Contemporary Non-fiction: Douglas Propliners, by Arthur Pearcy

This is a concise, dry but meticulously researched story of Douglas’s “Magnificent Seven,” which are among the most important and elegant propeller planes ever built.

For those of you who are staying for my second sentence: great machines are great art. The DC-3, in its own way, is as well worth looking at as a Rembrandt, and has the added bonus of having invented modern commercial aviation. When it arrived in 1936, as a redesigned and expanded DC-2, it was the first plane in history that could actually make a profit carrying passengers. (Previously airlines supported themselves almost exclusively on US Mail and usually lost money anyway.) It could carry 21 passengers, which was a lot in those days, and could make it from New York to Chicago non-stop – a tremendous achievement. It cost an airline about 72 cents per mile flown to operate. And it was fantastically elegant – indeed, beautiful. One of the most beautiful machines of a century replete and overflowing with beautiful machinery.

An American Airlines DC-3 (DST)

Two years after its introduction, commercial passenger traffic in the US had more than doubled and the DC-3 was carrying 95 percent of it. Every major airline, scads of minor ones, and thirty foreign airlines were flying this plane.

The twin-engined DC-3 and it’s four-engined big brother, the DC-4, served in the Second World War by the thousands as troop transports and cargo planes (designated principally as the C-47 and C-54). A DC-4 was Roosevelt’s version of Air Force One. Churchill’s private plane was also a DC-4. The DC-3 and the DC-4 made possible the Berlin Airlift, flying 92 million miles and delivering almost 2 million tons of food and supplies to save the city from a Soviet-imposed starvation. These are important, pivotal machines.

The greatness of the DC-3 and DC-4 in commercial aviation, and their role in winning the war and securing the peace, were such that Douglas Aircraft never fully recovered. It was a literally staggering success. Douglas was so busy building its planes (especially during the war, when the government forbade them to devote any significant time to non-essential research and development) that other companies beat them to the future and Douglas never caught up. In 1943, Lockheed came out with the Constellation – also a superbly elegant plane – which could fly nonstop coast-to-coast. In 1958, Boeing launched the 707 and the jet age.

In 1967, Douglas merged with McDonnell. And in 1997, with the further collapse of a great American industry, McDonnell Douglas merged with its former rival, Boeing.

But the DC-3 remained the darling of small airlines and is still flown by a few outfits today, having outlived both the company that made it and nearly every plane that made it obsolete (there are more DC-3s flying today than Boeing 707s).

Even great designs rarely survive more than a few years; only something truly revolutionary, like the cross-strung grand piano or Browning’s semi-automatic pistol, make it for decades. The DC-3 just turned 79.

Manliness: 10/10

Plane-iness: 10/10

Narrativity: 3/10

Overall Goodness Rating (OGR): Doesn’t really matter. You’re not likely to read it anyway, unless you want to be a 1930s airline pilot when you grow up. Which I do.

Douglas Propliners, by Arthur Pearcy. Airlife Publishing, Ltd, 1995. 160 pages.

