Radio 2

D-Day relic takes to the Flemish skies

It’s a red-letter weekend for enthusiasts of historical aviation at Ostend as a Royal Dakota that took part in the D-Day landings in 1944 visited the port city.

Visitors to Ostend can go for a spin in the Royal Dakota DC-3 Princess Amalia, the sole remaining Dutch DC-3 that still takes to the skies.

The aircraft is over three-quarters of a century old and can look back on an impressive historical track record. During the D-Day landings that heralded the liberation of continental western Europe from Nazi occupation the plane dropped paratroopers.  After the war it became the Dutch government’s first official airplane.

Flights take between 30 and 60 minutes.  The plane stays at low altitude affording a magnificent view of the local area.

Arjan van Adriechem is the Dutch pilot.  He normally flies Boeing 737s for KLM and sees commanding the Princess Amalia as a real treat.

“There is no automatic pilot, no jet engines.  Our mission is to keep the DC-3 in the skies!”

Many of the passengers have a link with the history of the aircraft.  They are the sons and daughters of former flying crews. A couple of weeks ago passengers included an 85-year-old former stewardess.

Peter Vanbrabant was one of Saturday’s passengers.  He told VRT that he was afraid of flying but wanted to take part and experience the history of D-Day.

Radio 2

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