02/28/2008. Remarks by Jack McKillop: "This is one of the rarest Douglas Sleeper Transports (DSTs) and DC-3s because it was built with the passenger door on the right side of the fuselage. A total of 222 DSTs and DC-3s of the 10,655 built (2.1 percent) had this configuration. The US airline American Airlines was the first customer for the DST and DC-3 which were bought to replace their Ford Tri-Motors.
The Tri-Motor had the passenger door on the right side of the fuselage and American's apron operations were arranged for this configuration so to make it easier to accommodate both types of aircraft, they ordered their 83 Douglas aircraft with the door in the same position. The US airline United Air Lines followed suit and ordered their 73 aircraft with the same door placement. A number of other US, European and Japanese airlines also had their aircraft similarly built.
Although marked in US Army Air Forces (USAAF) colors, this aircraft never severed in the US military. It was delivered to United Air Lines on October 21, 1937 registered NC18111 and named Mainliner Indiana; it was subsequently renamed Mainliner Salinas. In January 1949, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) discontinued the requirement for the second alpha character in the registration number [the "C" which indicated that the aircraft had an Approved Type Certificate (ATC)] and the registration became N18111.
United operated this aircraft until May 18, 1954 when it was sold to American Flyers Airline Corp. of Fort Worth, Texas. The owner of this company died in the early 1970s and this machine was sold to Shawnee Airlines of Orlando, Florida, on September 7, 1973 and was used to fly customers to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. Shawnee Airlines became a subsidiary of Air Florida in 1975 and this DC-3 was withdrawn from use and placed in storage at Orlando until September 1980.
It passed through several other owners until placed in storage in Sarasota, Florida, in July 1987. In 1988, it was purchased by Specialty Restaurants and displayed outdoors at the Air Transport Command Restaurant on US Highway 13 at the New Castle County Airport, New Castle, Delaware. The restaurant contained numerous memorabilia of the USAAF's World War II Air Transport Command. My wife and I had lunch at this restaurant several times and she enjoyed sitting by the windows and watching the aircraft take off and land.
This DC-3 had a difficult life outside in front of the restaurant. On one occasion, a car ran off the road and damaged an engine. By 2005, weather and lack of maintenance had taken its toll. The rudder was missing, all the fabric was gone from the control surfaces, the fuselage had numerous holes due to corrosion, and the right engine and wing were off and laying on the ground.
The restaurant closed in March 2006 and the fate of this once beautiful aircraft was in doubt but the Massey Air Museum acquired it and trucked it to their site. Museum personnel hope to restore the aircraft to a suitable condition and strip the paint leaving it in natural metal finish. There is no word if the aircraft will be painted in specific airline markings."