US, Brazil, Africa, Europe Airlines

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PROS: Professional arrangements; widely traveled route, food and drinks at no extra cost; and return varied.

CONS: Long flight; web seats; a little cool; and inexperienced pilots and/or crew.

Crew Retired . . . Plane Still Flies

  • A C-47 (tail no. 42100537) flown by the 80th Airborne Troop Carrier Squadron still flies with the RUTACA Air Lines out of Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela.

  • One crew member, Bill Elmendorf, traveled to Venezuela to see his plane once again.

  • Over 50 years later, he kicked the landing gear, kissed a prop, and banged on the door!

  • The Veep said, "lets go!" So Bill followed him to the plane. At about 4:30 pm, he told Bill to to get aboard and stand in back of him. He cranked up the engines, taxied to the active runway, got clearance and took off! Not long into the flight, Bill was allowed to sit down and fly it for a while. What memories!

  • More of the Story

  • The Veep asked him to sign the log and asked how many hours were on the plane when it was turned in after the war. Bill told him the plane was turned in at Hunter Field, Savanna, Georgia with about 800 hours. The veep pointed out it now has 14,056 hours! Multiply the hours by the IAS and you come out with about three million miles. Bill wanted to ask about how many engines, how many tires, how many take offs and landings, how many gallons of gasoline and oil. All the stuff running through his head . . . but he did not ask.

    in 2008, the plane crashed in the mountains during inclement whether, with about 14 men on board, no survivors. The story was an obituary of the plane and pilot. In the story of this airline crash, they mentioned Bill Elmendorf's visit to see the plane he flew in WWII! Daughter sent the story to him a few months after the crash occured. Being that he was in a nursing home at the time, it was like a feeling of "OH well ... my friends are dying, a lot of them gone, and now my plane..."

    Bill himself passed away July 23, 2009 at the age of 84 and a 1/2! His mind was willing to keep going, but his body had other plans. He had a stroke and checked out immediately. Now he can soar as much as he wants with his own wings.

    That's the story . . . as told to Frenchie on April 11, 2010.

  • Is this all to the story ??

  • Did anything interesting happened to the crew during the war??

  • combat and other missions

    A pilots story!

  • I was the best shot with the .45 automatic in the whole European Theater of Operations (ETO)!

  • New years of 1944/1945, we were still in England. This particular time we all were in our living quarters sipping on a little gin and grapefruit juice when I heard some Boofers and machine gun fire! Looked at my watch and it was twelve midnight! I immediately picked up my .45 and a clip, walked to the door, took a couple of steps into the street and fired one round skyward!

  • I hit a high tension wire.

  • Needless to say many lights went out between our base and Lands End (south west England). No punishment; they just flew the hell out of me till the end of the war. But in backfired in their face! When they published list of who had the most combat missions, there was my name at the head of the list. (Many years later at one of our reunions the then flight chief told me he had permission from the commander to do this. But a lot of the 'milk-runs' turned to be classified as a combat mission as our intelligence section told us it was okay to fly over 'that section' but turned out to be wrong!)

  • Stay tuned for more about how the C-47s and crews got to England and back!

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    This page is dated October 1998.