Onlookers cheered July 12 as a vintage Douglas DC–3 lifted off the runway at Hagerstown Municipal Airport in Maryland on its first flight since a total restoration.
It was a bittersweet occasion for the airplane’s team of restorers. An important member of the team, Stephen Van Kirk, died July 1. His name is painted on the exterior just beneath the left pilot’s window as a tribute.
Pilot in Command Jim Sells and Second in Command Mike Macario fired up the engines but had to shut down briefly because they could not hear the tower controller on the radio. After communicating with team member Malcolm Van Kirk via text message, they shut down the engines and brought him on board, where he promptly rectified the issue.
The DC–3 rumbled to Runway 20 and took off to cheers from observers on the ramp. Sells and Macario took the airplane to the practice area to perform maneuvers before returning to the airport.
“It’s really fantastic,” said Malcolm Van Kirk, who is Stephen Van Kirk’s brother. “We’ve worked really hard over the last two and a half years. The last time we had an [inspection] was in November of 2009. It probably flew some in 2010, and it has not flown since then.”
His brother would be excited to see the flight, Malcolm Van Kirk said. “Of course, our goal is to try to get the airplane to Oshkosh. We have a plan for that, if everything shakes out good for us today. We’re going to take Steve with us in spirit, and that’ll be a good thing.”
Yukon Sourdough’s team of restorers includes owners Kent Casady and Derek White.
After EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Malcolm Van Kirk said, the team hopes to take Yukon Sourdough to other airshows, and possibly to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.