Journeys of Discovery: Sentimental journey with American Airlines’ circa-1937 “Flagship Detroit”

Jul 25, 2021

When George Dennis retired from his career as an American Airlines pilot, he wanted to do something more than just retire. His next mission came along when he noticed an old DC-3 airplane sitting in a field.

Dennis couldn’t resist temptation and put a down payment on his credit card to purchase the aircraft--and thus was born the non-profit Flagship Detroit. A 17-year odyssey ensued that entailed a meticulous aircraft restoration with the assistance of literally thousands of volunteers.

Employees at American Airlines also volunteered their time to assist with a myriad of details from air frame restoration to reupholstering the interior finishes, Originally built in Santa Monica, California back in 1937, the aircraft served as American Airlines’ Flagship-City of Detroit" until the craft was sold in 1948. Today, the City of Detroit Flagship, the world's oldest airworthy DC-3, remains in service, participating in air shows around the country.   

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer at the Shelbyville Municipal Airport in Tennessee for a visit with George Dennis and his airborne compatriots, Dave Buffington, Lisa Butler and her husband Blake Butler.

Underwriting support for Journeys of Discovery provided by Nashville's Big Back Yard economic initiative focused on rural communities in the southwest quarter of Tennessee and the Shoals Region of Northern Alabama.

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