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The DC-3 is among the world’s best known, best loved aircraft. Conceived in 1932, it was sturdy, reliable, economical, comfortable and safe, and it served the world’s airlines for decades. Today, almost seventy years after it first flew, the DC-3’s useful life is far from over. At Bankstown Airport in Sydney, Australia, Dakota National Air has seven examples – one of the largest fleets of operational DC-3 aircraft anywhere in the world, taking passengers on aerial adventures ranging from one hour scenic flights to ten day outback safaris.
In this programme, we join the DC-3 airliner VH-MIN as it lands at Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia. The crew consists of Captain Jack Curtis, a seasoned veteran who has spent 7000 hours in the cockpit of the DC-3 and First Office Chris Lin, a young pilot at the beginning of his commercial flying career. A guided tour of the cockpit follows Jack making the point that apart from the autopilot, which has been removed, all the instruments and controls are exactly as they were on the original aircraft. Despite its age, VH-MIN is operated to the most exacting modern air transport standards. The only addition is GPS.
We then go on a local training flight. Five broadcast quality cameras and high quality sound direct from the aircraft’s intercom cover all cockpit actions and procedures as Jack and Chris work through the prescribed checklist, start the engines, taxi out, take off and fly a circuit. We then taxi back to the terminal and the engines are shut down.