No doubt about it, Lennon is one special young man. At just 15 years old, Lennon is already an aviation supporter. For the past 3 years, He has given up almost every weekend to volunteer at the National Airline History Museum. As he says in this video, he “fell in love with the place.” That is our reason for this Kickstarter. That is why we’ve poured thousands of hours and 20 years into restoring and getting the DC-3 in the air again – to inspire a younger generation to learn about airline history and apply their learnings to our future. Thanks, Lennon for all you do, and thank you all for supporting our cause!
This week, we are making a massive push to get to 20% funded on our Kickstarter campaign. That means that we only need 40 people donating at the $250 level, to get us there! Did we mention that if you donate at the $250 level it includes a ride? Here are the package details:
Pledge $250 and Get:
- Entry for 4 to the museum
- Commemorative Certificate of Appreciation
- 8×10 print of the completed aircraft in front of KC Skyline
- Replica Glider and your picture taken in the pilot seat
- Membership to the museum
- Local sightseeing flight on the DC-3!
Want to pledge a different amount? No problem! We have rewards starting at $5 pledges!
Help us return Douglas to the sky! Tell your friends!
When Mark Gandy began volunteering his time to restoring the Douglas DC-3, he had no idea the significance this aircraft had in his personal story. Mark worked as an aircraft mechanic for TWA for 16 years, and then for American Airlines after the acquisition. After he retired in 2012, a friend asked him to come help him with a restoration project on a DC-3 at the Airline History Museum. His friend knew he’d had several years of experience working on these airplanes during his time with TWA.
Mark was interested in the project, as he’d seen the airplane in pieces when they brought it in on trailers. Mark began volunteering two days a week, working on the Douglas DC-3, and he began suspecting that this particular airplane was special.
Mark didn’t end up working on airplanes by accident; it was “in his blood.” His father, Jack Gandy, was a pilot for TWA from 1939 to 1956. In the middle of those years, he flew for the US Navy during WWII. Mark contacted his brother, who has his father’s old logbooks, and read off the line number.
“It was true, the airplane I’d been working every week to restore, was in my father’s log book as a plane he had flown – before the War as co-pilot, and after the War as pilot,” he said.
The project meant even more to Mark now, as it was not only a piece of national history, but a piece of his family’s history. Mark’s father, Jack, was tragically killed in a mid-air collision in 1956, a crash that changed the face of airline safety and air traffic control communication forever.
Mark was 10 years old when his father passed, and he has a lot of fun memories of life in the air. One story he shared was quite humorous. He recalls as a child having the opportunity to fly when there was space available with his employee family pass. The flight he recalled was one from Kansas City to Phoenix, Arizona. The plane was full, and the only seat available was in the very back. It was a summer day, and the airplane was pretty warm.
“Because the DC-3 wasn’t as stable as modern aircraft, the back of the plan was pretty bumpy. I was sick as a dog because of how much the tail moved around,” Mark chuckled.
The DC-3 flying experience is another reason Mark works on the airplane. He reflected on the differences between flying now and flying in the 50s – when DC-3s were one aircraft of choice by airlines. In a word, Mark summed up the DC-3 flying experience as “fun.”
“It didn’t used to take two and a half hours to fly to California, it used to take five or six. Now it’s more like getting on a bus and going from point A to point B,” he said. In modern aircraft, passengers can mostly “check out,” by listening to music, playing video games and watching movies. Back when the DC-3 was in service, the flight was as much a part of the trip as the destination. And in those days, he recalled, the service on the aircraft was one of the biggest things. (Teaser: stay tuned for our next post when we talk to a flight attendant from this time period.)
“It’s one thing to read about [flying in a DC-3] in books, but there’s nothing like walking around and being in these aircraft,” he said. “These planes were not pressurized, so they didn’t fly as high and didn’t travel quite as fast, so you could really see the land and the features and roads. It was a thrill.”
Experiencing these aircraft and learning about our airline heritage is the reason that the Airline History Museum is working so hard to get this plane finished. As it sits, “Douglas” is about 85 percent done. People, just like Mark, have poured countless hours into resurrecting this plane, and want nothing more than for the public to see it and see what it’s like to go for a ride.
“This project needs to be completed. I can’t even begin to calculate how many man-hours have gone into this plane. It’s a labor of love, and I want to see it fly,” Mark said. Once this restoration is done, Mark thinks it will be the best one around, as it is as close to the original as humanly possible. Once funded and completed, “Douglas” will fly around to different air shows, be on display at the museum for educational purposes, and will allow people to experience the joy of flight from this era on different sight seeing trips around Kansas City.
Haven’t donated to the cause yet? Donate now!
“Douglas” is done with retirement and ready to fly. The National Airline History Museum, located in the Charles Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City, Missouri is looking for help from Kickstarter to push through last funding hurdle and complete 20-year labor of love for this iconic TWA airliner.
Volunteers are in the final stages of getting “Douglas,” a DC-3, into the air again. On February 21, 1941, serial number 3294 rolled off the assembly line in Santa Monica, California to be delivered to TWA at the Downtown Kansas City Airport. When World War II broke out a couple months later, most DC-3′s were converted to C-47s and flown in the war. Douglas escaped this fate and is now one of the only true commercial, non-military DC-3 still around today. Douglas flew passenger with TWA as ship 386 from 1941 until 1952. In the mid-80s, Douglas was retired and flown to Roswell, New Mexico. When the museum learned of this historic aircraft’s whereabouts they, along with Save-A-Connie organization, purchased Douglas from a Denver museum with the intent to put him back in the sky.
The majority of exterior skin has been replaced. Both engines and propellers have been overhauled. We lack cowl assemblies to complete the engines. After purchasing the last parts, the museum will still have many costs associated with completing and making Douglas air-worthy. The Kickstarter funds will be used to hire full-time mechanics, purchase the rest of the necessary parts, fuel, oil, crew training and many other things. These funds will finally push this 20-year restoration project over the last few hurdles.
TWA was one of the largest domestic airlines. It has been an important part of Kansas City history, as it was a headquarters for the airline. Many of TWA’s crewmembers have remained in Kansas City through their retirement and golden years. These people have poured their hearts into restoring this aircraft and want nothing more than to fly with Douglas again. Restoring and returning these types of planes to the air is not only important to Kansas City, but it’s important to make future generations aware of the history, heritage and craftsmanship of these aircrafts from yesteryear.
“What makes people respond so deeply and personally to a machine, an object that supposedly possesses no spirit or soul, that’s presumably little more than a heartless mass of metal and wires, devoid of any humanizing influence”?
Conger Beasley Jr.
That quote was taken from an article that appeared in the KC Star about the Connie.
Today I was thinking about that quote as I was polishing the propeller getting it to a mirrored shine, I saw my reflection in the prop; I was thinking about the whole DC-3 and how it shines when it’s polished.
What I’m getting at is really the reflection, the reflection we see in the mirror or better yet the reflection we see in the shine of this aircraft. It show’s me and you and all the people that have lent a hand in getting this bird back in the air. So as we move yet one step closer to getting this aircraft airworthy, Smile, because the reflection is of us all.