Congratulations to the winners of our Pilot for a Day Contest!
I was born and raised in Cochabamba, Bolivia. My mom worked her entire life for LAB, the national airline, so I grew up surrounded by aviation. Going to visit my mom at her office in the local airport is my fondest memory growing up; I would spend hours just watching the airplanes take-off and landed. at that time most of the airplanes were Boeing 727s, but my favorite ones to watch were always the Cargo DC-3s and DC-6s, which would transport meat from the country/jungle areas into the city. There was always something special about seeing those big props slowly coming down for a touchdown. I don’t think any of those are still in operation today, the last cargo DC-3 that I recall seeing flying was in 2002, and yes it was still hauling meat into the city. My passion for aviation was such that I moved to the United States to pursue a career as a pilot, but unfortunately the tragic events of 9/11 derailed that dream because I was not a US citizen and could not complete all the necessary flight training. I still wanted to be involved with aviation, so I completed my aerospace engineering degree and today I get to work on the brand new Boeing 787. Last week, after having lived in the US for the past 15 years I had the honor and privilege to become a US citizen. One of the things that I have always loved about this country is that anything is possible if you put the effort into it. Seeing a DC-3 in such an excellent condition and best of all flying through the Historic Flight Foundation truly represents that American spirit that I am so glad to be a part of. Having the opportunity to fly the DC-3 for a day would be an honor and a child’s dream come true. Thank you for the opportunity, but primarily thank you for keeping such a beautiful legend flying!
In high school, my best friend and I both had dreams of attending the Air Force Academy together and becoming pilots. This fascination went all the way back to my grade school days where I sent NASA letters letting them know I was going to be the astronaut of the next generation. (You have to make those contacts early, right?) My best friend ended up making it with strong grades and after graduating from the Academy, she still has a successful carrier as a pilot. I ended up playing sports and being drawn to tech and the startup life (a different kind of risk to be sure)! So I never realized my dream of being a pilot but I love flying and hope to someday get a pilot license as a hobby. When I saw this contest, I had to enter since it was just too perfect to think about being able to get into this amazing plane. And have something to tell my best friend from high school, of course
My father was a 1st Lieutenant in the 317th Troop Carrier Group, 41st Squadron during World War 2. He was a pilot on the C-47 (Military version of the DC3) during 1944 and 1945 in the Pacific. I believe that this contest truly speaks through me to my father; he was flying this airplane around 70 years ago and could have the chance to fly it again. Growing up with my Father he told many stories of his service during WWII, one being his flight from Clark Field in Luzon, Philippines to Tokyo, Japan. This flight consisted of taking communications equipment to the USS Missouri for the surrender of the Japanese. My Father wrote a detailed account in which he described this very flight. August 17, 1945, we flew from Clark Strip #4 in Luzon to Naha, Okinawa. My memory fails me on whether the 317th moved to Okinawa that day or just the 24 planes. We landed and were told to stay with our planes night and day. We slept on our cots under the wings of our plane ready for immediate departure when orders came. At first we were unsure of the reason but it became apparent when our planes began to be loaded with Signal Corp Communication equipment. There were 24 planes from the 317th TCG involved and were led by Colonel John Lackey. Our planes were loaded with just enough fuel to reach Atsugi Field in Japan in order for each plane to carry additional equipment. DC-3s followed us later with fuel for the return flight. The crew on my plane came from the different Squadrons and unfortunately I don’t remember who they were. Early in the morning of August 28, 1945, we were notified to get ready to leave and took off at 2:30 AM. We did not fly in any particular formation. The flight itself was uneventful except for flying thru a series of small weather fronts. We arrived offshore of Japan at daybreak with snow covered Mt. Fuji in the distance. I will always remember this as one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever experienced. My plane was the first to arrive at Atsugi and was in the landing pattern but was given orders to slip back in line and let Colonel Lackey lead the flight in. We ended up as the 5th plane to land, much to our disappointment. There was general apprehension among us as to what we might expect on landing as there had not been any direct communication on how we would be received. The sight of hundreds of Japanese Navy Guards lining the strip was not particularly encouraging. We landed and were directed where to park and immediately Japanese military trucks backed up to the planes and proceeded to unload the equipment. We had been enemies during the war but after landing it was as though nothing had happened. The Japanese had prepared a big welcoming banquet for us. Our crew decided that we would miss the banquet, leave early, and take advantage of daylight to fly over Nagasaki. What an awesome sight. The destruction was incredible, the city destroyed and the burnt trees