C-53 Skytrooper ‘Beach City Baby’ Flies!

The view from the cockpit during one of C-53 Beach City Baby's first post-restoration flights on Saturday May 14th. The aircraft, a derelict just a few years ago, is now in pristine airworthy condition and fully restored back to her wartime configuration. (image via Vintage Wings Inc.)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019

As many readers are well aware, we have been following the restoration of combat veteran Douglas C-53 Skytrooper 41-20095, better known as Beach City Baby, for some years now. Jason Capra and his band of volunteers at Vintage Wings Inc. have been carrying out this work at their facility in Franklin, Pennsylvania, and their remarkable grass-roots effort has returned a near-derelict airframe into a pristine representation of her former self while serving in the North Africa campaign during WWII. On Saturday, May 14th, 2022 Capra and his team achieved their goal, taking the Beach City Baby into the skies again for her first post-restoration flight. Jason Capra provided the following details about this momentous occasion…

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1st Flight! Captain Jason Capra (right), Captain Ian Hengst (left) and Flight Engineer Joe Matz (middle). (image via Vintage Wings Inc.)

We flew Beach City Baby. Twice!I can’t even begin to describe the feelings, emotions, and just overwhelming joy that all of us had yesterday flying, watching, and riding in our airplane. She flew magnificently. Period!

The first flight was for about 40 minutes, and produced a small list of squawks. Minor adjustments that were ironed out once we got back onto the ground. This was completely to be expected. But how few they were gave testament to the level of detail and perfection that our team lovingly put into this old girl.

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The crew for the first flight. (image via Vintage Wings Inc.)

The second flight was about an hour and involved orbiting and circling the town as well as other outlying communities to let them know their communities “Baby” is airborne and ready to go.
Both captain’s got a chance to fly one flight yesterday with myself and Ian Hengst getting to sit left seat and then swapping for other on their flight. Joe Matz was in the flight engineer’s seat keeping a watchful eye on the engine’s and, well, the pilots!
Yesterday couldn’t have been more perfect than it was. There are so many people who have got us to this point, and the list is long and everyone just as important. But these folks were always more than helpful when we need to ask an expert. Whether that problem was with maintenance, authentication, flying, parts, or general DC-3 knowledge, and promotional ideas, I’d seriously like to thank the following folks, who without their knowledge, skill and experience, none of what we did would have been possible:
Paul Bazeley
Ian Hengst
Jim Gentry
Ryan Anderson
Julio Castrillo
Karl Stoltzfus
Ken Stoltzfus
Charlie Walker
Patrick Elie
Doug Rozendaal
Brooks Pettit
Chris Polhemous
Matt Jolley
Moreno Aguiari
Thank you all for playing a part in adding to our knowledge bank to gain the knowledge to keep history alive and flying.
We will see you at our first show…
Stay Tuned!

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The team of Vintage Wings Inc. volunteers who made Beach City Baby’s first flight possible. (image via Vintage Wings Inc.)

Many thanks indeed to Jason Capra for his insight into yesterday’s events. We hope to be able to share more details in the coming days, but suffice to say, Saturday was indeed a momentous occasion. It offers ample proof that big dreams can come true with the right amount of drive and a great crew. Jason Capra and his team at Vintage Wings Inc. have set a massive bench mark for all of the dreamers out there… Bravo!

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Jason Capra standing in the cockpit, mimicking an image from several years back at the very start of this restoration – what a journey it has been! (image via Vintage Wings Inc.)


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