Douglas DC-6B Reg.: OE-LDM (ex N996DM, V5-NCF)
The main reason for our visit to Salzburg airport was the International DC-3 Flyin event which was going to be organized on the 5th July. Some of my aviation friends decided to also join me in Salzburg and I decided to make it a long weekend trip. I hope to make a special DC-3 webpage update soon. Coupled with the DC-3 event we decided to make a trip to the Flying Bulls facility (hanger 7 & 8) across the airport. Due to the Scalaria aviation events at the Wolfgangsee, which is about 50 km from Salzburg, the Flying bulls where very busy flying several aircraft's (F4U, P-38 and B25) for this show. We where able tour the whole facility and photograph from the live side of the apron.
The DC-6B was also scheduled for a display at the Wolfgang see and with the help of Sylvie Pichler (Flight Operations) and Harald Reiter (Managing Director) we where able to get a seat onboard the amazing DC-6 flight. I also would like to give a special thanks Raimund Riedmand (chief Pilot Fixed wing) and his DC-6 crew: F/O: Philipp Haidbauer, F/E: Andrew Chambers, F/A: Bettina Baburek and F/A: Christina Schwarz. (Until next time)
The DC-6B was built in 1958. This airplane, with its terrific history, left the restoration plant in Salzburg in the year 2004. Its sheer size, unmistakable retrodesign, and luxurious interior make it beyond a doubt the crown jewel of the collection in Hangar-7 at the Salzburg Airport. Because of its history especially, the plane is known in aviator circles worldwide.
Already in the same year it was built, the DC was delivered to the national Yugoslavian airline JAT. Head of state Marshal Josip Broz Tito had it converted to a luxury plane for himself and his illustrious guests. By 1975, Tito was bored with the plane and sold it to Zambia's head of state Kenneth Kaunda. He, too, used it as a VIP airplane. When he also lost interest in the DC-6 – the jet age was just arriving in Africa – it was simply stored in a corner of Lusaka's airport. There Chris Schutte, operator of small airline business in Windhoek, Nambia, stumbled upon it. He originally intended to purchase it for replacement parts for his DC-4, but he discovered that this DC-6 had a sister plane that rolled off the assembly line directly after it. The two are the last DC-6's ever built. Schutte bought both at once and first restored the Tito plane, later its sister as well. Both airplanes were in service in Schutte's business until 1999: sight-seeing over West Africa, tour flights to the Victoria Falls, promotional flights with Miss Universe, and much the same were their duty. The growing tumult along the border to Angola in 1999 put a considerable damper on the tourism business, and Schutte was forced to sell the Tito DC-6.
Enter the Flying Bulls. In March 2000, Sigi Angerer, head pilot of the Flying Bulls, read in an airline magazine that a DC-6 was for sale in Africa. Angerer acted fast, and two days later he and the Flying Bulls business director, Harald Reiter, met with Chris Schutte at the airport in Windhoek to draw up a preliminary contract. On July 7, 2000, the plane took off in Windhoek. On board were Sigi Angerer, two experienced captains from South African Airways, a film team, the flight engineer from Schutte's business, an assortment of replacement parts, and a lot of oil for refueling. The flight to Salzburg took four stages, lasted nearly 28 hours, and went without a hitch. The restoration began in 2001 at a factory constructed in part for the DC-6. It left the factory in the summer of 2004, three years and tens of thousand of hours later.
The plane's registration in Namibia was cancelled and transferred to an American register under the identification number N996DM. It received a completely new and luxurious interior – true to the overall historical concept as far as possible –, four new engines, and modern flight electronics. In July 2013 the DC-6 eventually received Austrian citizenship and now operates under the Austrian registration OE-LDM making it the first DC-6 to ever obtain an Austrian code – even during the DC- 6's peak in the 50's and 60's, this has never been the case. During the extremely complex restoration work, the airplane was completely dismantled into individual components and then reassembled. The plane's condition was not as good as originally thought, requiring considerably more work than expected. But there's a happy ending – not only the virgin flight, but also the unanimous judgment of the experts prove that this airplane is better now than it ever could have been when new.