The Douglas DC-3 made its maiden flight on 17 December 1935. The Douglas DC-3 is a fixed-wing propeller-driven airliner. With a cruise speed of207 mph or 333 km/h and range (1,500 mi or 2,400 km, which revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting effect on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made. The DC-3 was a twin-engine metal monoplane, developed as a larger, improved 14-bed sleeper version of the Douglas DC-2. It had many exceptional qualities compared to previous aircraft. It was fast, had a good range and could operate from short runways. Its construction was all-metal. It was reliable, easy to maintain and carried passengers in greater comfort. Before the war it pioneered many air travel routes. It was able to cross the continental United States, making transcontinental flights and worldwide flights possible, and is considered the first airliner that could make money by carrying passengers alone.
Civil DC-3 production ended in 1942 with 607 aircraft being produced. However, together with its military derivative, the C-47 Skytrain (designated the Dakota in RAF Service), and with Russian- and Japanese-built versions, over 16,000 were built. Following the Second World War, the airliner market was flooded with surplus C-47s and other transport aircraft. Sadly attempts to produce an upgraded super DC-3 were a failure and the DC-3 was soon made redundant on main routes by more advanced types such as the Douglas DC-6 and Lockheed Constellation, however the design continued to prove exceptionally adaptable and useful and Large numbers continue to see service in a wide variety of niche roles well into the 21st century.
Approximately 400 DC-3s and converted C-47s are still flying to this day many examples being over 70 years old and There are small operators with DC-3s in daily use as revenue service and as cargo aircraft. The aircraft’s legendary ruggedness has been described as “a collection of parts flying in loose formation.” Its ability to use grass or dirt runways makes it popular in developing countries, where runways are not always paved. Current uses of the DC-3 include aerial spraying, freight transport, passenger service, military transport, missionary flying, skydiver shuttling and sightseeing. The oldest surviving DST is N133D, the sixth Douglas Sleeper Transport built in 1936. This aircraft was delivered to American Airlines on July 12, 1936 as NC16005. The aircraft is at Shell Creek Airport (F13), Punta Gorda, Florida. The oldest DC-3 still flying is the original American Airlines Flagship Detroit (c/n 1920, #34 off the Santa Monica production line).