By Fred “Crash” Blechman
Hundreds of people showed up for a pancake breakfast served in honor of a popular Corona Airport (AJO) resident. The breakfast, held on Aug. 4, was a going away party for Rose, DreamFlight’s Douglas DC-3.
The Boeing Company recently purchased Rose and gifted the aircraft to the Wings of a Dream Museum (Museo Asas de um Sonho) in Sao Carlos, Brazil.
John and Betty Pappas own DreamFlight. Since purchasing Rose a decade years ago, John Pappas has trained and type-rated hundreds of captains and first officers in the DC-3. The aircraft has also been used to train individuals in DC-3 maintenance.
Rose was originally built in 1943 at the Douglas Aircraft factory in Santa Monica as a C-53 Skytrooper. The aircraft dropped paratroopers during the D-Day invasion of Europe in June 1944. Following her military duties, Rose flew for Pan American World Airways on their Panagra Central and South American routes, including Brazil. Corporate, commuter airlines and other endeavors filled the middle years of her flying career. Ten years ago, the Pappas purchased her from a businessman in Oregon.
Rose, which has flown about 29,000 hours, has been a favorite at air shows, tours and events around the country. The DC-3 recently made a seven-week national tour for a Turner Classic movie. She was featured in June on the History Channel series, “Our Generation—Come Fly With Me.”
John Pappas, who earned his pilot license in 1960, at the age of 17, has more than 15,000 flight hours.
“I’ve flown everything from Piper Cubs to corporate jets,” he said. “I’ve never flown airliners, other than reciprocating old vintage types and helicopters.”
He said they’ve been fortunate to have such a wonderful airplane as Rose.
“The best thing Rose has brought us is the wonderful people we’ve met over the years,” he said.
Betty Pappas said that losing Rose is “very bittersweet.”
“It’s been a very big part of our life,” she said.
John and Betty Pappas will be flying to Brazil on a modified great-circle route, with three other DreamFlight pilots. The journey is expected to take 25 days.
“We’ll make 13 stops, in Mexico and virtually every Central American country—longer than a direct flight of 5,260 miles,” John Pappas said.
Prior to the DC-3’s departure, well-wishers lined up along the taxiway paralleling Corona Airport’s runway. They waved goodbye as Rose lifted off, at 11 a.m., then turned around for a downwind, low, high-speed pass over the runway, before heading off on the first leg of the flight to Brazil.