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People: Bryan DouglassPeople: Bryan Douglass

Pilot, author pens D-Day story

The mission seemed simple enough, says Bryan Douglass: Completely restore a 75-year-old historic DC–3 and fly it from Montana to France for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the D-Day invasion, with no volunteers and no money, in less than a year, with a crew that had only a few hours of experience flying one.
Pilot Briefing September 2020
Photography by Keely Flatow

Ride along with author and pilot Bryan Douglass, the rest of the flight crew, the volunteers, paratroopers, World War II veterans, and others in Every Reason to Fail: The Unlikely Story of Miss Montana and the D-Day Squadron, an inspirational story of an impossible dream that almost didn’t come true.

Miss Montana was the underdog of the D-Day Squadron and her crew faced insurmountable odds, constant delays, and a shortage of nearly everything except determination. The idea of crossing the North Atlantic in a 75-year-old, newly restored airplane only a few hours after her first flight would terrify most, but Douglass introduces you to the people who believed it could be done. “The transatlantic journey of the D-Day Squadron’s ‘Mighty Fifteen’ was an incredible feat, but the story of Miss Montana is the best of them all,” says Douglass.

Douglass did not begin flight training until later in life and was so enamored he quickly moved from private pilot rating to instrument and built his own Van’s RV–10. With the Miss Montana project his learning accelerated even faster. “I knew that if I wanted to go along on the trip itself—and boy, did I—I would need to get my multiengine, tailwheel, commercial, and DC–3 type rating in a year. I finished the SIC DC–3 type rating two days before we left. I was the newest DC–3 pilot in the world, I’m fairly certain. It was the trip of a lifetime and I just had to tell the story.”

Every Reason to Fail: The Unlikely Story of Miss Montana and the D-Day Squadron is available on Amazon and

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Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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