To the sound of Vera Lynn singing ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’, Aer Lingus unveiled the return of that most iconic of aircraft the DC-3 in hanger 6 at Dublin Airport.Guest of honour at the event was 88-year-old Margaret McLoone from Rush, Co Dublin, who flew on the DC-3 as a hostess in the 1950s. Then known as Margaret Bergin, she operated her first flight on a DC-3 and even met her late husband Dinny onboard, who at that time was an Aer Lingus Second Officer.
As it is tradition with Aer Lingus aircraft to be named after Irish saints, this DC-3 has been named St Gall, which was the name of an Aer Lingus DC-3 aircraft from the 1950s.
Aer Lingus took delivery of its first Douglas DC-3 in April 1940, making it the fifth aircraft type to be operated by the airline and the first scheduled flight was a Dublin to Liverpool service on 7th May 1940. A total of 19 DC-3s were in use by Aer Lingus until 1964, flying from Dublin to UK destinations such as London, Manchester and Birmingham. The aircraft type operated its first Aer Lingus European service to Paris in 1946, with Amsterdam following in 1947.
While 32 passengers was the maximum capacity of a DC-3 aircraft, today, more than half a century later, Aer Lingus carries as many as 317 passengers across the Atlantic on its Airbus A330 aircraft. What was a fleet of a five aircraft in 1940 is today a fleet of 63 comprising largely of modern Airbus aircraft. Now flying to more than 100 routes across the UK and Europe, together with 13 direct routes to North America, Aer Lingus operates Airbus A320 and A321 on short-haul routes and A330 aircraft on long-haul routes.
Stephen Kavanagh, Aer Lingus Chief Executive, said: “This event gives us the opportunity to reflect Ireland’s proud aviation heritage, the tradition of service at Aer Lingus and to remember all those who have contributed to the success story that is Aer Lingus today.”
The DC-3 aircraft returned to Ireland at the invitation of The Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF) who were eager to celebrate the DC-3 and its contribution to Irish aviation.
Michael Hickey, Chairman, Irish Historic Flight Foundation, said: “The venerable queen of the skies is in Ireland once again and on behalf of the IHFF I would like to thank the contributions and efforts of everyone who helped make this happen. Particular thanks to Hugh Flynn of ASL Aviation Holdings who was responsible for bringing the aircraft to Ireland and to Aer Lingus for their generous support.”
Eamonn Brennan, Chief Executive, Irish Aviation Authority, added: “We are delighted to see this wonderful aircraft in all its glory. Well done and thanks to all involved. We are really looking forward to seeing the DC-3 participating with the IHFF in two spectacular air shows over this coming weekend at Foynes and at Bray, as part the IAA’s ‘Aviation Ireland’ campaign. Aviation is a hugely important economic driver for our country and we see these air shows are a great way of raising the profile of our deep aviation heritage and to generate an interest in our industry.”