Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gooney Bird Memories

There is a photo tribute to the Douglas DC-3 at Wired today on the occasion of its 75th anniversary.

Above and below are the only photos I've made that I like of the graceful beast. I don't have a good excuse for that as there are still several hundred DC-3 flying, including a couple belonging to an airline which you can hop a ride on from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.

I never had the pleasure of flying in the DC-3. The closest I got was a flight from Bogotá to Leticia in 1969 in a C-46. That was a Curtiss-made cargo carrier, also with two radial engines, but it came five years later than the Douglas DC-3 and it had twice the horsepower.

I do have, however, a vivid association from my childhood with the DC-3, or rather its military version, the C-47. My uncle Jack was shot down while piloting one during the invasion of Sicily in 1943. I clearly recall my father's death during the Battle of the Bulge later, but I have no actual memory from the time of Jack's crash. What I do remember is that for years his shrapnel-torn, blood-stained mae west and the burned shell of the microphone from his plane hung on the basement wall in the Seattle house we shared with my grandparents. Jack was temporarily blinded in the crash, and I don't remember him recounting how he managed to hold onto those gruesome souvenirs.

I've made photos of aircraft with most of my old cameras – they seem to go together. The ones above are from my Certo Dolly Super Sport. Quite a few others are linked to on a page at my web site devoted to visits to air shows and air museums. The pinhole section of my site also has a page devoted to the history of flight. During our time in Albuquerque I have photographed the visiting Collings Foundation warbirds on two occasions, once with my Pentax Spotmatic, and later with my Kodak Brownie Reflex. Albuquerque's Museum of Nuclear Science and History has a few old planes that I have photographed many times with many cameras, including my Brownie Hawkeye Flash.

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