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Visitors to Heroes of the Sky: Adventures in Early Flight will be awed and inspired by people’s stories from the first forty years of aviation. Historic airplanes bring to life the lofty accomplishments of America’s pioneering aviators. Come honor the men and women who shaped the skies with their minds, hearts, and even their lives.

The Planes: 1939 Douglas DC-3

Length: 64' 6";
Wingspan: 95'
Weight (empty): 15,800 lbs.

Construction Materials: Aluminum, fabric on ailerons, elevators and rudder
Builder: Douglas Aircraft Company, Santa Monica, California
Cost: $110,000 new; $35,000 when bought by North Central Airlines in 1952
Number Built: 10,926 in U.S. (10,123 military, 803 civilian); about 3,500 additional Japanese and Soviet versions
Engine Type: Two Wright Cyclone, 9-cylinder, 1,000-horsepower, radial, air-cooled internal combustion engines
Engine Builder: Wright Aeronautical Company, Patterson, New Jersey
Configuration: 1-pilot/21-passenger tractor monoplane
Maximum Speed: 190 m.p.h.

Flying into the Record Books
As an airliner for Eastern Airlines and North Central Airlines, this DC-3:

  • Flew more than 12 million miles in 83,032 hours
  • Used 550 main gear tires and 25,000 spark plugs
  • Wore out 136 engines
  • Consumed almost 9 million gallons of gasoline
  • Taxied over 100,000 miles
  • Flew an additional 1,843 hours after being refitted as a corporate plane
When it was donated to the Museum in 1975, it had spent more time aloft than any other airplane in history. That record has since been broken by another DC-3.

The Planes: 1939 Sikorsky VS300A Helicopter

Length: 27' 10" (including tail rotor tip)
Rotor Diameter: 28';
Weight (empty): 1,290 lbs.

Construction Materials: Welded steel tube fuselage with fabric covering
Builder: Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Company, a division of United Aircraft Corporation, Stratford, Connecticut
Cost: $60,000
Number Built: 1
Engine Type: Franklin, 50-horsepower, horizontally-opposed, air-cooled internal combustion engine
Engine Builder: H.H. Franklin Manufacturing Company, Syracuse, New York
Configuration: 1-pilot, single-rotor helicopter
Maximum Speed: 60 m.p.h.
Important Feature: First helicopter to use a practical single-rotor design

The One and Only
During a demonstration in 1940, Sikorsky flew the helicopter backward, sideways, up and down – he even spun around. But he didn’t fly forward. “That is one of the minor engineering problems we have not yet solved.” By 1941, Sikorsky solved the problem.

Sikorsky donated this plane to the Museum in 1943. "With suspiciously moist eyes, he turned to Henry Ford and said, 'You know, she was a good ship, she was a sweet, sweet little ship,'" according to his son, Sergei.

Wright Flyer Replica