Crew Retired . . . Plane Still Flies
A C-47 (tail no. 42100537) flown by the 80th Airborne Troop Carrier Squadron still flies with the RUTACA Air Lines out of Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela.
One crew member, Bill Elmendorf, traveled to Venezuela to see his plane once again.
Over 50 years later, he kicked the landing gear, kissed a prop, and banged on the door!
The Veep said, "lets go!" So Bill followed him to the plane. At about 4:30 pm, he told Bill to to get aboard and stand in back of him. He cranked up the engines, taxied to the active runway, got clearance and took off! Not long into the flight, Bill was allowed to sit down and fly it for a while. What memories!
More of the Story
The Veep asked him to sign the log and asked how many hours were on the plane when it was turned in after the war. Bill told him the plane was turned in at Hunter Field, Savanna, Georgia with about 800 hours. The veep pointed out it now has 14,056 hours! Multiply the hours by the IAS and you come out with about three million miles. Bill wanted to ask about how many engines, how many tires, how many take offs and landings, how many gallons of gasoline and oil. All the stuff running through his head . . . but he did not ask.in 2008, the plane crashed in the mountains during inclement whether, with about 14 men on board, no survivors. The story was an obituary of the plane and pilot. In the story of this airline crash, they mentioned Bill Elmendorf's visit to see the plane he flew in WWII! Daughter sent the story to him a few months after the crash occured. Being that he was in a nursing home at the time, it was like a feeling of "OH well ... my friends are dying, a lot of them gone, and now my plane..." Bill himself passed away July 23, 2009 at the age of 84 and a 1/2! His mind was willing to keep going, but his body had other plans. He had a stroke and checked out immediately. Now he can soar as much as he wants with his own wings. That's the story . . . as told to Frenchie on April 11, 2010.
combat and other missions
This page is dated October 1998.