Dakotas Grounded Due To New Air Regulations

June 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

The legendary Douglas DC-3 Dakota aircraft has seen its fair share of important events and activities. The aircraft, which was originally designed in 1935 as a luxury civilian aircraft, was drafted by the military during World War II. During that time it served a vital function during D-Day by parachuting allied troops into occupied Europe. After a few years of war-time service the aircraft went back to its original role as a civilian aircraft and it has been maintained and was kept in service until now.

The legendary and much-loved ‘Daks’ have been used as a luxury civilian aircraft up until the last ten years when they started to become something of a novelty. Now it would seem that they will no longer act as a passenger aircraft but will instead be used exclusively for commemorative flybys and other historical air displays. The change comes in the face of new rules that insist that all passenger-carrying aircraft meet current safety standards, regardless of their age. Previously the safety of passengers in historical aircraft was the responsibility of the UK Civil Aviation Authority but this has now passed to the EU and this has brought about the change in requirements. Such massive changes are virtually impossible to make for the Dakota and so the decision has been made to ground the aircraft. Lovers of this legendary and fiercely historic landmark aircraft were determined to ensure that the aircraft would not go out without a bang and so organized a national farewell tour.

As part of the tour the planes stopped at Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport from where it spent two days conducting public flights, giving people a last chance to ride in one of these legendary stalwarts of the skies. At a cost of ¬£99, enthusiasts could enjoy a 20-minute flip in the twin-engine propeller-driven aircraft. The Dakota used for the commemorative flights was built in 1944 and has the distinction of having being used in the Berlin airlift of 1948 – an event that is generally thought of as being the starting point of the Cold War. After it was taken out of service it made a number of film and TV appearances. Many of the passengers who took to the skies during this brief two day period commented on how noisy the plane was and how much the plane vibrated. Some of the passengers were war veterans who had parachuted out the aircraft before and who were now curious to see how it landed. Modern pilots who visited the cock-pit might have been struck at just how different it is from a modern aircraft and pilots will often comment that flying this sort of aircraft makes you feel as if you have traveled back in time.

During the rest of the nationwide farewell tour, the Dakota will visit as many different cities in the UK as is possible before finally being retired from the public service for good.

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