History of the Piedmont Airlines DC-3

  The Piedmont Airlines DC-3 in 2004 when it was moved from the Durham Museum of Life and Science     

There were 10,655 DC-3s made by the Douglas Aircraft Company and 2500 made under licenses. Certain companies were granted licenses that allowed them to manufacture these airplanes. DC-3s were manufactured from 1935 until 1947. The first DC-1 was manufactured on July 1, 1933.

The Potomac Pacemaker was manufactured as a C-53 by Douglas Aircraft Company on March 20, 1942. It had the Air Corps number 41-21030. The C-53 is a version of the DC-3 with a maximum gross weight of 29,300 pounds. The Douglas serial number is 4900. During World War 11 this aircraft remained in the United States and on January 10, 1945, it was withdrawn from service and moved to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

On August 1, 1949 it was purchased by Western Airlines and registered as NC 18600. On January 12, 1956 it was purchased by Piedmont Airlines and reregistered as N56V and named Potomac Pacemaker. It operated at Piedmont Airlines until February 20, 1965.


It had logged 48,000 hours of service and was traded to Charlotte Aircraft Company as part of the purchase of TWA’s Martin 404 fleet. In 1978 the Museum of Life and Science, Durham, N.C. obtained the aircraft, which was moved to Durham by Roy Teer. It was assembled with the help of Piedmont Airline employees and put on display. The North Carolina Transportation Museum purchased the plane, disassembled it, and on April 6, 2004, moved it by trucks to the museum in Spencer. It will eventually be displayed in the Back Shop exhibit hall. Students in GTCC’s aviation program and former Piedmont Airlines employees are assisting in the restoration.

Written by Ronnie Macklin, May 21, 2005

  The DC-3 arrives at the Museum on April 6, 2004