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A vintage Douglas DC-3 aircraft (previously owned by Yukon-based Air North) recently flew for the first time in over a decade after receiving a complete restoration by aviation enthusiasts in the U.S.
The plane, known as the “Yukon Sourdough,” took to the sky in mid-July from Hagerstown Municipal Airport, Maryland, with pilots Jim Sells and Mike Macario at the controls. Pilot Ken Casady, who was involved in the plane’s restoration, was also on board.
Casady said while there were some small glitches, which required a few adjustments, the flight was still a success as the plane did everything it was supposed to do.
After the engines fired up, they had to be shut down briefly as the pilots were not able to hear air traffic control on the radio. A member of the restoration team, Malcolm Van Kirk, was able to get on board and quickly rectify the issue.
The plane was then able to take off, allowing Sells and Macario to fly it to a practice area near the airport to perform several maneuvers. Observers on the ramp cheered as the plane became airborne.
The aircraft was originally built in 1942 as a C-47A Skytrain. In 1982, it was purchased by Air North, registered as CF-OVW — a Douglas DC3C-S1C3G — and operated with the name and tail art “Yukon Sourdough.” Air North sold the plane in 1998, and in 2001, it was picked up and partially restored by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in a hangar at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
The EAA then received a donation of another DC-3, and decided to sell the Yukon Sourdough. Malcolm Van Kirk and his brother, Stephen (a retired airline pilot), purchased the plane and brought it to Maryland. When the plane was put up for sale again, Casady came across the listing and reached out to the Van Kirk brothers. Casady said he could tell they didn’t really want to sell the plane, so he decided to partner with the Van Kirks to completely restore the aircraft. The plane still wears the yellow-and-green Air North livery, but now has a new tail number: N983DC.
Malcolm Van Kirk said the plane had an inspection in late 2009, and likely flew some in 2010, before it was damaged in a windstorm while parked outside.
When the DC-3 finally flew again just a few weeks ago, it was a bittersweet moment, as Malcolm’s brother, Stephen, passed away on July 1, just prior to the flight. His name is painted just below the left pilot’s window as a tribute.
In a near-full circle moment, this week, the plane flew once again at EAA’s annual AirVenture Oshkosh airshow, which is currently being held at Wittman Regional Airport, Wisconsin, from July 24 to 31.
The question remains if the plane will ever make its way back to the Yukon.
Casady said the costs to operate and maintain the DC-3 are fairly steep; it costs roughly $1,500 per hour just to fly the plane. He noted that if people are willing to support these costs through small donations, the team would absolutely fly the aircraft to the Yukon.
Long term, the team would ideally like to keep the DC-3 operational, rather than see it hanging from the ceiling of a museum on display.