Aviation Center buys vintage passenger plane

(AP) – Officials are hoping to take an historic plane on a flying tour of Wisconsin communities formerly served by a regional airline that shut down in 1979.

The Aviation Heritage Center bought one of only three known remaining Douglass DC-3 plans that flew for North Central Airlines, USA Today Network-Wisconsin reported. The organization is planning to permanently display it at the museum at the Sheboygan County Airport and potentially take it on tour.

“There were only 600 DC- 3's, only 32 flew for North Central, only three of those are still flying, and we have one of them _ and we're going to bring it back to Wisconsin,” said Jon Helminiak, executive director of the avia- tion museum. “We want to use it as a tool to educate people about North Central Airlines and the importance that North Central had to aviation in the Great Lakes – and to expose what mainstream air travel was like in the ’40s and ’50s.”

The DC-3 flew for the airline as a passenger plane from 1953 to 1964 before it was reconfigured into a cargo liner and used by the airline from 1965 to 1968.

The plane has been kept in southern California for the past two decades by an owner who has spent thousands of dollars restoring and repairing it.

“The former owner was so enamored and so pleased with the fact that we were going to take his airplane and return it to its North Central lineage that he took a $25,000 hit on the sale price so we could have it,” Helminiak said.

The museum still needs approximately $40,000 in donations to paint the aircraft back to its original colors and fly it to the airport.

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