While I’m not a flying enthusiast, when the chance to take a ride in the DC-3 Flagship Detroit came across the TulsaPeople desk, I jumped at the chance.
The aircraft, built in in 1937, is in town this weekend and with it people are transported to a time where women wore hats and pantyhose on planes and men were decked to the nines in three-piece suits. People can visit the plane this Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and see for themselves the oldest, still-flying DC-3 in existence at Sparks Aviation, 3112 N. 74th E. Ave. (If you’ve ever been to Evelyn’s, you know the place.)
In the 1930s, American Airlines president C.R. Smith chose the Douglas DST and DC-3 to launch a new era of airline passenger service, with it launching American Airlines as a leader in the industry. The Flagship Detroit was one of 82 DC-3 American flew from 1936-1947.
With its shiny metallic body, it’s hard to believe the folks with the Flagship Detroit Foundation found this relic doing duty as a light freighter and agricultural sprayer in Virginia. With every detail kept in mind, the plane underwent two years of restoration and interior work in Kansas City and Fort Worth. It looks almost exactly like it did when it was flying the friendly skies, with current FAA standards met as well.
Inside the plane, small blue seats are arranged in pairs and singles with American logos proudly emblazoned on each headrest. While in the air, the seven small rectangular windows allow passengers to watch as the cityscape becomes countryside within a matter of minutes, all while watching the rivets and AA on the wings dance with the sunlight.
And the landing? One of the smoothest I’ve ever experienced.
My grandfather worked for American Airlines most of his life — heck, it’s the reason I’m in Tulsa. He moved his family from Queens, N.Y., to T-Town back in the 1950s where he worked for the airline as a mechanic, foreman and supervisor for the rest of his life. While I know he probably didn’t work on this plane — it was built in Santa Monica, Calif. — it allowed me to pay homage to a generation of people that made this city, state and country great.