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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS Feed Make Way for the Flabob Express at AirVenture 2012
Flabob Express
See the DC-3 Flabob Express at AirVenture Oshkosh 2012.
Flabob Express

The Flabob Express, a DC-3 based at Flabob Airport in Riverside, California, is among the first confirmed aircraft scheduled to appear at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012, July 23-29 at Wittman Regional Airport. Described as Flabob's signature aircraft, the Flabob Express will serve as the centerpiece for "a very comprehensive event at AirVenture" by the Flabob-based Thomas W. Wathen Foundation's educational programs, according to Bill Sawin, the foundation's executive vice president and chief development officer.

That will include up to 15 students from the Wathen Foundation Charter Middle/High School Aviation Academy & Programs. The students will serve as docents for aircraft tours and make presentations about EAA youth programs and what the programs have done for them. Organizers also plan to bring two or three airplanes built and flown by the students.

Along with plane-side presentations about EAA and Flabob programs, the students will also get involved with KidVenture and interact with the EAA Air Academy campers during AirVenture week.

A regal history

The Flabob Express first appeared at AirVenture 2010 for the 75th anniversary of the DC-3/C-47, and also returned last year. Its markings and amenities are of a 1940s Douglas DC-3 airliner; however, the aircraft's original configuration was a military C-47.

Built in 1943 in Long Beach, California, the airplane was once an RAF transport with wartime service. According to the plane's website, this very airplane transported Winston Churchill and members of the Royal Family in 1943 during its initial tour of duty.

After ownership changed hands several times in India, Pakistan, and Canada, the airplane made it to the U.S. and was registered as N103NA. It was nicknamed Classic Express: Wings of Time by the DC-3 Aviation museum, which Flabob modified to Flabob Express: Wings of Time.

Riverside native Jerry Barto, prominent aircraft collector and philanthropist, acquired the airplane in 2001. It was significantly damaged in a heavy wind storm that, according to current chief pilot Jon Goldenbaum, blew the aircraft some 300 yards.

Bartow donated it to a newly formed nonprofit organization, the Flabob Aviation Association (the "other" FAA), a group of pilots, mechanics, and IAs located at Flabob Airport. They repaired and today maintain the Flabob Express, which is used throughout the year as a hands-on laboratory for Flabob's and EAA's youth education programs.

The flight to Oshkosh, Goldenbaum said, is comprised of three four-hour legs (12 flight hours) with stops in New Mexico and Wichita, Kansas.

In addition to the youth education initiatives, Flabob is also developing career programs for students and returning veterans such as one-year FAA-certified A&P license and 120-hour light aircraft mechanics programs.

For more information on Flabob and the Wathen Foundation, click here.

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