Douglas DC-2

NC13711 - N1934D
Museum of Flight - Seattle


Douglas DC-2 N1934D, owned by the Museum of Flight in Seattle, has finally arrived in Seattle.  Restoration of this airplane began in 1982,  when the airplane was leased from the Donald Douglas Museum by the Douglas Historical Foundation - primarily a group of Douglas retirees.  When they  towed the airplane from Santa Monica to Long Beach, it was a basket case.  Thousands of volunteer man-hours over a 20 year period were contributed by many Douglas retirees towards its restoration.   After its sale to the Museum of Flight, it was moved to Van Nuys for completion of the  lengthy and meticulous restoration by Museum Trustee and Board Member Clay Lacy, at his faciltiies in Southern California.  See more of the history below.

The airplane, now completed, was flown from Van Nuys, California to Boeing Field in Seattle on 7 June 2007.  Stops were made in Sacramento and Eugene, Oregon.  The flight crew was Clay Lacy and Buzz Nelson.  Flight time was 5:30.


The following pictures document some views of the airplane's restoration, repainting  and arrival at the Museum.

DC-2  MacDac West Retirees

At Long Beach with the Douglas Retirees

Arrival at Boeing Field
June 7, 2007
72 Years Old...Young













With the arrival of this airplane, the Museum now has a Boeing 247 and a Douglas DC-2, two rivals in the 1930s, both extremely historic airplanes, and both airworthy.  A truly historic achievement.


Note:  This is the only airplane I am aware of with two N-Numbers

Restoration in California

The airplane's final restoration took place in Van Nuys, but the repaint was accomplished in Santa Maria, California - shown below.

The following pictures of the repaint were taken by Museum employee Jim Goodall and are displayed with his permission.






A Brief History

On 28 October 2005, veteran pilot Clay Lacy flew Douglas DC-2 NC1934D from Long Beach, California, to his base at Van Nuys Airport. The aircraft has been acquired by the Museum of Flight at Seattle, Washington, and much work will be done on the plane at Clay's facility until the aircraft is ready to continue its journey north. This particular aircraft was originally delivered to Pan American World Airways during March 1935 and immediately went into service as NC14271. After a couple of years, it was transferred to PAA's Mexican affiliate Mexicana. The DC-2's next stop was to join Avianca in Guatemala during October where it led a long, hard life as a jack-of-all-trades transport until being sold off in June 1953.

The new owner was Johnson Flying Service, Missoula, Montana, who operated a large and eclectic collection of vintage and veteran aircraft that were worked hard on a variety of tasks. The plane was modified as an aerial sprayer and was also used as a smoke jumper platform to drop parachutists near large fires.

Now registered N4867V, the aircraft survived its harsh battles with nature until 1973 when the plane was traded to Stan Bumstein as a partial payment for a used Douglas DC-8 with which Johnson started a (disastrous) airline venture. Bumstein, in turn, decided to donate the transport to the Donald Douglas Library and Museum at Clover Field, the aircraft's birthplace.

In 1982, the Douglas Historical Foundation was created to restore the plane to its former glory. This was not an easy task -the DC-2 had been a workhorse and it showed. Volunteers set to work and, over the years, tens of thousands of man-hours were spent bringing the transport back to its original condition.

The interior was gutted when received, but seats were tracked down and the original fabrics and colors were duplicated. The airframe was thoroughly overhauled, fresh engines were fitted, and wiring restored. It was a big task, but it was also a task aided by subcontractors who had supplied Douglas for years.

On 25 April 1987 - 14-years after it had last flown - the DC-2 once again took to the air. The restored transport would have its share of problems - several failed engines made the restorers dip deeply into their limited funds.

During this period, the Douglas Museum was acquired by David Price who opened the high-tech Museum of Flying at Santa Monica during 1980. The Museum of Flying leased the plane back to the Douglas Historical Foundation. When the lease was over, the plane had another busted engine and it did not really fit into the Museum of Flying's focus on fighters. In 2001, the aircraft was sold to the Museum of Flight. However, the plane had been parked outside for over five years and its condition had gone downhill. At Clay Lacy Aviation, the historic aircraft will regain its former glory before continuing to Seattle. "It's a great old plane," said Clay "and it flies like a big Piper Cub."

From Air Classics Feb 2006

Copyright Challenge Publications Inc. Feb 2006
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

The DC-2 is a design of famed aircraft designer Dutch Kindelberger.  For more information, see here.

What's with the color scheme?

This comment summarizes a good question some astute people have asked:

From the Pan Am Historical Foundation - 5 Oct 2005:

Editorial Opinion:

I'm not exactly sure what to make of this. First, since the records apparently show the aircraft was originally Pan Am/Mexicana, I'm not sure why a museum, seemingly dedicated to the accurate preservation of aviation history, would even consider painting it in TWA livery. Secondly, painting it in any livery is going to cost money so I'm not sure why painting it for Pan Am/Mexicana would cost any more than painting it for TWA or Douglas.

It is certainly a real 'find' to discover a flyable DC-2 at this point in time and well worth preserving --- accurately.

John Steele


My Take on this, in the "For What It's Worth"  Department

The Douglas Historical Foundation, as I understand the history of this project, initiated the decision to go TWA.  The paint job, seat restoration, and attractive forward bulkhead, were restored in TWA motif.  This is a guess, but I'll bet a pretty good one --  TWA  was the driving airline behind the Douglas design, attempting to compete with United which had sewn up all the early Boeing 247s.  That  famously poor business decision has been widely discussed ever since.

When the MOF bought the airplane,  the excellent interior restoration was already set.  There was much discussion in the Collections Committee, of which I am a member,  over the paint job.  The plan actually was to paint it half and half - a plan I favored - with TWA and PAA on opposite sides.  In the end, Clay Lacy  was paying for the painting, so he made the decision.

I've done the same myself.  When I got the de Havilland Comet IV C for the MOF, I had it painted in BOAC colors.  This was an airplane that had flown its entire career with Mexicana.  In fact, BOAC never operated the C model airplane at all.  I identified the Comet with BOAC, and since, at the time, it was my airplane, I painted it as I chose.  Pretty simple.  My airplane; my colors!  Now, forces outside my whims have come into play, and likely, it will be re-painted in Mexicana colors.  But it's been BOAC for 23 years and needs a new paint job anyway.

Bob Bogash

Link to Clay Lacy Website

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