On December 17, 2010, it will be 107 years since the first powered flight. It will also be the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the ubiquitous Douglas DC-3 – an aircraft that’s still flying on all six continents (including Antarctica). It still provides service with commercial entities operating in a variety of guises – as a passenger carrier, freighter or research aircraft; or as the figurehead of restoration groups dedicated to preserving airworthy examples of the workhorse it has always been.
Delta Air Lines was an early user of the DC-2.
Following the crash of a Transcontinental and Western Air – later Trans World Airlines (TWA) – Fokker F10 Trimotor in 1931, the US Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) dictated that no future US-built commercial aircraft could contain wings or structural parts made of wood. The cause of the crash had been determined as a failure of a wooden strut due to water ingestion dissolving glue in the wooden laminate. Accordingly, Boeing then developed the Model 247 but, because of an exclusivity clause with United Airlines, could not offer the aircraft to anyone else. United’s main competitor, TWA, wanted a new aircraft and approached four manufacturers to produce something that could meet the CAB’s requirements: all metal wings and structural members, retractable landing gear and capable of remaining in flight, even if one engine failed.