Scenic flights aboard retro Douglas DC-3 plane attract aircraft enthusiasts

As modern aviation gets more and more advanced, some are still clinging to the pioneering planes of yesteryear.

Aircraft enthusiasts are returning to the glory days of travel this summer, enjoying scenic tours of Auckland in a Douglas DC-3. Newshub climbed on board to check it out.

While she's not as svelte and slimline as her modern counterparts, the 28-seater Douglas DC-3 is a retro hit.

The plane was built by a mainly-female workforce at the Douglas factory in Oklahoma in 1945.

It was then used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force in World War II.

"It served Air New Zealand from the mid-1950s, and this particular one was the last one that they retired [from] their fleet in 1970," said Craig Emeny, owner of Air Chatham.

Over the holidays, the 79-year-old plane is getting a workout.

It has been flying passengers above Auckland's sights, and she's a sure fan favourite.

"Absolutely love it, [a] classic, classic bird," one enthusiast told Newshub.

Newshub asked Emeny how many times he'd flown the DC-3.

The cabin gives a 1940s retro vibe.
The cabin gives a 1940s retro vibe. Photo credit: Newshub.

"Multiple times actually. I just can't get enough of flying in this DC-3. Certainly double figures now," he replied.

"I can fly with a Boeing elsewhere in the world, but here it's a DC-3 and it's unique."

While there might not be any onboard WiFi or entertainment screens, there's plenty of legroom.

Back in the day, there was silver-service dining here - and she was of course known as the Concorde of her time.

The DC-3 was a passenger plane for the National Airways Corporation, but it was also an aerial topdresser around the country.

It later ended up in the hands of the Kingdom of Tonga in 2008, and it was in Tonga that Emeny found her in 2013.

"We bought the hangar and it was in it, and then we re-built it, so we spent a bit of money rebuilding it," Emeny told Newshub.

A couple hundred thousand dollars later, the aircraft has racked up 50,000 hours of flying time, and has seen the world.

"It would have travelled all around New Zealand, up to the Pacific islands, Japan. I think it might have even gone all the way across to the UK," he said.

These scenic flights are now delighting the next generation.

"She flies like she was new," said one happy passenger.

A part of aviation history in Aotearoa - the DC-3's summer fling shows there's still life left in the grand old dame of the skies.