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Travelers at the municipal airport in Washington, D.C., study an Eastern Airlines Douglas DC-3 outside the terminal in July 1941.  

The airport was new when this photo was taken, having opened on June 16 of that year. It was the replacement for the outmoded Washington-Hoover Airport, created in 1930 by the merger of two existing facilities — Hoover Field and Washington Airport.  

The new airport’s construction was not without controversy, because President Franklin Roosevelt reallocated money for it from other programs while Congress was in recess, and the legislative body tried to challenge the president’s actions but could not stop him. Known for a long time as Washington National Airport, the facility was renamed in 1998 to honor President Ronald Reagan.  

The Douglas DC-3 is one of the world’s most important airliners. Following in the path of the Douglas Aircraft Company’s DC-1 and DC-2, it first flew on Dec. 17, 1935, as the DST, for Douglas Sleeper Transport. After building only seven DSTs, Douglas ditched the sleeping berths and replaced them with passenger seats. On June 26, 1936, American Airlines became the first company to start using the new airplane. The last DC-3 rolled off the assembly line in 1943, although military versions (the C-47 and C-53) continued being built for the war effort.   

Like many DC-3s, this particular airplane had a long and checkered existence. Built in 1940, it started its career with Eastern and went through a long series of owners afterwards. On June 7, 1991, it was flying in the Dominican Republic for Victoria Air S.A. when it experienced an engine failure in flight. The crew managed to make a forced landing in a sugarcane field, but the airplane was too badly damaged to repair.   

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