Restore the Roar – Help Get a WWII Veteran C-53 Skytrooper Back in the Air!

Beach City Baby awaiting her engine start. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)
Beach City Baby awaiting her engine start. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)
Beach City Baby awaiting her engine start. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)

Back in May, 2016, WarbirdsNews published a story HERE about Jason Capra and his efforts to save a forlorn WWII-veteran Douglas C-53 Skytrooper 41-20095 that he found sitting, more or less abandoned, at a grass strip in Beach City, Ohio. The aircraft has a fascinating history, both from its military service, then later as a civilian airliner and VIP transport afterwards (details in above mentioned article). Suffice to say, Capra realized he had to save this important piece of our aviation heritage. He formed the nonprofit corporation Vintage Wings, Inc. to purchase the tired troop transport, and restore her back to her former glory. ‘From small beginnings come great things’, as the saying goes, and Capra managed to gather together a group of similarly motivated enthusiasts and aviation professions to help begin the task of refurbishing the Skytrooper. But first he needed to negotiate a purchase price with the owner, and raise the necessary capital to do so. Such was the talent pool within Vintage Wings, and the demonstration of their fundraising efforts, that the owner allowed them to begin restoration before all of the money was in place to complete the transaction. As we showed in our previous article, Capra and the Vintage Wings team took advantage of this opportunity, and quickly dived into the hard graft of preparing the Douglas transport for her new life. While they worked on the aircraft, they also tackled the fundraising campaign. We will let the Vintage Wings press release continue the story from here…

Scaffolding surrounds Beach City Baby's port engine as the crew works on it. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)
Scaffolding surrounds Beach City Baby’s port engine as the crew works on it. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)

Fast forward to April of this year: Our”Save Beach City Baby” campaign was successful and Douglas DC-3/C-53 41-20095 became the property of Vintage Wings, Inc. While that incredibly challenging goal has been met, her safety is far from guaranteed, as she still remains outside, and is too big for any hangar at the small airfield. We have accelerated the process of getting her airworthy, and also struck a deal at Washington County Airport in Pennsylvania for a climate-controlled hangar for her full restoration and safe storage into the future.

Work to restore the empennage is clearly evident in this image. Everything painted in green primer has been renewed. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)
Work to restore the empennage is clearly evident in this image. Everything painted in green primer has been renewed. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)

Vintage Wings, Inc. has come a long way in just under two years. Some of the more major milestones already accomplished include removal of the aging corporate interior and restoration of cockpit instrumentation, radios and control panels. All control surfaces have been removed, rebuilt and recovered. The entire aircraft has been completely rewired, which enabled Vintage Wing’s latest milestone – the restoration and starting of the right engine!

Starting up the right engine.  (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)
Starting up the right engine. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)
A video still showing the right engine at work! (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)
A video still showing the right engine at work! (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)

All of these items couldn’t have been accomplished without the hard work and determination of the entire Vintage Wings crew and gracious donations from contributors. Our rally cry of “Restore The Roar” has been a driving force that describes our commitment and tireless resolve.

Inside the troop transport, we can see that the tired old executive interior is now a thing of the past. The restoration team has stripped it all out, and will begin replacing the seats with the style originally meant for the C-53 during WWII. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)
Inside the troop transport, we can see that the tired old executive interior is now a thing of the past. The restoration team has stripped it all out, and will begin replacing the seats with the style originally meant for the C-53 during WWII. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)



We only have a small list of major items left to restore in order to get ‘Beach City Baby’ back in the air and to the safety of the new Vintage Wings hangar. They include:

1.) Revitalization of the Left Engine, Estimated cost: $15,000
2.) Restoration of the Brakes & Landing gear piston for right main gear, Estimated cost: $10,000
3.) Replacement of the Tires, Estimated cost: $4,000
4.) Replacement of Control Cables, Estimated cost: $10,000
5.) Fuel & Oil for taxi test and flight to Washington, Pa: $3,500

Speed is paramount to these efforts, as ‘Beach City Baby’ is still sitting exposed to the elements on a rural Ohio grass airfield. The quicker we return this veteran aircraft to airworthiness, the faster she can rest in the safety of our hangar to undergo final restoration by our talented Pittsburgh members and student volunteers that anxiously await her arrival.

A view of the work progressing with the port engine.  (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)
A view of the work progressing with the port engine. (photo via Vintage Wings, Inc.)

Once restored, the ultimate goal is to create a flying classroom. The cabin will become a mobile living and breathing history museum. Static aircraft in museums serve a distinct and valuable purpose, but a flying aircraft with all its sights, sounds and smells simply cannot be replicated in a museum. Learning modules will be built and installed onboard in the cabin that showcase key points in this particular DC-3’s lifetime that align with key points in aviation history and technical advances.

Guests will see the significance of her role as a military C-53 in winning the war and as a DC-3A creating the model for the modern air transportation system. Flying into air shows, fly-ins and other aviation related events, she will offer more than just a silent and empty cabin. Our core goal is to inspire future generations by telling the amazing history of 41-20095 as only she can do.

Vintage Wings Inc. already has an incredible following on social media, but once Beach City Baby with her mobile classroom is airworthy, her air show tour will garner significant attention. Air shows attract millions of spectators every year, and offer a significant marketing and advertising opportunity for our generous sponsors.

Thank you for considering sponsorship in our aircraft and helping Beach City Baby complete her next important mission.


WarbirdsNews feels sure that our readers would love to see Beach City Baby back in the air, where she belongs, and helping to tell the story of the most important aircraft design ever to fly! If you wish to help this project, please click HERE to find out how, or visit their online store HERE to buy cool memorabilia.

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