The C-53 N8336, previously known as Spirit of Benovia, has been renamed Spirit of Douglas and a brand new livery was applied by DC-3 restoration experts Aerometal International, Inc. in the U.S. The fully restored C-53 has been renamed in honor of Donald Douglas Sr., who is considered the father of commercial aviation. In 1914, Douglas was the first person to be awarded a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering at MIT, completing the four-year course in half the time. After several years with the Glenn Martin Company where he rose to chief engineer at the age of 23, Douglas struck out on his own with the Douglas Aircraft Company and went from employing 22 people to being the fourth-largest business in the US during WWII.

Spirit of Douglas was built at Douglas Aircraft’s plant in Santa Monica, California, and accepted by the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) on June 29th, 1942. The C-53 was primarily designed to drop paratroopers and tow gliders and differs from the C-47 in having a lighter strength floor and no double cargo door. She flew out to Karachi, India (now in Pakistan) in August 1942, initially for service with the Royal Air Force as serial FJ712, but transferred to the 1st Troop Carrier Squadron, 10th Air Force, USAAF in late December 1942, serving the rest of the war in the CBI Theatre. She went into civilian ownership in India, then China right after WWII, being owned for a while by General Claire Chennault, reportedly flying Chiang Kai-shek in the Civil Air Transport company out of Taipei, Formosa (now Taiwan).


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During the mid-50s, the aircraft received a luxurious VIP interior and an AiResearch Maximizer speed kit. She passed through several other owners over the years, including the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum during the 1980s until its last owners Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane, owners of Benovia Winery in California. The aircraft is currently owned and lovingly cared for by a New Zealand-based family.

In 2019 the then-named Spirit of Benovia flew to Europe as part of the D-Day Squadron’s contingent.

The Spirit of Douglas will take part in D-Day commemoration events in Europe in mid-2024 before retracing sectors from its past in North America, Asia, and India. The Spirit of Douglas project is being funded by a family inspired by history. Its journey throughout 2024 is being captured by award-winning French filmmaker Gregory Le Moigne who will produce a documentary telling the story of the history of the DC3, the history of the Spirit of Douglas, and the key role of the pioneering and innovative Donald Douglas Sr. in connecting people and trade globally. The documentary is expected to be released in the fullness of time.