The 1937-build DC-3 Flagship Detroit will anchor this year's Fly-in Saturday, Sept.22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the LaFayette Airport, 141 Gasque Drive, in LaFayette.
Flagship Detroit is the second oldest DC-3 still flying.
According to the Flagship Detroit website, the plane was manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Company (founded in 1921) at its Santa Monica, Calif., plant in 1937. It was assigned serial number 1920 and factory number 43. Upon completion, it was delivered to American Airlines as a model DC-3, G102, and assigned the registration number NC17334. American accepted the Detroit delivery on March 2, 1937.
Listed as American Airlines' Flight Number 34, it was christened “Flagship Detroit.” It was the 21st of American Airlines' fleet of 84 Douglas DC-3s operated from 1936 to 1947. American Airlines operated Detroit as a passenger airplane for 10 years, finally selling it to the Bank of Mexico in 1947. The plane went through at least 18 different owners, including being owned for a short time by the U.S. Government, prior to its purchase by the Flagship Detroit Foundation and an authentic restoration to her 1937 glory. The plane was located in Virginia and purchased by the foundation in August of 2004.
According to the website, the Detroit was delivered to American Airlines with Wright Cyclone R-1820-G2 engines of 1,000 HP. In 1940 American Airlines reconfigured its DC-3 fleet to match the “G102” specification which included upgrading the engines to the R-1820-G102 with 1100 HP. After the Detroit left the service of American Airlines, it was fitted with a variety of civilian and military versions of the Cyclone engine. The current engines, though rated at 1350 HP, are restricted on the airplane to a maximum power setting of 1200 HP. The current engines are valued at approximately $60,000 each.
The foundation’s goal is to continue to operate and maintain Flagship Detroit as a flying tribute to all of American Airlines employees, past and present, said its website. By displaying the historic aircraft at various air shows throughout the country, the foundation hopes to foster a continuing awareness of the significance of this era of American aviation.