SASKATOON – It doesn’t look like much right now, but the Douglas DC-3 aircraft unloaded in Saskatoon has a distinguished history. Every bullet hole, bump and bend has a story.
“It was built in 1942 and it first of all went to the American Army Air Corps. After that it went to Australia and dropped paratroopers into the Solomon Islands against the Japanese. There’s probably a few bullet holes that have been well patched and well painted over. But, it has quite the history there,” said Don Macpherson, vice-president of the Saskatchewan Aviation Historical Society.
After the Second World War, the DC-3 became an airline carrier, travelling all over the world and eventually landing in Canada.
The aircraft was retired in 1996 at Points North, but that wasn’t its final resting place.
“Saskatoon is the aviation capital of the province. This is where the Saskatchewan Aviation Historical Society is building its interpretive centre, learning centre, and museum right over there. This is going to be our crown jewel,” said Macpherson.
The plane was donated by the Points North Group and volunteer efforts from TransWest Air and Northern Resource Trucking helped disassemble and haul the aircraft.
The Saskatchewan Aviation Historical Society has been organizing the plane’s journey south for two years.
Pilot Dorrin Wallace said it’s been a labour of love.
“I flew a lot of airplanes and I will tell you this much, it was my favourite airplane and this was one of my favourite projects in my semi-retirement, to see this airplane in viewable condition so other people can enjoy it.”
The aircraft was the last working DC-3 in Saskatchewan and for many pilots the model holds nostalgic value.
“DC-3 was a starting point for a lot of people. I probably myself have worked with fifty pilots who eventually started in a DC-3 and went to airlines. So all over the world people started on these things and in particular in Saskatchewan,” said Wallace.
Organizers and volunteers are now tasked with re-assembling and restoring the aircraft in time for the grand opening of the new Saskatchewan Aviation Museum next fall.