extended far up the hillsides. Missing the banquet was well worth it for us even if the memories are still haunting. The remaining planes returned to Okinawa later in the day. Fred Charles 1st Lieutenant 41st. My Father will be turning 90 this next February and I believe the chance to fly the DC3 one last time would be the experience of a lifetime. There is no other person I could picture better for this contest and who is more deserving than my Father Fred Charles. He served his country and flew this historic airplane during WWII. He has an abundance of memories and history with this plane and I think that the fact he is so familiar with this aircraft makes him the perfect candidate for this opportunity. Myself, my father and mother (A Rosie the Riveter) have worked at The Boeing Company for over 80 years. Another reason I think my Father deserves a chance to fly this historic aircraft is the fact that our family has worked with this company and my father’s military service makes this story an even more compelling reason to choose him as one of the contest winners. In conclusion, I truly hope that you will consider my father for this once in a lifetime opportunity in flying the historic and amazing DC3.Thank you
Hi, The sight of this airplane in the Herald brought back memories. I was born and raised in East Germany on a small farm near the polish border. In 1952 my parents could no longer endure the political situation. They decided to escape to West Berlin leaving everything behind. My mother and us 5 girls ages 1-15 made it across the border. My Dad was not so lucky and got caught and put in jail. My Mother and us children were in the Berlin Tempelhof refuge camp with 100′ds of others. We were eventually flown to Frankfurt in West Germany by the Americans. I was 11, so I am not quite clear if this was the precise aircraft but I do remember it had propellers, it was the first time I ever even saw an aircraft. It was our flight to Freedom and began a new life for us in West Germany. I eventually married an American soldier and immigrated to the USA, we will celebrate our 50th in 2015, I became an American Citizen in 1973. This is an awesome country there is no other in the World like it.
Sincerely, Ursula Denison.
If it wasn’t for a DC-3 I might never have been born. My dad, Captain Mac McKelvey, began his flying as a 16 year old barnstormer in 1926 in a small town in Illinois. He earned his aeronautical engineering degree and then joined the navy where he was a flight instructor in a Stearman. After leaving the navy he flew in South America for a year with Pan American Grace where he saw an ad from United Airlines back in the states. He signed on in 1938. He was flying a DC-3 from Chicago to North Platte where a stewardess bummed $1 from him for carfare to go see her mom. Yes, that was my mom. She paid him back with 64 years of marriage. Mom was a registered nurse, which you had to be at that time to fly. She chose to fly because nurses made $90 a month and “stews” were paid $135. She told me that the DC-3 had 12 bunks for passengers and two lounges. ” My job was to make up the bunks, feed the passengers, and check their tickets.” On one trip to Omaha there was only one passenger. They had such bone jarring turbulence that he clung to mom so tightly that she was black and blue. Mom and Dad were married in 1940. I came along in 1950, one of six kids. Mom and Dad are both gone now. The are buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. On their beautiful headstone is etched a DC-3 with the words “Together We Fly”. I miss my folks, and it would be a great privilege if I were selected to fly in the plane that led to my birth and a lifelong love of flying.
They called it the “Vomit Comet”. We were young teachers on an “adventure”. The DC-3 was our transport to another world. The planes had canvas strips along the sides. Cargo and often goats, sheep, and chickens were strapped in the center between pasengers. Because of the sheer drop of the Ethiopian escarpment, we always looked for disposal air bags when we boarded. But what we saw when we landed! Indigo robed, 5-foot Anuaks in Gambala, 20-foot crocs viewed from a dugout canoe on the Baro River, tropical rainforests with the small, leaf-clad forest people in Godere. We traded with lip-plated people, visited missionaries living in grass thatched houses, drank boiled, filtered brown water. There were tribal feasts, treks in the forest while carrying a baby baboon, meals of crocodile tail…All this was because of the DC-3–the main transport to remote places. There was one DC-3 day we will never forget. We took off from Jimma (Ethiopia) flying over a tropical rainforest. Suddenly the plane dived and turned. Stewards looked out the window. Gas was pouring out over the wing. The pilot, only 20 minutes from take-off, headed back to the airport and landed. It was a French pilot and he was livid as he exited the plane. What had happened? A local mechanic had been insulted by this pilot the previous week and so had deliberately taken the cap off the gas tank before the plane took off. Had it not been discovered, and if the plane had crashed in the forest, it would probably never have been found. We refueled, took off, and reached our destination…but always we remember the “what if”. DC-3s were not comfortable. Nearly every flight had its unpleasant moments. But we learned to love those workhorse planes. They allowed us to see an amazing world, meet wonderful people, and forever be richer for having experienced the world of Emperor Haile Selassie. Flying a DC-3? What a way that would be to celebrate my 70th birthday month!
