POLK CITY, Fla. (April 27, 2012) - After a nine-month layover at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a World War II C-47 Dakota, will make the final leg of its voyage this weekend to its new home at Central Florida's Fantasy of Flight, home to the world's largest private collection of rare and vintage planes.
Fantasy of Flight creator and founder Kermit Weeks purchased the plane, also known as the Skytrain, last year from a private owner in the U.K. and began a seven-leg journey last July to fly the plane back to the United States via the northern portion of the "Great Circle Route." Facebook fans were able to track the plane's progress last July as it traveled from Kemble, England to Wick, Scotland, then on to Reykjavik, Iceland; Narssarsuag, Greenland; Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and finally landed at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh.
Now, both Facebook fans of Fantasy of Flight (www.facebook.com/fantasyofflight) and Twitter followers (FantasyOfFlight) can receive updates and see photos of the World War II military transport plane as it departs Oshkosh Saturday, April 28. The C-47 will join the more than 40 rare and vintage aircraft on display and flying at the aviation attraction.
"We are thrilled to finally bring home the C-47 to our permanent collection," said Weeks. "Flying her across the Atlantic was an incredible opportunity to relive the days when World War II pilots first brought them to Europe to fight for the Allies, but now, to be able to bring her home to Florida for our guests to enjoy will be even more momentous."
The C-47 is the military version of the Douglas DC-3 airliner, with a cargo door versus passenger door and a reinforced floor to hold heavy cargo and as many as 27 soldiers. The plane was called the Skytrain in the United States, the Dakota in the U.K. and the "Gooney Bird" throughout Europe. More than 10,000 C-47s were produced, but fewer than 1,000 remain and fewer than 300 are still flying. The C-47 (N1944A) acquired by Fantasy of Flight was used by the Allies during World War II to transport troops and cargo and was instrumental in the D-Day Invasion, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge, the Crossing of the Rhine and in the repatriation of POWs at the end of the war.
Trans-Atlantic ferrying of vintage aircraft is becoming extremely rare, occurring only once every five to 10 years. Weeks' last and only ferrying took place in 1993, when he piloted a 1944 Short Sunderland flying boat to the United States.