485 thoughts on “Contemporary Non-fiction: Douglas Propliners, by Arthur Pearcy

  1. Pingback: online cialis
  2. Pingback: prices of cialis
  3. Pingback: Buy viagra
  4. Pingback: Drug viagra
  5. Pingback: albuterol inhaler
  6. Pingback: buy cheap viagra
  7. Pingback: cipro generic
  8. Pingback: cialis 20mg
  9. Pingback: cialis for sale
  10. Pingback: cialis canada
  11. Pingback: buy tylenol
  12. Pingback: buy chloroquine
  13. Pingback: viagra generic
  14. Pingback: viagra for sale
  15. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  16. Pingback: ed meds online
  17. Pingback: gnc ed pills
  18. Pingback: ed pills for sale
  19. Pingback: cialis online
  20. Pingback: levitra pill
  21. Pingback: levitra generic
  22. Pingback: levitra cost
  23. Pingback: viagra trial offer
  24. Pingback: cialis for sale
  25. Pingback: generic tadalafil
  26. Pingback: online loans
  27. Pingback: quick cash loans
  28. Pingback: viagra pills
  29. Pingback: best online casino
  30. Pingback: buy branded viagra
  31. Pingback: online casino usa
  32. Pingback: buy cialis
  33. Pingback: harold
  34. Pingback: mirage casino
  35. Pingback: real online casino
  36. Pingback: 5 mg cialis
  37. Pingback: cialis to buy
  38. Pingback: 20 cialis
  39. Pingback: cialis generic
  40. Pingback: slot machine
  41. Pingback: best casino online
  42. Pingback: casino gambling
  43. Pingback: play casino
  44. Pingback: buy generic viagra
  45. Pingback: tadalafil liquid
  46. Pingback: discount cialis
  47. Pingback: online casinos
  48. Pingback: buy cialis
  49. Pingback: generic cialis
  50. Pingback: Viagra 25mg coupon
  51. Pingback: cialis dosage
  52. Pingback: online viagra
  53. Pingback: otc viagra
  54. Pingback: lasix 100mg cheap
  55. Pingback: abilify 15mg price
  56. Pingback: arava 20mg uk
  57. Pingback: strattera 25mg nz
  58. Pingback: aricept 10 mg cost
  59. Pingback: benicar 20 mg nz
  60. Pingback: catapres otc
  61. Pingback: ceclor tablets
  62. Pingback: celexa online
  63. Pingback: doubleu casino
  64. Pingback: slots online
  65. Pingback: casino game
  66. Pingback: slot games
  67. Pingback: red dog casino
  68. Pingback: super viagra uk
  69. Pingback: cialis online
  70. Pingback: generic cialis buy
  71. Pingback: geico car ins
  72. Pingback: payday loans ohio
  73. Pingback: Real viagra
  74. Pingback: quick loans az
  75. Pingback: buy cbd oil online
  76. Pingback: viagra sublingual
  77. Pingback: viagra kills
  78. Pingback: assignment helper
  79. Pingback: fake essay writer
  80. Pingback: online essay
  81. Pingback: cleocin online
  82. Pingback: buy clonidine
  83. Pingback: combivent for sale
  84. Pingback: cialis tubs
  85. Pingback: cialis online
  86. Pingback: coumadin 1 mg cost
  87. Pingback: cozaar 50mg price
  88. Pingback: how to buy crestor
  89. Pingback: cheap 25mg viagra
  90. Pingback: ddavp generic
  91. Pingback: diamox 250 mg uk
  92. Pingback: cheap differin
  93. Pingback: US viagra sales
  94. Pingback: cost of elavil
  95. Pingback: etodolac canada
  96. Pingback: flomax 0,4mg cheap
  97. Pingback: order hyzaar
  98. Pingback: cheap imdur
  99. Pingback: cialis cost
  100. Pingback: cheapest imitrex
  101. Pingback: cialis vs viagra
  102. Pingback: additional info
  103. Pingback: viagra walgreens
  104. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  105. Pingback: imuran 50 mg nz
  106. Pingback: indocin generic
  107. Pingback: lopid medication
  108. Pingback: buy lopressor 50mg
  109. Pingback: birth control
  110. Pingback: micardis price
  111. Pingback: Sumycin
  112. Pingback: phenergan 25mg otc
  113. Pingback: procardia nz
  114. Pingback: provigil pharmacy
  115. Pingback: cheap remeron 15mg
  116. Pingback: cheap revatio
  117. Pingback: robaxin cost
  118. Pingback: rogaine pills
  119. Pingback: seroquel coupon
  120. Pingback: singulair 10mg uk
  121. Pingback: spiriva 9mcg pills
  122. Pingback: thorazine 50mg otc
  123. Pingback: wellbutrin generic
  124. Pingback: zanaflex tablet
  125. Pingback: zestril tablet
  126. Pingback: you could try here
  127. Pingback: check my source
  128. Pingback: zocor medication
  129. Pingback: zovirax purchase
  130. Pingback: cheap zyprexa
  131. Pingback: prices for viagra
  132. Pingback: sildenafil usa
  133. Pingback: tadalafil for sale
  134. Pingback: furosemide cost
  135. Pingback: fexofenadine pills
  136. Pingback: leflunomide canada
  137. Pingback: donepezil usa
  138. Pingback: buy cialis toronto
  139. Pingback: clozapine otc
  140. Pingback: cost of carvedilol
  141. Pingback: warfarin pharmacy
  142. Pingback: tolterodine pills
  143. Pingback: cialis shelf life
  144. Pingback: phenytoin nz
  145. Pingback: buy cialis now
  146. Pingback: 141genericExare
  147. Pingback: 141generic2Exare
  148. Pingback: cialis pill cost
  149. Pingback: lfuifbny
  150. Pingback: hkmctgqd
  151. Pingback: cheapest glipizide
  152. Pingback: isosorbide cheap
  153. Pingback: price cialis 20 mg
  154. Pingback: comprar cialis
  155. Pingback: cialis
  156. Pingback: buy viagra
  157. Pingback: cialis in europe
  158. Pingback: comprar viagra
  159. Pingback: english essay help
  160. Pingback: terbinafine nz
  161. Pingback: furosemide cost
  162. Pingback: ivermectin 4 mg
  163. Pingback: buy gemfibrozil
  164. Pingback: prednisolone cream
  165. Pingback: diflucan walgreens
  166. Pingback: fact propecia
  167. Pingback: neurontin 400mg
  168. Pingback: metformin bloating
  169. Pingback: paxil dosage forms
  170. Pingback: paxil recall

Comment