Vintage Wings’ Douglas C-53 Skytrooper – Restoration Update

Working on Beach City Baby last June. A lot of progress has been made on this historic aircraft in the intervening months! (photo via Jason Capra)

Over the past two years, WarbirdsNews has been reporting HERE on the efforts of Jason Capra and his team at Vintage Wings, Inc. to resurrect an abandoned combat veteran Douglas C-53 Skytrooper back to flying condition in Beach City, Ohio. Now nicknamed Beach City Baby, C-53 41-20095 has come a long way since those early beginnings, and the quality of the restoration process looks impressive indeed. We thought our readers would enjoy seeing some of the work accomplished so far, and will let Jason Capra pick up the story from here…

The C-53 waiting out the cold weather this winter. (photo via Jason Capra)

Vintage Wings Inc. has come a long way in just under three years. The process of getting her airworthy has been accelerated in order to get the aircraft under cover as soon as possible (which is not possible at the present location). A deal was made with the Franklin-Venango Regional Airport in Western Pennsylvania for a climate-controlled hangar for her full restoration and safe storage into the future while partnering with the local EAA Chapter. In the meantime, the restoration team has been working full-tilt to get Beach City Baby back in the air again for the move to Pennsylvania.

Some of the major milestones already accomplished include removal of the aging corporate interior and full restoration of cockpit instrumentation, radios and control panels. All control surfaces have been removed, rebuilt and recovered by our very talented members at Franklin-Venango Regional Airport. The entire aircraft has been completely rewired which enabled Vintage Wing’s latest milestone – the restoration and starting of the right engine with the left engine closely following suit. Both engines have been completely inspected thoroughly with compression checks and bore-scoped while replacing almost every component associated with them. Vintage Carburetors, Preferred Airparts, Champion Aerospace, Dynamic Aviation and Sun Air Parts have been instrumental in the restoration of our C-53’s engines. The right engine has about 5 hours of running time now and performs flawlessly while the left will be started soon for the first time since being refurbished.

The C-53’s cockpit overhaul is already well under way, as is evident in this image. (photo via Jason Capra)
The freshly overhauled pilot’s seat is a thing of beauty! (photo via Jason Capra)

Her flaps and all of its components have been completely removed and are currently being rebuilt and refurbished. Vintage Wings has also purchased three new tires for the aircraft and has already rebuilt the tailwheel and replaced the tire. The main tires and brakes will be replaced and rebuilt this spring. The original nose was put back on the aircraft with the former fiberglass corporate radome being taken off and traded for more parts. The entire tail area has essentially been rebuilt and is still being wrapped up due to damage from neglect from before.

Rebuilding one of the C-53’s flaps. (photo via Jason Capra)
The C-53’s tail section following the overhaul and installation of key components (in green). The Skytrooper has since regained her horizontal stabilizers. (photo via Jason Capra)
Brand new tyres for the C-53’s main wheels. (photo via Jason Capra)

The interior is being stripped of all old paint and adhesive which our members have been painstakingly at for some time now and are nearing the end of this messy and labor-intensive process. Both navigator and radio operator stations are being completely rebuilt and both will be restored to honor our C-53’s wartime occupants which whom we’ve located and have been communicating with.

Stripping the old paint from the fuselage interior. (photo via Jason Capra)
A view inside the freshly restored forward fuselage. (photo via Jason Capra)
Part of the C-53’s authentic radio suite is installed. (photo via Jason Capra)

As winter draws to a close and spring approaches, the Vintage Wings Inc. team will be all hands-on deck to get the C-53 up and out of Beach City Ohio by mid to late summer and ensure that the upcoming winter sees her sitting in her new home in Pennsylvania indoors and not outside anymore. It’s time to bring Beach City Baby inside to finish her restoration and god willing, have her on the air show circuit by 2019 or 2020. We can’t do this without your help however. Please visit our website at www.vintagewingsinc.com and click the “Join Us” tab to become a member of our team and show your support for saving this 1942 C-53 Skytrooper. Every penny counts. Every level of membership receives a gift from us to say thank you for your support.


Many thanks to Jason Capra for his report, and for the valiant work that he and his team are doing to preserve an important historic aircraft. For those of you who would like to help with their efforts….

Let’s “Restore the Roar”  –  Support Jason Capra and Vintage Wings at www.vintagewingsinc.com

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