Project Description

Douglas C-47 Placid Lassie N74589 | Tunison Foundation

  • STATUS: Airworthy
  • LOCATION: South Florida
  • OWNER: Tunison Foundation
  • ROLE: Military Transport
  • BUILT: 1943
  • LENGTH: 63 ft 9 in 9.43 m
  • WINGSPAN:   987 ft 91.70 m
  • ENGINE:  2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90C Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines
  • MAXIMUM SPEED:   224 mph 360 km/h)
  • RANGE:  1,600 miles 2,575 km

Built in July 1943 in Long Beach, California by the Douglas Aircraft Company, C-47 Placid Lassie N74589 was delivered to the US Army Air Force and assigned the military registration number 42- 24064

In late 1943 she made the long Atlantic crossing to the UK and over the next 18 months took part in

  • Operation NEPTUNE (June 6 1944)—Normandy Invasion
  • Operation MARKET GARDEN September 17- 25 1944) – Netherlands
  • Operation REPULSE (Dec. 23-25, 1944) – Relief of Bastogne
  • Operation VARSITY (March 23, 1945) Rhine Crossing

Before returning to the states in June 1945.

After WWII, Placid Lassie was flown to the Reconstruction Finance Company in Walnut Ridge, AR. The RFC was a U.S. Government company with the mission to dispose of about 150,000 WWII aircraft via storage, sale or scrapping.

Thankfully she was saved from scrappage by West Coast Airlines of Seattle for the purpose of carrying passengers and mail based out of the Pacific northwest.

In 1969 she was purchased by Aero-Dyne Corp of Renton Field in Renton, VA who offered aircraft charters and aircraft maintenance and may have used their DC-3 aircraft for type rating training. Areo-Dyne operated out of Renton Field in Renton, VA, until 1985.

In 1984 she was purchased by Saber Cargo Airlines out of Charlotte, SC. With a fleet of at least six DC-3s Saber operated until 2003 when they went bankrupt.

In 1992 Placid Lassie was purchased by Jurmie E. Watkins, Jr. of Simpsonville on behalf of  Express Air Inc, which was headquartered in South Carolina.

In 2000 Dodson International Air based at Covington Municipal Airport, Georgia bought Placcid Lassie as part of their fleet of four DC-3s.  Soon after being purchased, Lassie had major engine issues and was parked due to lack of funds for repairs. She sat in tall weeds at the edge of the ramp for a decade, until James Lyle and Clive Edwards searched for a DC-3 to bring back to life.

In 2010, the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the DC-3, Clive Edwards, a DC-3 restoration expert, and James Lyle were determined to find a “dead” DC-3, and return it to flight status. Their goal was to complete the restoration and fly it to Oshkosh AirVenture for the 75th anniversary celebration. After considering many candidates across the nation and the Caribbean, they decided to acquire a DC-3 in Covington, GA that had been sitting for 10 years. A Union Jack flag was painted on the fuselage and she was named Union Jack Dak.

Seven weeks before AirVenture 2010 in Oshkosh, the restoration crew arrived in Covington and began their herculean task. The DC-3 was pulled out the weeds, wings removed, engines overhauled. Since the log books were missing all Service Bulletins and Airworthiness Directives had to be applied. They worked 17 hour days, 7 days a week. Their motto was “No sleep ’til Oshkosh.”

After two successful test flights, Union Jack Dak triumphantly arrived at AirVenture mid-week.

The original plan was to sell the DC-3 after Oshkosh, but the team greatly enjoyed flying the aircraft. Historical research then revealed that the DC-3 was originally a C-47 and flew for the United States Army Air Force. She was a combat veteran, and more important, a D-Day veteran. The aircraft was painted in D-Day colors, but she was still named Union Jack Dak.

In 2014, James Lyle, Eric Zipkin and others flew Union Jack Dak to England and then to Normandy for the 70th D-Day anniversary celebration. There they met Hans den Brok, a Dutch author and expert on the C-47s of the MARKET GARDEN operation, in which Union Jack Dak participated. Hans said the aircraft had flown with the 74th Transport Troop Squadron, and the one of the crew members, Ed Tunison, was still alive. Ed was quickly contacted and flown to Belgium so he could again see his plane. When re-united, he informed the crew that during the war the C-47 was known as Placid Lassie and photos were obtained. Union Jack Dak instantly became Placid Lassie.

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