Beth Henderson Russell
Oh Wow, This would be one of the best present my husband could ever have. You see he has been trying to get his license for over 20 years, we have never had enough money for him to complete it. To be able to fly this bird,,, would be an experience that would have no real word for it. It was also his 62nd birthday on the 14th, and we again don’t have money to celebrate it. We live within a mile of Paine Field, Boeing and the FHF. We watch the planes take off circle the airport every day, and I know it kills him that he isn’t up there. One of his greatest passions is flying, but with his first passion being his family. Flying has come next. He lost his job a year ago April. We haunt the Historic Flight, and have been to every show they have of the WWI and WWII birds and even got to see the USMC last year when one of the WWII planes couldn’t be flown. I guess I have no other words then THIS would make his year and see his face when he finds out he won. Oh the look, I can’t really imagine it, but I have a fair idea Please please please (not that I am really hoping and wishing for it, or anything like that) The look would be one of a child on Christmas morning, looking at the tree with all the presents under it, and waiting to open it, shaking with excitement,, yeah that is how I see his face
My grandfather, who lives here in Mukilteo, is a retired U.S. Naval Aviator. He told me that when he was very young he flew in the navy version of the DC-3. He then went on to fly several thousand hours in the P3. I think he may have helped me get interested in airplanes. I remember as a little boy he would let me spin the propellers on his model P3. I have been designing and building airplanes with my legos. I have built 747s, 767s, Dreamlifter, and the Concorde. I now have flying radio controlled aircraft and plan to continue doing this. I am eleven years old and I am taking hard courses now through the STEM program to prepare myself to become an aeronautical engineer. I am constantly asking my parents and grandparents to take me to Paine Field so I can watch the planes take off and land. Through my interests I am now able to identify various Boeing, Airbus, and Russian aircraft. I would love to experience flying in the type airplane that my grandfather flew in way back in the 1950s.
My name is Christopher and I am 11 years old. I have loved planes almost my whole life. I think I should be chosen to fly on the DC-3 plane because this is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I want to be a pilot when I grow up. I have been to many Flight Museums across the USA and have been on planes lots of times but I have never gotten to be the pilot. I think this would be a good opportunity for me to have. I am a big airplane fan. Flying and being the pilot on this plane would be so awesome!
I am WW2 vet. I was in combat in Europe with an anti-aircraft Bn. Shot down 18 enemy planes and two of our own. I am 92 yrs old. I don’t drive a car anymore, but flying a DC-3 should be a cinch.
I teach science and video production at Explorer Middle School in Everett. You can see the control tower at Paine Field from the window in my classroom. My students come from the area bordering the east side of the airport. I am always looking for ways to bring the outside world into our classroom as a way to inspire my students. Explorer serves a student population where over 70% receive free or reduced lunches. A majority of my students have never been in a plane. I believe that flying can get them to look up – not only literally, but figuratively. These students need to be given opportunities to dream so that they will be motivated to achieve. If given the chance, I will recount my experience, with photos and video, to my students. I would also take advantage of the possibility of getting some great video from above as we fly over our school and neighborhood. Thank you for your consideration.
Hello. My name is Jeffrey Wheeler. I am a 14 year old who is very interested in becoming a military C-17 pilot when I grow up. When I was younger, I was very interested in WWII. This is because I had always been told that my great grandpa Gerald had flown in a B-25 Mitchell bomber. I was later told that he was the radio operator of a B-25. Since I have grown up here in Everett, I live quite close to Paine field, only about 10 minutes away, in a car. There are advantages to this, because I get to see planes almost every day. And because I want to be a pilot, this is pretty cool. Actually, I already have about 6 hours of flight time registered in my logbook. So if I could get flight time in the DC-3, it would be contributing towards me getting my pilots license. Now this is an amazing opportunity for me, because I really like older aircraft. So, being able to fly in a DC-3 would be awesome. I hope you consider me to be one of the 10 people who get to fly the DC-3 on August 29th.