The year 2010 marks the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the iconic Douglas DC-3 and what is likely to be last time for a large reunion of aluminum and engines with the people that saw it all. The Last Time’s four-day reunion activities at Whiteside County Airport, in Rock Falls, Illinois, on July 23-26, are free and open to the public, and general aviation aircraft parking and camping are available as well. All DC-3 aircraft will be parked together, and events include aircraft tours, public rides, demonstrations, entertainment and music, extensive hangar flying and storytelling by all those invited to share the DC-3 experience — and a mass formation fly-by sure to be a record-setting event. The mass formation flight will launch from Whiteside County Airport on the afternoon of Monday, July 26.
Many of those expected to attend the reunion are pilots and veterans of World War II, like Jack Jackson, who commanded a C-47 during three missions towing American and British gliders during the D-Day invasion of Europe, and in the countless supply and evacuation missions that followed. Jackson will be flying to the reunion to share his experiences with fellow vets, and to once again fly in the airplane that he flew during the war.
Jackson was 19 years old when he graduated from single-engine pilot training in April 1943. “I wanted to be a fighter pilot, so at the time, I was disappointed. In a short time, though, I was delighted with the assignment, the people I flew with and served with,” Jackson recalls. “The mission required precision flight — you had to drop the troops or the gliders precisely. It was a very demanding duty.” Jackson was assigned to the 72nd Troop Carrier Squadron; his unit stopped holding reunions almost 10 years ago, making The Last Time event a very special.
The Last Time is an organization created for the sole purpose of reuniting flying examples of the Douglas DC-3 and the people associated with them, for one last time. For more information: TheLastTime.org. Those individuals planning to attend should register at the interactive “Virtual Reunion Board”