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Donated C-47 has engine failure on way to museum

Was en route to Chinese museum

A volunteer group that restored a Douglas C-47 Skytrain in Australia for donation to the Flying Tigers Heritage Park and Museum in Guilin, China, had an engine failure halfway to Guilin and is hoping to raise funds for a replacement.
The "Buzz Buggy" crew is stuck in Surabaya, Indonesia, awaiting engine repairs. Shown left to right: Alan Searle of Australia, Dale Mueller of the United States, Tom Claytor of the United States, and Barry Arlow of Australia, and sitting on the wing, project founder Larry Jobe of the United States.

At the moment the mostly elderly crew is stuck in Surabaya, Indonesia, until another engine arrives. The group has started a funding program to pay for the engine replacement.

Tom Claytor, the youngest of the group at age 53 and one of the pilots, said the four pilots and one mechanic have a combined age of 342 years. He sent an email to friends in the United States. The photo was taken during refueling operations in Bali just prior to the flight during which the engine was lost.

“We lost the left engine yesterday at 1 hr 30min out of Bali over water. Smoke, 15 seconds later severe vibration, then fire. We were full fuel. We shut it down and diverted ‎to Surabaya on Java where landed safely 30 minutes later. Engine totally destroyed. Threw #5 cylinder after crack at the base, put a hole in the cowling. We were barely able to maintain 8,500' and ran the right engine at 32" which is Max Continuous power.”

In all, 600 aircraft and 740 crew, many of them American, were lost flying resupply missions across “The Hump” to China during World War II. A museum already exists where Gen. Claire Chennault stood on a rock outside his command cave to observe aircraft. The cave interior was destroyed to keep it from falling into enemy hands, but there are plans to restore it. The museum is the Flying Tiger Guilin Heritage Park. The aircraft was acquired by Larry Jobe, 76, a California real estate businessman and retired United Airlines pilot. 

The C-47 Skytrain is the military equivalent of the DC-3.

The annual inspection on the aircraft, nicknamed Buzz Buggy, expires at the end of October, so the crew is anxious to install the new engine and finish the journey. The project was on a limited budget when the flight began.

Alton Marsh
Alton K. Marsh
Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.
Topics: Vintage

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