C-49 Wild Kat

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Transport War Service

In July 1940, Eastern Airlines ordered our DC-3, serial number 4089, from the Douglas Aircraft Corporation where she was built at Long Beach, California. Before she was delivered to Eastern Airlines, the U.S. Army Air Corps decided that she was essential to the pending war effort and requisitioned the aircraft for military service. Designating it a C-49 Transport, the Army Air Corps changed its configuration, putting in bench type paratrooper seats and painting it in military colors. On January 24th, 1941 the aircraft was delivered into service along with an Eastern Airlines crew to initially operate it. During its commission, the aircraft was used to ferry troops and transport cargo throughout the United States and it remained in service throughout World War II until it was released back to Eastern Airlines in January 1945. The aircraft’s World War II service was not glamorous or exciting but it was part of a fleet that saw the DC-3 recognized as playing an essential role in the winning of World War II. 

Passenger Aircraft Service

When the aircraft was returned to Eastern Airlines in 1945, she was reconfigured with regular passenger seats, stripped of its olive drab paint, and the aluminum skin was highly polished in the latest Eastern Airlines livery. She was put back into scheduled service where she remained until 1952 as one of the backbone of the post war expansion of passenger aviation. In 1952 the plane was sold to North Central Airlines and was operated as a passenger aircraft until 1960. North Central stripped out the interior seating, replaced the door to a cargo configuration, and operated the aircraft as a cargo transport until it was sold to Air Puerto Rico in 1965. Air Puerto Rico operated the plane as a cargo transport between the USA and Puerto Rico as well as other Caribbean islands until it was sold to a leasing company in Houston, Texas in 1974.   

1976 Super Bowl Commercial

Following its sale to the leasing company, the aircraft was used for many different services, but most notably in 1976 it was used to make a TV commercial for Chevrolet that was aired during the 1976 Super Bowl between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys. The advertising agency removed both landing wheels from the aircraft and added Chevrolet truck frames and landed the aircraft on them. 

Missionary Service

Once the advertisement was completed, she was returned to her normal configuration and continued to be leased until she was sold in 1978.    In 1978 the aircraft was once again sold, this time to Mission Air, a charitable non-profit based in Miami, who operated the plane along with fifty others throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on missionary work delivering much needed food, clothing, and medical relief to the area. This work continued until 2006 when the plane sustained damage from a hurricane and was written off by Mission Air as no longer viable.   

Wild Kat's Aquisition

In early 2008, the aircraft was acquired by the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team, a non-profit organization headquartered at the historic Frederick Army Airfield in Frederick, Oklahoma. The aircraft was flown to Frederick where it underwent some restoration and repainted in the same squadron markings as Boogie Baby and named Boop B Doop. In 2015 she was flown to Tulsa, Oklahoma for major restoration at the newly created ADT Tulsa Air Operations Squadron. Boop B Doop has been renamed Wild Kat. Wild Kat particpated in her first parachute drop operation at the October 2017 Parachute School.

Your Help Is Needed

Our skilled mechanics spend countless hours inspecting and maintaining our two aircraft. As you would imagine this comes with a high cost to operate and maintain two 75 year-old aircraft. Our parachute schools and the generosity of the general public help provide the funding to maintain these historic aircraft. Your donation will help us keep these two aircraft airworthy for years to come. 

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