HELP US KEEP THESE GREAT PLANES FLYING, THESE IMPORTANT SYMBOLS OF AMERICA'S WWII SACRIFICE ARE DISAPPEARING. ONLY WITH YOUR HELP AND DONATIONS WE CAN PRESERVE THESE HISTORICAL PLANES. HERE'S THE MANY WAYS YOU CAN HELP.
Where it all started:
In July 1940, Eastern Airline ordered our DC3 serial number 4089 from the Douglas Aircraft Corporation and she was built at Long Beach, California. However, before she was delivered to Eastern, the U.S. Army Air Corps decided that she was essential to the pending war effort and requisitioned the aircraft for military service. Designating it a C-49 Transport, the Army Air Corps changed its configuration, putting in bench type paratrooper seats and painting it in military colors. On January 24th 1941 the aircraft was delivered into service along with an Eastern Airlines crew to initially operate it.
The WWII Airborne Demonstration Team Jump School training consists of a number of different modules that encompass both classroom and hands on physical activities designed to develop and unconscious but immediate response to any eventuality. Training is arduous and physically demanding as well as requiring a level of co-ordination and understanding while under pressure. The focus of the Jump School is to enable a recruit to attain the level of competence and skill required to make five safe qualifying jumps and therefore attain their jump wings and become an active member of the Parachute Company. Several candidates have been unable to reach this standard and where there is a chance of placing the recruit at risk to themselves or their fellow recruits, they have sadly not been able to pass to the final jump phase and graduate from a class.
In 2014 a dedicated, experienced group of aircraft enthusiasts, who were based in north east Oklahoma, joined the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team transport with a goal of helping the team fulfil its dream to operate two World War II aircraft in support of the team’s mission – To remember, Honor and Serve the veterans of World War II and other conflicts.
Under the leadership of James Dagg, the Tulsa Air Wing had worked on other aircraft projects including WWII transport aircraft and saw an opportunity where that experience could be brought to benefit the Team. The Tulsa Air Wing boasts a wide range of experienced aircraft mechanics who have been involved with historic aircraft for a number of years, many having been working in support of the local Commemorative Air Force.
Based at the facilities of the Tulsa Tech School at Jones Riverside Airport in Tulsa, the Air Wing can draw on the experience of former lecturers, as well as fully trained aircraft maintenance staff, to help maintain its aircraft. This, combined with the opportunity to provide additional learning opportunities to students at the school makes it a great opportunity for the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team. The Wing’s operational C-49 aircraft “Wild Kat” will be based out of Jones Riverside Airport in support of the Team’s mission.
TULSA AIR WING
During its commission, the aircraft was used to ferry troops and transport cargo throughout the United States and it remained in service throughout World War II until it was released back to Eastern Airlines in January 1945. The aircraft’s World War II service was not glamorous or exciting but it was part of a fleet that saw the DC3 recognized as playing an essential role in the winning of World War II.
When the aircraft was returned to Eastern Airlines in 1945, she was reconfigured with regular passenger seats, stripped of its olive drab paint and the aluminum skin was highly polished in the latest Eastern Airlines livery. She was put back into scheduled service where she remained until 1952 as one of the backbone of the post was expansion of passenger aviation. In 1952 the plane was sold on to North Central Airlines and was operated as a passenger aircraft until 1960 when North Central stripped out the interior seating, replaced the door to a cargo configuration and operated the aircraft as a cargo transport until it was sold to Air Puerto Rico in 1965. Air Puerto Rico operated the plane on cargo transport between the USA and Puerto Rico as well as other Caribbean islands until it was sold to a leasing company in Houston, Texas in 1974.
Following its sale to the leasing company, the aircraft was used for many different services, but most notably, in 1976 it was used to make a TV commercial for the 1977 Chevrolet C20 Pickup Truck that was aired on nationwide TV. For this the advertising agency removed both landing wheels from the aircraft and added Chevrolet truck frames and landed the aircraft on them. Once the advert was completed, she was returned to her normal configuration and continued to be leased until she was sold in 1978.
In 1978 the aircraft was once again sold, this time to a charitable non-profit base in Miami called Mission Air who operated the plane, along with 50 others, throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on missionary work, delivering much needed food, clothing and medical relief to the area. This work continued until 2006 when the plane sustained damage from a hurricane and was written off by Mission Air as no longer viable.
In early 2007 the aircraft was purchased by the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team, with a long term goal of bringing her back into serviceable condition. During the period from 2007 to 2014 the aircraft was given a new exterior painting to bring it back into a World War II military colors and much of the interior was stripped out and it was it was named Boop D Doop. But it was a long haul to get the airplane back in the air.
In the autumn of 2014, the Tulsa Air Wing of the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team agreed to rise to the challenge to complete the work necessary to get the plane back into service. For a year they worked on the aircraft at Frederick Army Airfield in order to get the plane able to fly and ferry to its new base in Tulsa at Jones Riverside Airport. Once located at the Tulsa Tech facility in Tulsa the really challenging work began. All faulty items were repaired or replaced, while any corrosion was corrected and damage mended. In excess of 9,000 man hours of work has been put into getting the aircraft, now renamed Wild Kat and complete with new nose art, back in the air. This will be completed by July 2017 when the aircraft will join her sister ship “Boogie Baby” at the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team Summer Jump School.