Historic D-Day plane at centre of air museum plan

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A SEVENTY-YEAR-OLD Douglas DC-3 Dakota which took part in D-Day and the Berlin airlift is to be flown back from Alaska to form the nucleus of a planned new air museum at its former Prestwick base.

The news coincides with today’s start of the inaugural Prestwick World Festival of Flight, a ten-day celebration to mark the centenary of aviation in the Ayrshire town.

The event’s organisers said the aircraft would be brought back next year to be housed in a hanger at the airport.

The plane, which has been donated by its owner, was the first to be operated by Scottish Airlines - Scotland’s first post-war carrier - after it was founded in 1946, flying to Belfast.

Built in 1943, the Dakota saw action at D-Day, being fired at while parachuting soldiers into Normandy.

The plane was later flown by Scottish Airlines to assist with the Berlin airlift, making 51 supply drops to Allied-controlled areas of the city while the Soviet Union blocked access in 1948-49.

Festival co-curator George Kerevan said: “Bringing it home to Prestwick is a dream come true. It will become the first exhibit in a new museum of aviation history at Scotland’s aerospace capital.

“We are already in touch with former DC-3 pilots to help us with the project. The flight will probably take place in the spring of 2014.”

The festival includes films, book talks, aircraft displays and flights. Details at: worldfestivalofflight.com