Breitling DC-3

THE NORMANDY LANDINGS PLANE

THE NORMANDY LANDINGS PLANE


An aviation legend
The Douglas DC-3 twin-engine propeller plane made its maiden flight in 1935, at a time when Breitling was producing its first onboard chronographs for civilian and military aircraft. Thanks to its performance and its long range, it revolutionized air transport. By the late 1930s, it was used by most of the major American carriers. During World War II, a number of civilian DC-3 planes were requisitioned by the US military.

The DC-3 was also manufactured in a military version named C-47. This twin-engine aircraft played a leading role in troop transport. Nicknamed ‘the Normandy landings plane’, it enjoyed its moment of fame in June 1944 by towing countless gliders and dropping thousands of paratroopers on the coasts of Normandy. During the 1950s and 60s, by which time Breitling had definitively established itself as “official supplier to world aviation”, the DC-3 was a standard fixture in the fleets of the world’s major airlines and it remained in widespread use right the way through to the 1970s. From 1935 to 1945, a total of 16,079 DC-3s were built. It continues to be used for carrying cargo or supplies and thereby represents an outstanding example of longevity. There are currently less than 150 DC-3 planes in flightworthy condition worldwide, of which around 15 are based in Europe and mainly used for historical flights – such as the Breitling DC-3.

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A veteran still up to achieving great feats
The DC-3 HB-IRJ flying under Breitling colors was delivered on March 12th 1940 to American Airlines under the name ‘Flagship Cleveland’. Between 1942 and 1944, it was hired out to the US military, which based it in Europe. After being bought up in 1949 by Trans Texas Airways, it was subsequently owned by several North American airlines. In November 2008, the pilot Francisco Agullo and a group of friends, supported by Breitling, decided to make a legendary DC-3 fly again in Switzerland and in Europe. After a lengthy search around the world, they ‘fell in love’ with this Priscilla N922CA, based in the United States. Their interest was sparked by its exceptional condition, as well as by its rich civilian and military history perfectly embodying the significance of the DC-3. The Breitling DC-3 was then restored, adapted to European standards, and brought back to Europe. Since 2009, it has been participating in a number of air shows in Europe as well as in events organized by Breitling. Operated by the Super Constellation Flyers Association, based in Switzerland, it can accommodate around 20 passengers in its non-pressurized cabin and is equipped for flying under instrument flight rules. Like the Breitling Super Constellation (one of the world’s two remaining ‘Super Connies’ in flightworthy condition), the Breitling DC-3 vividly illustrates Breitling’s determination to safeguard the finest gems in aeronautical history.

En 2017, Breitling has decided to launch its DC-3 on a grand world tour in stages, dotted with a number of stopovers providing opportunities to organize events and take part in air shows. Selected passengers will enjoy the privilege of being welcomed aboard for certain stretches. Having taken off from Geneva in March 2017, the plane must first fly to the Middle East, India, South-East Asia, China and Japan, before crossing the ocean to begin a grand tour of the United States, returning to Europe via Greenland and Iceland, and ending its epic journey in September at the 2017 Breitling Sion Airshow in Switzerland. At the venerable age of 77, the Breitling DC-3 is the oldest plane to do a world tour and this fresh claim to fame will be added to the already long list of its feats to date.

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