C-53 Skytrooper ‘Beach City Baby’ – February 2022 Restoration Update

Beach City Baby during a recent engine run. The aircraft is now very close to flying again. (image via Jason Capra)


Over the past seven years, we have been following the remarkable efforts by Jason Capra and his team at Vintage Wings Inc. as they have resurrected a combat veteran Douglas C-53 Skytrooper from its then near derelict condition into the pristinely restored, authentic representative of the breed. The team is now in the final stages of readying the aircraft for its first post-restoration flight, with the only major hurdle remaining involving the propellers. Jason Capra has just reported on these latest developments, and we thought our readers would be interested to see his descriptions for how the project is progressing…

Removing the starboard propeller to send off to the maintenance shop. (image via Jason Capra)
Yesterday, the Vintage Wings team removed both propellers from the aircraft in preparation for their five year Airworthiness Directive Inspection. Regardless of time put on them or how much/little they’ve flown, every five years these propellers must be pulled and sent to a propeller shop for a mandatory inspection.

 

Ours will be heading to H&S Propeller in White Lake, Michigan for their inspection. H&S actually rebuilt both propellers back in 2017 when we were trying to get the airplane out of Ohio. We were beyond happy with their work and didn’t hesitate to send them back to them again for this AD [Airworthiness Directive].
As one can imagine, pulling the propellers off of the C-53 is a big job and involves a good team. We were lucky to have our dedicated and talented crew on hand yesterday to make this possible. We decided to document via video a short film of how to remove the propellers from the C-53 (see below).
I also want to give a well deserved shout out to Jim Aaron. With concern of using the open air trailer that the prop shop uses to transport the propellers, driving in February across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan with all the salt on the roads was an absolute show stopper. Wanting to keep the propellers in one piece, Jim fabricated mounts for both propellers on a sled that can easily be pulled into and out of his show car trailer with a ramp. This would allow protection and cover to the prop shop. He literally fabricated this thing from design to finish in about two weeks. Again, an absolutely incredible effort by Jim. We can’t thank you enough!
The propellers in their custom-made cradle, ready for shipping off to the inspection shop. (image via Jason Capra)
As the props head north, the crew will be wrapping up the final items on the C-53, finishing paperwork and completely starting from step one on all of the airplanes phase inspections to give her a clear bill of health by spring for flight.
Bereft of its propeller, Beach City Baby’s starboard engine awaits its return following the unit’s inspection at H&S Propeller in Michigan. (image via Jason Capra)

Ground School

On January 30th, we wrapped up our ground school for Vintage Wings Inc. We are beyond proud of the group of pilots, copilots, flight engineers and loadmasters we had attending the event this weekend. They dedicated their time to learn how to safely operate and care for the C-53. Saturday’s classes consisted of limitations, systems, emergency procedures, profiles and operations.
. (image via Jason Capra)
Sunday’s class involved a thorough walk around, with explanations and trouble areas. We then broke down into two large groups and began specific training for each job. The pilots and flight engineers broke into groups of three, and were walked through an entire preflight checklist, both inside and outside, with explanations as to why they do what they are doing, as well as guidance from our instructors.
The loadmasters also received their training regarding their specific jobs and how to be an important set of extra eyes for the front end crew while the aircraft is in operation.
. (image via Jason Capra)
. (image via Jason Capra)
After breaking for another amazing lunch of homemade chili by Janet McClintock Aaron, the group then took their mandatory written exam consisting of 50 questions covering systems, limitations, speeds, power settings and operations.
It is a great start and great bonding experience for this year’s flight crews. The professionalism of this group and the seriousness at which they gave the matter at hand will be greatly reflected in how the airplane is operated. I’m very proud of everyone who attended and look forwards to having so many of you get to meet these great folks at our events this year.

Cockpit Instrumentation Installed

In the first week of January, all of the new avionics were installed in the C-53 with a successful test. I can’t thank Bradley Kratz and

Kenny enough for donating their time and effort to help us reach the finish line. Thank you both for all that you’ve done. Just a few more minor items to go in the cockpit including installation of a new fuel pressure switch and light, bungee chord on the emergency exit, placards for speeds and power settings, “N” number placard, labels for fuel and oil pressure lights, compass light and swing, and Pitot Static Check. Almost there!


Many thanks to Jason Capra and Vintage Wings Inc. for the use of the images above. It is clear to see the dedication and remarkable professionalism of their entire team – a group very much worthy of support. Anyone wishing to help this important project should click HERE to find out how to contribute!

 



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