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Fantasy of Flight receives C-47 Dakota

Courtesy Fantasy of Flight

POLK CITY, Fla. — The newest addition to Fantasy of Flight is a World War II C-47 Dakota, which arrived at the central Florida attraction in late April after a nine-month layover at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wis.

The plane, also known as the Skytrain, was flown to the Wisconsin museum last July from England, where Fantasy of Flight founder Kermit Weeks purchased it. The C-47 joins more than 40 rare and vintage aircraft on display and flying at the aviation attraction.

The C-47 is the military version of the Douglas DC-3 airliner, with a cargo door instead of a passenger door and a reinforced floor to hold heavy cargo and as many as 27 soldiers. The plane was called the Skytrain in the United States, the Dakota in the United Kingdom and the “Gooney Bird” throughout Europe.

More than 10,000 C-47s were produced, but fewer than 1,000 remain and fewer than 300 are still flying. The C-47 acquired by Fantasy of Flight was used by the Allies during World War II to transport troops and cargo and was instrumental in the D-Day Invasion, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge, the Crossing of the Rhine and the repatriation of POWs at the end of the war.  

Transatlantic ferrying of vintage aircraft is becoming extremely rare, occurring only once every five to 10 years. Weeks’ last and only other ferrying took place in 1993, when he piloted a 1944 Short Sunderland flying boat to the United States.