Douglas DC–3

Flight Notes - how to fly the Douglas DC–3


Since its introduction in 1935, the DC–3 has been one of the most reliable and economical aircraft in commercial aviation history. General Dwight Eisenhower cited the DC–3, or "Gooneybird" as the military version was often called, as one of the most important factors in the Allied victory in World War II. Amazingly, even today, nearly 70 years after the first launch, DC–3s are still in service around the world hauling cargo and passengers.

The Douglas DC–3 defined the birth of the era of modern commercial aviation. Airlines finally had an airplane they could operate within expense limits that allowed ticket pricing available to the average person. Passenger travel by air across continents was possible day or night. Some versions of the DC–3 were equipped with sleeping berths.

Almost as remarkable as the revolution the DC–3 fostered in air travel is the fact that DC–3s are still flying for revenue. Some are used for scenic nostalgia flights and others are still hauling cargo. Donald Douglas would undoubtedly be proud to know that the venerable twin-engine bird is still earning money.

The DC–3 is about as easy an airliner as there is to fly. Like most taildraggers it needs some attention on the ground. The DC–3, however, is very stable to fly, easy to handle, and very forgiving of less-than-perfect landings.


U.S. Metric
Cruise speed 185 mph 161 knots 298 km per hour
Engines Two Pratt & Whitney R-1830s
Maximum range 1,845 nm 2,125 miles 3,420 km
Service ceiling 23,200 feet 7,071 meters
Fuel capacity 604 U.S. gallons 2,286 liters
Empty weight 16,145 pounds 7,323 kilograms
Max gross weight 26,200 pounds 11,884 kilograms
Length 65.5 feet 20 meters
Wingspan 95 feet 29 meters
Height 17 feet 5.18 meters
Maximum seating 21 to 28
Useful load 10,055 pounds 4,560 kilograms