Early 2016 I noticed a special announcement on the 2nd addition of the Airliner Classics at the Speyer airport (Germany), with the emphasis on aviation photographers and journalist. It really got my interest due to the fact of the classic "old-timer" line-up for this event and in addition the massive Speyer Technik museum just across the road. I have never visited this part of Germany before and it seemed a good idea to catch both events. For me one of the highlights would be to see the Breitling DC-3 (HB-IRJ) and the Swiss Super Constellation Flyers Association L-1049 (HB-RSC) standing side-by-side on the ramp (normally a very rare occasion). It was also a good time to meet up with some friends, Captain Francisco Agullo (DC-3) and Ernst Frei (Captain/Director of Operations L-1049 Connie).
Through the wonderful world of FB I was able to get in touch with Stella Heidorn a die-hard DC-3 fan and we agreed to meet up at Speyer. Because of the nature of this event I asked her if she would participate in a photo-shoot with the Breitling DC-3. I am always looking for additional pictures for my upcoming DC-3 photo-book. During the whole weekend the weather turned out to be super hot and sticky with temperatures soaring up to 35 degrees Celsius. We did manage to get some fantastic pictures, despite the hot weather and burning hot aircraft. Stella is also a journalist and she wrote a short article regarding the Speyer Airliner Classics which I was able to reproduce below.
BIO DC-3 HB-IRJ
HB-IRJ was built as a DC-3-277B (c/n 2204) this means that the passenger door is on the right side of the fuselage. She was built in March 1940 and is in excellent shape. It has accumulated over 74′000 flight hours, all of them as a passenger aircraft.
Delivered as ship number ′58′ on March 12, 1940 to American Airlines which added NC25658 to its fleet as "Flagship Cleveland". Between April 4 1942 and April 1 1944 she was flown by members of the US Army.
On February 24, 1949 she was bought by Trans Texas Airways, a company which was renamed Texas International in 1968. In 1969 Tradewinds overhauled it to a DC-3A configuration, and on December 16, 1971 she began her second big airline career with Provincetown-Boston-Airlines (PBA) for which she worked as a commuter aircraft with the registration N34PB. She was at the top of her career when N34PB flew in Florida in Eastern Express colours in 1987.
After the end of PBA, she was leased by Bar Harbour Airlines in 1988; this career however was terminated shortly thereafter. It was not until July 1992 when she was once again taken into service, this time by a carrier named Champlain Air, which took over this 30-seater and re-registered her as N922CA. She then experienced a total overhaul in 1995/6. Thereafter she flew for only 350 hours as "Priscilla". In 2008 she was bought by Francisco Agullo and brought to Opa Locka Florida, where she received a major overhaul and new paint job by Carlos Gomez. In the spring of 2009 it was flown from Florida to Switzerland and registered HB-IRJ. It is operated by the Super Constellation Flyers Association and used by Breitling for advertising purposes.
The area around Speyer truly has a lot to offer: besides the world famous Palatine wine, beautiful scenery and the Technik Museum Speyer & Sinsheim, or a short trip to the nearby Hockenheim Ring.
Also like me and many other aviation enthusiasts from around the world have done and go to the airfield Speyer-Ludwigshafen for the Airliner Classic aviation event (27-28 August). This ′Flugplatzfest′ provided many guest a beautiful flying event…from a bygone era! We were blessed with beautiful sunny skies and high temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius. In addition to the wonderful show I joined up with a Dutch aviation photographer for a photo-shoot with the Swiss Breitling Douglas DC-3. The central theme was ′DC-3 Pin-up′ with the Grand Old Lady.
In addition to the many old-timers airplanes on display and flying, the absolute star of the event, was the Lockheed L1049 Super Constellation (Super Constellation Flyers Association), are also the Douglas DC-3 (Breitling), the beautiful twin engine LTU De Havilland DH 104, Bücker 131 (airframe Mannheim) and its antonym, the Stampe SV4B, as well as many his other historic aircraft on site.
In addition to vintage aviation airplanes line-up, there was more on offer, such a children′s program, show acts, rides, big band music and great local food & beer. So in addition to pilots, spotters, aviation pioneers, families and children where very welcome to visit the Flugplatz Speyer.
Stella Heidorn was born in Münster, North-Rhine-Westphalia on the 18th of January 1997. That is also where she spent childhood and youth. She mainly grew up at her grandparents place. In this time she travelled a lot. After finishing elementary school, she went to high school which she left after the eleventh class with Mittlere Reife (High School Diploma) and Latinum (Advanced Latin proficiency). After a little while she started an apprenticeship as a Management Assistant for Digital & Print Media.
Besides her work at a content department nowadays, she operates a Blog, she is a writer, an author, an airplane lover and recently also a Pin Up model. Moreover, she travelled around many places worldwide, always searching for old airplanes and their stories. She often visits aviation fairs. Stella Heidorn is not married, has no children and lives in Germany at the moment. She is in a relationship with a Canadian.
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Stella Heidorn wurde am 18. Januar 1997 in Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen geboren. Ebenda verbrachte sie Kindheit und Jugend und wuchs größtenteils bei ihren Großeltern auf. In dieser Zeit reiste sie viel. Nach der Grundschule besuchte sie ein städtisches Gymnasium, welches sie nach der elften Klasse mit der mittleren Reife und Latinum verließ. Wenig später begann sie eine Ausbildung zur Medienkauffrau Digital & Print.
Neben ihrer hauptberuflichen Tätigkeit in einer Redaktion, ist sie zudem Blogbetreiberin, Buchautorin, Verfasserin, Flugzeugliebhaberin und neuerdings auch Pin-Up-Model. Sie bereiste außerdem viele Orte weltweit, immer auf der Suche nach alten Flugzeugen und ihren Geschichten. Häufig ist sie auf europäischen Luftfahrtmessen anzutreffen. Stella Heidorn ist nicht verheiratet, hat keine Kinder und lebt zurzeit in Deutschland. Sie befindet sich in einer Lebenspartnerschaft mit einem Kanadier.