivered 507 DC-3s of which 434 had gone to airlines. By the end of World War II production hit a high of one aircraft every 34 minutes or some 10,654 military models of the DC-3.

Among the elements that led to the legendary DC-3 being the most successful aircraft ever built was its ability to be enormously cost effective for those airlines operating it, a reliability that was unprecedented and the means to offer aircraft standardization that today’s profitable airlines, such as Southwest, continue to use as a model.