Tag Archives: Before Interstate Freeways


. . . and ushered in a new era for humankind. 

The inimitable Douglas DC-3, the airliner that changed the way the world traveled back in the mid to late 1930s, and that doggedly remains with us to this day (see 2nd video below), delivering cargo and people, often into places other more modern aircraft cannot safely fly.

The following video is from a promotional film from one of that famous airliner’s biggest customer-users, AMERICAN AIRLINES.

Your webmaster’s first ride on a DC-3 was beyond memorable.  It was back in 1948, when this airliner was still going strong.

I was visiting from the suburbs of Chicago, where I had lived most my life, and vacationing at my Grandmother’s in Hollywood, CA,, when I was suddenly wired by Western Union (remember those telegrams?) to report for my College Navy ROTC Physical Exam in NYC – – – in only a week.

I’d driven my car from Chicago for my first visit to California and it had taken me a grueling two week’s time to make the journey.  There was simply no way I could pack things up and report in NYC in only a week.

So, I immediately sold my car to a local dealer (I’d always sold autos on my own, after refurbishing them, for a handy profit) in a hurry, booked a ticket to Chicago with American Airlines, and flew back home to Chicago – – – on my first long airline flight, and in none other than that inimitable one-and-only Douglas DC-3!

When driving around CA and the LA area, we’d always honked whenever we saw another Illinois license plate drive by.  Interstate Freeways were still but a dream.  When I arrived in Chicago, I quickly reached over and honked my Mom’s horn at other passing cars – – – but she pointed out I was back home, where almost all the cars were from Illinois.

The short time it had taken me to fly home threw my sense of time and space completely off. But, I was now initiated –  by the DC-3 – into the realm of modern era long-distance air transportation!

Only 7 years later, now a college graduate and a USAF Pilot, I was given the privilege of actually being checked out to fly that same much admired DC-3, which we Air Force pilots affectionately called the “Gooney Bird” or C-47.  What a delightful plane it was to fly.  Easy to handle, stable as one would ever want, and, for a tail-wheeled airplane, still not hard to land.

However, after flying single-engined jets, where one sits only feet off the ground, this cockpit had me sitting almost two stories up. That was quite a change.

Without further ado, here’s the DC-3 story video, which is 25:12 in length.  Remember to keep your volume up – and to immediately switch to full-screen, so you can appreciate this film.

[As an aside: We’d like to bring your attention to the many other fascinating and meaningful peeks back into history provided by the good folks at Periscope Films.  Their catalog is loaded with great film/video materials on a broad variety of topics.  Check them out!]

And, here below, is another video, showing how we are now refurbishing this great workhorse flying machine, and making it good for many more years to come.  From THE AVIATORS Season 3 – “GIVING THE VENERABLE DC-3 NEW LIFE” – This video is just shy of 13:00 minutes long: