Thousands of people tour Placid Lassie for free every year (though a small donation is kindly requested.) Our volunteer docents have compiled some of the most common questions we get below.
Why is it called the Tunison Foundation?
SSgt. Ed Tunison was the radio operator of Placid Lassie during the war. When Lassie was flown to Normandy in 2014, she was called "Union Jack Dak" as the owner was British. A Dutch historian came up to us and said: "I know your airplane. She's Placid Lassie, and one of her crew members is still alive." He passed on an email address; we emailed Ed and he responded within hours. Ed flew out from his home near Palm Springs, CA to see and fly Lassie over Normandy again, 70 years later. When, in 2017, the Foundation was formed to operate Lassie, Ed had passed away just six months earlier, and in tribute to our C-47's last surviving wartime crewmember, we named it the Tunison Foundation.
Who were Eager Eileen and Idling Ada?
Eager Eileen was Ed Tunison's wife, as Ed recounted to us in Normandy in 2014, to the slight horror of his son, who accompanied him. In tribute to her, Ed named the starboard engine on Lassie after her.
Idling Ada, the port engine, was named after the wife of Lassie's wartime crew chief, TSgt. Eddie A. Apodaca.
When was the last time the crew saw Lassie?
July 1945. After V-E Day, they flew back across the Atlantic via the southern route, through Africa and the Caribbean. They landed at Hunter Field in Savannah, GA, where the crew was given 30 days' leave, pending their deployment to the Pacific. Thankfully, the war ended before they could ship out.
Various Aircraft Performance Questions
This C-47 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92s. They're 14-cylinder radial aircraft engines making about 1,200 horsepower each. Between them, they burn about 100 gallons of gasoline per hour in cruise flight, and about 3 gallons of engine oil. We carry 804 gallons of fuel onboard in main and auxiliary tanks, with over 1,200 gallons onboard when we install ferry tanks for Atlantic crossings. Each engine has an oil capacity of 29 gallons. It's said there are slightly more than 500,000 rivets on a C-47, but we've never counted.
Which companies operated Placid Lassie after the war?
– NATS Air Transport Service, Oakland, CA (1947-1949)
– West Coast Airlines, Seattle, WA (1949-1968)
– Aero-Dyne Corp., Renton, WA (1968-1984)
– Saber Aviation, Charlotte, SC (1984-1992)
– Express Air Cargo, Simpsonville, NC (1992-2000)
– Derelict, Covington, GA (2000-2010)
– James Lyle, Fort Pierce, FL (2010-2017)
– Tunison Foundation, Inc., Oxford, CT (2017-present)
What are her markings?
Placid Lassie is painted as she was on June 6th, 1944, during the D-Day Invasion, plus what the FAA requires for operational aircraft (registration numbers).
How many hours has she flown?
The original logbooks have been lost, as is the case with many vintage aircraft, but we estimate about 50,000 hours.
Are there any bullet holes in Placid Lassie?
No. Firstly, any battle damage would have been repaired after a mission. Secondly, in the post-war market, with thousands of DC-3/C-47s available, would you have picked the one with bullet holes, or the one without any battle damage?
How many DC-3s are left flying?
Including conversions to turbine engines (which are used in Antarctica and for global survey missions by governments), there are about 185 DC-3s of all variants remaining. However, we estimate around 125 flying with radial engines as originally fitted, with only a few dozen worldwide being exhibited to the public like Placid Lassie.
How is the Tunison Foundation supported?
The Tunison Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is primarily supported by tax-deductible charitable gifts, with secondary income from airshow and event appearance fees and merchandise sales.
Can I ride in Placid Lassie?
The Tunison Foundation does not, at this time, operate a paid-ride program. Occasionally, major donors, volunteers, and VIPs, such as World War II veterans, are invited to join a flight, often when repositioning to an event.
Can I tour Placid Lassie?
Yes! At our public events, visitors are welcome inside the cabin and cockpit at no charge, though we do appreciate donations. If you'd like a personalized, custom tour of Placid Lassie for your family or organization, please contact Sherry Fuller for more information.
I'm a pilot. Can I log time flying Placid Lassie with an instructor?
Unfortunately, not normally. While we previously offered hourly instruction for about $2,000 per hour, we do not currently possess the resources to do so, given a shortage of suitable MEI instructors. Our volunteer cadre of pilots is largely drawn from warbird industry and internal sources; if you're interested in someday flying the DC-3/C-47, please reach out to Garrett Fleishman, Tunison chief pilot, to discuss whether this path is appropriate for you.
Is Placid Lassie safe to fly?
The maintenance programs for World War II aircraft are even stricter than those for other aircraft. Placid Lassie has a detailed annual maintenance program, with additional inspections every 50 hours of flying time. Our in-house maintenance team is staffed with DC-3/C-47 experts, and our pilots are recognized as some of the world's most experienced with this unique aircraft. Additionally, because of the DC-3's weight, it is subject to maintenance protocol that more closely resembles that used for business jets than for light aircraft.