Members of the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum in Geneseo, N.Y., were overwhelmed on Christmas weekend when it was announced that a C-47 was donated to the museum.
The C-47 cargo aircraft, affectionately known as the “Gooney Bird,” was the workhorse of the Army Air Corps, serving in all theaters during World War II. In the civilian world, as the DC-3, it helped to establish U.S. airlines.
Curators at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution reveal this C-47 has an amazing history. It originally served with the 12th Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater in 1943 and the 9th Air Force in England in 1944-1945 as part of the 316th Troop Carrier Group. It was one of the lead aircraft of the first strike of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, over Ste. Mere Eglise, Normandy. It transported paratroopers for the 82nd Airborne Division as part of Operation Neptune.
It is believed the aircraft participated in Operation Market Garden in the Arnhem and Nijmegen sectors of the Netherlands on Sept. 17, 1944. It probably towed gliders carrying paratrooper reinforcements to the “Bridge Too Far.” It also took part in various other missions in the European theater of World War II, towing gliders and transporting paratroopers, medical supplies and personnel.
It was purchased by a private individual several years after World War II. He converted it to a posh executive aircraft, with an interior containing plush seating for 14 people, a galley, a bar and a bathroom.
The donation, a landmark acquisition for the Historical Aircraft Group, will be used to encourage veterans of the 82nd Airborne Division, as well as all other veterans, to visit the museum and retell stories of their military experiences. Because it is flyable, the aircraft will become a traveling history lesson, reaching out to other communities.
The C-47 joins other historic aircraft in the museum’s fleet, including a B-17, another C-47, a C-119, an A-1 Skyraider, an Antonov and a T-6 that are housed in a new hangar at the Geneseo Airport.
For more information: 585-243-2100.