As far as I am concerned the quintessential art deco aircraft has to be the DC-3. Actually, it’s the quintessential passenger aircraft. Period.
The Douglas Commercial 3 – Dakota – was arguably the best of the first generation of stressed-skin duraluminum monoplanes in regular service, beating most of the competition and helping re-define air travel after its introduction in the mid-1930s. It symbolised modern flying to the world.
Later airliners flew faster, higher, further and carried more passengers. But they didn’t do anything materially different from the DC-3. You can imagine the romance of flight as it stood back then – a rare luxury when passengers were rich and when flight carried an exotic magic that it’s lost today in this age of routine jet travel for the masses. Back then it was something very special. And that’s inspiring.
As a kid I remember seeing some of the last National Airways Corporation DC-3’s flying into Napier. And if you’d like to read about some of the military Dakotas flown by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the story’s in my book Kiwi Air Power, available from Amazon.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015