Piedmont Airlines DC-3 - The Potomac Pacemaker
The N.C. Transportation Museum features unique and engaging aviation pieces. The museum is home to the restoration of the Piedmont Airlines DC-3, also known as the Potomac Pacemaker. The cosmetic restoration of this piece has been the primary focus for aviation volunteers at the museum for several years.
Piedmont Airlines D C Three The Potomac pacemaker last flew for the Winston Salem based air carrier in 1963 It has twice been rescued from deterioration and will soon be a massive component of the North Carolina transportation museums Aviation displays The aircraft was actually built not as a D C Three a commercial passenger plane but under the military designation C 53 Created as a true paller built in March of 1942 at the Douglas Aircraft Companies Santa Monica California plant The airplane remained in the United States during World War Two and was given over to civilian service in 1945 used by Western Airlines based in California Piedmont Airlines purchased the airplane now redesignated as a commercial D C three in 1956 registered it as in 56 V and dubbed her the Potomac pacemaker Piedmont Airlines had been founded eight years earlier by Tom Davis with the company primarily using D C three used to fly their short routes to serve numerous cities across North Carolina as well as northward to Cincinnati Ohio and Louisville Kentucky Eastward to Norfolk Virginia and southward to Myrtle Beach South Carolina as the airline moved into the 19 sixties Other aircraft joined the ranks The company's revenues were up and larger airplanes begin to edge out the 28 passenger D C threes The Potomac pacemaker was retired in 1963 just a few short years before Boeing 7 27 jets began flying for the company carrying more than 120 passengers at a time and able to serve flights to Atlanta and New York City Piedmont would go on to grow into a major player in air travel eventually being absorbed by US Air In 1989 the Potomac pacemaker was the final D C three to fly for Pete Month It had logged 48,000 hours in the air In its days of flying were finished The plane became property of the Charlotte Aircraft Company eventually becoming derelict in 1978 The Potomac pacemaker was purchased by the Museum of Life and Science in Durham North Carolina Piedmont Airlines in an effort to preserve its own history provided $20,000 replacement engines and propellers and later another $7000 to paint the aircraft into its original color scheme The D C three remained on display there for nearly 25 years before being purchased by the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation in 2002 After a year and 1/2 of planning and preparation for the move dispenser the D C three took up residence in the back shop in 2004 It was a new beginning for the Potomac pacemaker but the airplane had only been partially restored during its time in Durham and a full restoration was needed It was April of 2010 The restoration work truly began Former Piedmont Airlines officials Bob Read Howard Miller and stewardess Carol Dobbins Fair all pushed hard for the restoration and work to garner attention to the project and to bring in volunteers many of them former Yvonne employees to perform the work Students at Guilford Technical Community Colleges Aviation Program aided in the restoration as well and the work continues Saturday's Each month DC three restoration crew gathers to restore deteriorated pieces of the airplane to clean and repair what once streaked through the sky and to eventually make her whole again The restoration is now led by Bill Wilkerson himself a flight captain for people on airlines and later US air He has been instrumental to seeing the project through Crews are in the final stretch now It won't be long until the Piedmont Airlines D C Three p Potomac pacemaker is whole once more telling the story of an airline illustrating the history of post World War two commercial air travel and representing a major chapter of aviation history