C-47 Placid Lassie
U.S. Army Air Force
Our C-47, Placid Lassie is a real war hero and a veteran of D-day and operations Market Garden (Netherlands), Repulse (the relief of Bastogne) and Varsity. Read about her history below!
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Built in Long Beach, California by the Douglas Aircraft Company as a C-47, US Army Air Force order number AC-20669. Her contract number (or serial number) was 9926. On July 26, 1943 she was turned over to the U.S. Government and assigned the military registration number 42-24064. The cost to build her was $109,683.
From Long Beach she was flown to:
• Baer Field (Fort Wayne, IN) on July 29, 1943
• Daggett Air Base (13 miles east of Barstow, CA) on July 31, 1943
• Bookley Field (near Mobile, AL) by August 8, 1943
Assigned to the 74th Troop Carrier Squadron (TCS), 434th Troop Carrier Group (TCG). The 74th was activated on February 19 1943 in Alliance, NE.
July 1943 to Nov 1945
U.S. Army Air Force
• South Atlantic crossing (Sept. 23 to Oct 18, 1943)
• Operation NEPTUNE (June 6 1944)—Normandy Invasion
• Operation MARKET GARDEN September 17- 25 1944) – Netherlands
• Operation REPULSE (Dec. 23-25, 1944) – Relief of Bastogne
• Operation VARSITY (March 23, 1945) Rhine Crossing
• South Atlantic crossing (June 22-July 6, 1945)
Pictured is 1st Lt. Richard Lumm, the pilot of Placid Lassie during World War II. He survived the war.
After WWII, Placid Lassie was flown to the Reconstruction Finance Company in Walnut Ridge, AR on November 19, 1945. The RFC was a U.S. Government company with the mission to dispose of about 150,000 WWII aircraft via storage, sale or scrapping.
Purchased by NATS Air Transport Service, December 6, 1949
Oakland, CA had been a hub of the Naval Air Transport Service (commonly referred to as NATS) during World War II and is likely the origin of the name of Placid Lassie's new owners. NATS Air Transport Service soon had financial difficulties, didn't pay taxes resulting in Placid Lassie being seized by the IRS in late 1948. She was then sold to Placid Lassie's mortgage holder on February 24, 1949 and then resold to a person in Los Angeles on March 3, 1949.
Purchased by West Coast Airlines, May 16, 1949
West Coast Airlines began operations in November 1946 for the purpose of carrying passengers and mail based out of the Pacific northwest. WCA bought C-47s, converted them to DC-3 specification, and were based out of Boeing Field near Seattle, WA. WCA flew routes from Seattle to San Francico and to Boise, ID. Placid Lassie was the sixth aircraft in the WCA fleet numbered #106. WCA became Air West and phased out their DC-3 fleet in 1968.
Purchased by Aero-Dyne Corp, June 10, 1968
Aero-Dyne was founded in 1965, offered aircraft charters and aircraft maintenance, and may have used their DC-3 aircraft for type rating training. Aero-Dyne purchased Placid Lassie from Air West along with most of the former Air West DC-3 fleet. Areo-Dyne operated out of Renton Field in Renton, VA, until 1985.
Purchased by Saber Cargo Airlines, April 12, 1984
Saber Aviation/ Saber Cargo Airlines was based out of Charlotte, SC. At least six DC-3s are known to have been with Saber over the years. Saber had financial difficulties and went bankrupt 2003. Placid Lassie was repossessed by the bank holding her mortgage on April 30, 1992 based on breaches of the loan agreement dating back to June 1989.
Purchased by Express Air Inc, July 5, 1992
Express Air Cargo was a charter company run by Jurmie E. Watkins and Dennis G. Mount based on Simpsonville, SC. The company was formed on March 16, 1990 and dissolved on March 19, 2000.
Dodson International Air
Dodson International Air was based at Covington Municipal Airport, Georgia. In the late 1990s Dodson was operating four DC-3s, including Placid Lassie. Lassie was still owned by Express Air, so she must have been leased to Dodson. Circa 2000 Placid Lassie had major engine issues and was parked due to lack of funds for repairs. The FBO at Convington field, Dixie Jet Services, Inc eventually sued Mr. Watkins and Mr. Mount. The court awarded ownership of Placid Lassie to Dixie Jet on March 10, 2008. In the mean time Placid Lassie had sat in tall weeds at the edge of the ramp for a decade.
In 2010 was the the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the DC-3. Clive Edwards, a DC-3 restoration expert, and James Lyle were determined to find a “dead” DC-3, and return it to flight status. Their goal was to complete the restoration and fly it to Oshkosh AirVenture for the 75th anniversary celebration. After considering many candidates across the nation and the Caribbean, they decided to acquire Placid Lassie. On May 13, 2010 Wells Fargo Bank became the owner of Placid Lassie acting as the agent for Mr. Lyle. A Union Jack flag was painted on the fuselage and she was named Union Jack Dak.
Seven weeks before AirVenture 2010 in Oshkosh, the restoration crew arrived in Covington and began their herculean task. The DC-3 was pulled out the weeds, wings removed, engines overhauled. Since the log books were missing all Service Bulletins and Airworthiness Directives had to be applied. They worked 17 hour days, 7 days a week. Their motto was "No sleep 'til Oshkosh."
After two successful test flights, Union Jack Dak triumphantly arrived at AirVenture mid-week.
Clive Edwards raced to restore “Union Jack Dack” in time to attend EAA AirVenture’s 75th Anniversary of the first flight of the DC-3
After flying Placid Lassie for a few years and the 2014 Normandy mission, James Lyle decided that Placid Lassie needed to seen by the public more often, share her history and teach the children about World War II. He and Eric Zipkin formed a 501c3 foundation to operate Placid Lassie. They decided to name it after Ed Tunison who had recently passed. Mr. Lyle donated Placid Lassie to the new Tunison Foundation.
How Union Jack Dak became Placid Lassie
The original plan was to sell the DC-3 after Oshkosh, but the team greatly enjoyed flying the aircraft. Historical research then revealed that the DC-3 was originally a C-47 and flew for the United States Army Air Force. She was a combat veteran, and more important, a D-Day veteran. How could we sell that? The aircraft was painted in D-Day colors, but she was still named Union Jack Dak.
In 2014, James Lyle, Eric Zipkin and others flew Union Jack Dak to England and then to Normandy for the 70th D-Day anniversary celebration. There they met Hans den Brok, a Dutch author and expert on the C-47s of the MARKET GARDEN operation, in which Union Jack Dak participated. Hans said the aircraft had flown with the 74th Transport Troop Squadron, and the one of the crew members, Ed Tunison, was still alive.
Ed was quickly contacted and flown to Belgium so he could again see his plane. When re-united, he informed the crew that during the war the C-47 was known as Placid Lassie and photos were obtained. Union Jack Dak instantly became Placid Lassie.
Photograph of during WWII of Ed Tunison and in 2014.