I was watching NBC’s “Today Show” yesterday morning and they were doing live coverage of the Haitian earthquake from the apron of the Port Au Prince International Airport. To my amazement, I thought I saw two DC 3′s in the background. Turns out, I was correct. The DC 3 is the ultimate “golden oldie.”
I work for a regional aircraft manufacturer as a pilot and tech support engineering specialist. Interesting thing about the DC-3. As we all know, in engineering and especially in aviation, development of a product is more or less by committee and involves thousands of trade offs and compromises. Usually the compromises have some kind of imbalance that limit a product’s effectiveness and service life. However, like a monkey throwing down alphabet blocks where on some rare occasion they spell a word, sometimes, the compromises just happen to come together in a state of balance resulting in a machine that, for its intended use, is something close to perfection. This is the DC 3.
Imagine, a complex transportation machine designed almost 80 freaking years ago (the DC 2 upon which the 3 is based first flew in ‘33), that a businessman can purchase today, not as a tourist attraction, but as a business tool that can still be put to work to make money hauling freight in North America (and in the case of an operator in northern Canada, run a daily scheduled passenger service!).
I can’t think of any other transportation device, and very few machines of any kind, that can still function as a profit making business tool nearly 80 years after they were designed. This incredible aircraft gets my vote as the greatest transportation conveyance of modern times.