The museum began in 1986 with a single C-47A that was rejected as "beyond salvage" by other museums. Today it stands immaculately restored, complete with D-Day invasion stripes, as it was when it served with the 61st Troop Carrier Squadron in World War II. Its extensive combat history is meticulously documented with actual photos and memorabilia donated by former crewmembers. This plane, "Turf & Sport Special," was the centerpiece of a reunion in July 1990, that included the D-Day pilot, aerial engineer, and three of the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers who dropped into St. Mere-Eglise on June 6, 1944—forty-six years earlier.
Few aircraft are as well known or were so widely used for so long as the C-47 Skytrain, nicknamed "Gooney Bird." The aircraft was adapted from the DC-3 commercial airliner which first appeared in 1936. The first C-47s were ordered in 1940 and by the end of WWII, over 10,000 had been procured for the USAAF and U.S. Navy. They carried personnel and cargo, and in a combat role, towed troop-carrying gliders and dropped paratroops into enemy territory.
The most widely used military transport in WWII, the C-47 also saw service with the U.S. Navy as the R4D and with the RAF as the Dakota.
After WWII, many C-47s remained in USAF service, participating in the Berlin Airlift and other peacetime activities. One hundred C-47J aircraft were re-engineered by Douglas and incorporated new wings, a new, taller vertical tail, modified landing gear, and more powerful engines. They entered the U.S. Navy service under designation C-117D.
During the Korean War, the C-47s hauled supplies, dropped paratroops, evacuated wounded, and dropped flares for night bombing attacks. In Vietnam, the C-47 served again as a transport but it was also used for a variety of other missions which included flying ground attack, reconnaissance, and psychological warfare missions. The AC-47 "Spooky," a heavily-armed gunship version of the C-47, was equipped with three side-firing 7.63mm Miniguns and was nicknamed "Puff the Magic Dragon." The last C-47 was retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1975.
|The assignment history from April 21, 1944 to June 5, 1945 are excerpts from TSgt W.E. "Bing" Wood's diary, the aerial engineer of #42-92841 during that time.|
|Apr 1944||Departed US for England (Shipping Code "SOXO") and was assigned to 9th Air Force|
|21 Apr 1944||A new plane is assigned to the 61st Troop Carrier Squadron stationed in Saltby England, # 42-92841|
|5 Jun 1944||Made the Invasion Paratroop Drop at St. Mere Eglise and escaped unscathed|
|7 Jun 1944||Resupply mission as recounted by the Crew Chief, "We got well plastered with enemy fire, one explosive bullet severed an oil line and one exploded under the right rear seat, just as I stood up to put on the ear phones. If I had been still there I am afraid I would either be sitting on my stomach or worse. The plane just made it back to the field at Saltby and then quit because of lack of oil in one engine. No one was wounded but we were pretty well shaken up."|
|29 Jun 1944||A lot of flights picking up wounded from the front lines and transporting them back to England|
|26 Aug 1944||Took food to Orleans France|
|17 Sep 1944||Made the Arnhem Drop with British Paratroopers|
|26 Sep 1944||Flew to Graves Holland loaded with a jeep, motorcycle, and supplies. Very exciting trip, we brought back a War Correspondent for The Daily Sketch, and a Major of the British Airborne that had escaped from the Arnhem Pocket|
|Unknown||Took elements of the 17th Airborne to Vivay to help relieve Bastogne|
|28 Feb 1945||Moved to a new base in France|
|28 Apr -
7 May 1945
|Flying wounded from South England to Prestwick for transportation home|
|5 Jun 1945||Picked up Commandos and flew them to Oslo, to disarm the left-over Germans|
|Jan 1948||43rd Troop Carrier Squadron, Oberpfaffenhofen AF, Germany|
|1 Jul 1948||10th Troop Carrier Squadron, Erding AB, Germany|
|4 Jul 1948||61st Troop Carrier Squadron, Rhein Main, Germany|
|Aug 1948||60th Troop Carrier Squadron, Wiesbaden, Germany|
|1951||60th Troop Carrier Wing, Wiesbaden, Germany|
|1952||7150th Air Base Group, Wiesbaden, Germany|
|1954||17th Headquarters Squadron, Rabat, Morocco|
|1956||7272nd Air Base Wing, Wheelus AB, Libya|
|1959||1001st Air Base Wing, Andrews AFB, Maryland
3800 Air Base Wing, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
|1964||Dropped from U.S. Air Force inventory; turned over to U.S. Army|
|1979||Sighted at Aberdeen Proving Ground Maryland, in the "Bone Yard" with several other C-47s to be used as target material|
|1986||Declared surplus by U.S. Army at Muir Field near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It had been used a "heavy lift load" for Army CH-54 helicopters. Flown to Dover AFB, Delaware, under a Pennsylvania Army National Guard helicopter|