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Provincetown Municipal Airport | Douglas DC-3.

The indestructible DC-3, that twin-engine workhorse of civil aviation before and after World War II and of military aviation during the war (as the C-47), entered into service with the Provincetown-Boston Airline in 1968. The 32-passenger aircraft soon became as emblematic of the carrier as its seagull logo. By 1980, PBA and its affiliate, Naples Airlines in Florida, were operating a dozen DC-3s. First among equals was N136PB — “Old 36” — which was originally delivered to Eastern Air Lines in 1937 and purchased by PBA in 1974. After it had spent 84,875 hours in the air, in 1982, it became the longest flying commercial passenger plane operating in the Western world. (If uninterrupted, that would have amounted to almost 10 full years airborne!) “Each time this 30-passenger DC-3 flies, it breaks its own record,” was how The Associated Press put it succinctly. Luckily for posterity, J. R. Qualey III flew Old 36 from Provincetown to Boston in August 1978 and took photographs, including the one above of the cabin. They can be seen on his Planes_Trains_Ships Facebook page. Jack Cullen, a former PBA captain, said that Old 36 flew PBA’s last scheduled flight, from LaGuardia to Hyannis, in 1988. At the time, he said, it had about 92,000 hours on its airframe. Astonishingly, it is still flying, once again in silvery Eastern livery, and is owned by Aerometal International of Aurora, Ore.

¶ Last updated on 12 March 2017. ¶ Image courtesy of Planes_Trains_Ships (Facebook), by J. R. Qualey III; pending permission.

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