The Amazing Gooney Bird: The Saga of the Legendary DC-3/C-47, by Carroll V. Glines, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Atglen, Pa., 1996, $45.
This book calls the Douglas DC-3 “amazing.” It is. Also amazing is the author, for Carroll V. Glines has not only spent many hours in the pilot seat of the C-47, the military version of the DC-3, as pilot-in-command but he is also a leading historian and writer about the remarkable airplane.
Glines’ first book about the DC-3, Grand Old Lady, was published with co-author Wendell F. Mosely in 1959. Glines then wrote The DC-3: The Story of a Fabulous Airplane and, again with Mosely, The Legendary DC-3.
Now, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the airplane that did so much to get the airlines on their feet in the late 1930s and was called the United States’ most important weapon in World War II, Glines has produced yet another book on his favorite airplane. Having read his previous DC-3 books thoroughly, I wondered if there could be anything I had not already seen or read about the grand old airplane. Somehow, the author has dug up more anecdotes, facts and pictures, and packaged it all in a slick book that nicely balances copy and photographs–which are, appropriately for this presentation, black and white.
The DC-3 has flown under many names and designations, including C-47, Gooney Bird, R4D, Dakota, Li-2, L2D3 Tabby, BT-67, Skytrain, TC-47, Super DC-3 and C-117. The author has provided a comprehensive list of all the civil and military versions of the aircraft in Appendix A. Representative depictions of Gooney Bird military nose art are collected in Appendix B, and Appendix C–the C-47 training manual–will bring back a wealth of memories to many former DC-3/C-47 pilots.
The book traces Donald W. Douglas’ creation and development of the airplane, and its airline and military careers through World War II, Korea, Vietnam and innumerable civilian uses–then looks into its future. Yes, a future for this popular airplane that has been flying in its original configuration for three-score years already.
The author’s goal is to demonstrate to the reader what a remarkable flying machine Douglas built six decades ago. By doing so, Glines hopes that he will have partially repaid the kindly Gooney Bird for the years of progress it has brought to the flying art “and the many hours of pleasure I had when it was in my hands.”
Glines writes: “…let no one think that this book is a eulogy for the deceased. The Amazing Gooney Bird is still in the prime of life and will outlive all who read this book.” Now, that’s amazing.
Arthur H. Sanfelici