Why Fly a Douglas DC-3?

by DJ Doran

I haven’t written an update about The PrideFlight Project in a while and so this might be a long one. The PrideFlight Project is a dream of mine to fly a DC-3 around the world. First to promote civilian aviation and its history and second to offer support to LGBTQ communities around the globe.

Pilot DJ Doran standing on the wing of a DC-3
Pilot DJ Doran standing on the wing of a DC-3

Are you for sale?

Over the last few months I have been doing some soul searching. Is the PrideFlight project too much trying to prepare a WWII era DC-3 for a flight like this.  Contrary to what you may believe the acquisition of the plane itself has not been the biggest hurdle. There are plenty of DC-3’s that could be acquired for the price of nicely equipped modern single engine plane. However, there are more than a few challenges in owning a plane like this beyond finding one that’s for sale.  

I bought my plane now what?

To begin with there is the issue of storage (I live in Chicago). A DC-3 has a 95 foot wingspan. Finding somewhere to park her is in itself a challenge. Then there is the availability of spare parts and the sourcing of fuel (AV GAS). This type of aviation fuel is not always readily available outside the United States. These are just the proverbial tip of the challenge iceberg.  Type training, accumulation of hours in type (DC-3), insurance, crew availability are also major challenges and expenses.

Planning, planning and more planning.

The planning, contingency planning, contingency-contingency planning, weather, clearances, foreign handlers and everything in between sometimes feels too much to overcome. I tell myself that if it was easy it wouldn’t be worth doing. Most days I am able to talk myself into believing it. On other days I have a hard time wrapping my head around HOW the hell will I get this done.  

To settle or not to settle, that’s the question.

The voice of reason in screaming in my head tells me to choose a smaller plane. One with advanced systems and avionics that can be stored in a regular hanger at any regional or local airport. Most high performance planes with some modifications can make the trip. I read about other circumnavigators that have done just that, but then they are NOT flying DC-3’s. 

I have struggled with the idea of settling for a lesser dream. Because the one I want is too big, the challenges too great. I think to myself, If I do that, will it satisfy me in the same way as my original dream or will I always feel like I settled for the diluted version? 

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