Preservation Work Continues on Antarctic DC3

Restoration work continues by a select group of volunteers from the Ferrymead Aeronautical Society on the LC47H aircraft preserved in Christchurch, New Zealand.

A hanger was completed over the plane in 2001, finally sealing out the rain and wind and ensuring that work and money invested in the project will now return real dividends and not be subject to vandals and harsh weather.

The LC47H was presented to the City of Christchurch to mark the role played by that type of plane in the Antarctic, and the hospitality shown to the Operation Deep Freeze personnel.

The plane had previously spent three years on the ice as a transport and three years based in Christchurch as a trainer prior to its retirement in


Similar to the famous DC-3 it differs in having the ski undercarriage for use on ice runways, a longer nose housing radar, advanced navigation equipment and Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) bottles under the fuselage.

The aircraft was towed on its own wheels from Christchurch International Airport to its current home at the Ferrymead in 1973.

The main job over the last couple of years has been to stabilise the condition of the aircraft and to attend to urgent repairs to areas damaged while on display outside.

To this end the cockpit floor, windows, and some interior linings have been replaced; the port engine has been cleaned and inhibited against corrosion; and the port side elevators and ailerons refitted.

Brent Wells of Auto & Marine Upholstery Ltd in Christchurch is recovering all the pilot and co-pilot seats.

The task for volunteers is now turning towards paint stripping all the multiple layers of old paint from the airframe right back to bare metal, treating and repairing any small areas of corrosion and preparing the aircraft for a complete new paint job.

No firm decisions have been made yet on how to display the plane when restoration is completed, but donations of interesting related exhibits or information are encouraged.

Stories relating to the era and first hand accounts of flying down to the ice on this aircraft would be particularly helpful. (Contact the author at: or via the Editor of Antarctic).

From information gathered so far there appears to be two other Antarctic DC3 aircraft preserved in the world, with the famous Que Sera Sera, which made the first aircraft landing at the South Pole, residing back in the USA, and another unidentified example on display in South America.

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