Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Dakota Talks

Last Saturday a new aviation event took place in the Portuguese Air Force Museum the "Museu do Ar" situated in the Portuguese Air Force Base No.1 located in Sintra. The event called "Dakota Talks" was advertised here on this Blog in a previous post was promoted by TAP Portugal airline along with the Portuguese Air Force and the Vintage Aero Club. Both TAP and the PoAF are well known to all of you and the Vintage Aero Club is an organization created recently with the purpose of organizing volunteers to work in the preservation of aeronautics historical items such as aircraft for museum preservation.


The first project of this group is the restore of a Douglas Dc-3, C-47 in this case now with the registration CS-TDA and this is not a real registration, the last active registration of this aircraft was in fact CS-DGA and was registered for the Portuguese Civil Aviation Authority as a transporter and radio aids and runway calibration aircraft.

The now called CS-TDA prior to the beginning of the restoration process Photo credits: Filipe Cardoso

The CS-TDA came years later after the aircraft had been bought by TAP and painted with a "vintage" paint recreating the first Dc-3 in service with TAP. More recent news are that this aircraft will be restored as TAP's Dc-3 CS-TDE. Why CS-TDE instead of the TDA? The TDE wasn't the first Dc-3 operated by TAP but was the first to fly the called Imperial Route connecting Lisboa to Lourenço Marques, actual Maputo in Mozambique at that time a Portuguese colony.

 The real CS-TDA - unknown author

 The CS-DGA exposed and painted as CS-TDA and being restored to become CS-TDE: Photo credits - Don Gilham

 The front section of CS-DGA exposed and painted as CS-TDA and being restored to become CS-TDE: Photo credits - Luis Tavares

The Vintage Aero Club with the background and essential support of TAP Maintenance and Engineering and the Portuguese Air Force is working to assure a perfect restoration to recreate the TDE of the maiden flight of the Imperial Route in 1946.

Passengers embarking on CS-TDE, unknown author

What are the Dakota Talks? The Talks project is a form of the VA Club present the updates of the restoration to those interested in following the group's work and most of all a space of conversation and sharing of stories all related with the Dc-3. The first session was subordinated to the theme of the restoration of the present CS-TDA and presentation of the project. A board of speakers was invited to the event as TAP CEO Dr Fernando Pinto and from the Portuguese Air Force the Lieutenant General Mimoso de Carvalho and Colonel Coutinho Bernardo director of the Museum. The board was completed with Mário Rodrigues head of the Interiors and Composites workshop of TAP M&E and José Lacerda head of Painting workshop of TAP M&E. TAP CEO Fernando Pinto marked this restoration as the beginning of a partnership between TAP and the Portuguese Air Force in the responsibility in preserving the Aviation History so that with the memories of yesterday we can live the future. TAP CEO also remembered the importance of the Douglas Dc-3 in aviation and the innovations applied  in this model that came to be as standards to aviation until today something comparable now to the actual days of commercial aviation with the application of composite materials in a large scale. Lieutenant General Mimoso de Carvalho thanked for the event that brought and pretends to bring more and more visitors to the museum and also thanked the volunteers for their work in preserving such a distinctive aircraft to a condition that will be possible not just to admire its smooth exterior lines but also its interiors as they where in 1946. General Mimoso de Carvalho remarked the positives of the partnership between the two entities and stated that it is a must to the Museum to have a hangar dedicated to the Portuguese Airline. Plans for the expansion of the Museum are in the General's mind and in the pretensions of the PoAF but the budget restrictions create the need of a more careful planning and management of the financial resources. The PoAF has many aircraft that are stored waiting for restoration a space at the museum but since its transfer to Sintra, a much bigger space than the old installations in Alverca, the museum haven't stop growing and growing and now space or the lack of it is a limitation again. An example of this is the C-54, a military version of the Douglas Dc-4 that is stored in Alverca exposed to the elements. This aircraft is of major interest for both PoAF and TAP as it flew under both brands. Its restoration is urgent but first a covered space is needed to keep it and restore it. Mário Rodrigues and José Lacerda from TAP M&E were invited to talk more about their participation in this project and all the work done by their workshops for the support of the volunteers work. As a book was passing through the assistance Mário Rodrigues talked about the restoration of the seats and the transformation of a configuration of 2 seats on each side to TAP's configuration of 1 seat in one side and 2 in the other. Mário also explained the work done to the manufacture of totally new floor panels for the rear of the aircraft as the old ones were in a very poor condition to accept visitors inside in safety. Mário at first said that the restoration was a mad idea but now even he is a strong supporter and an enthusiast of the project. José Lacerda presented all volunteers with a nice surprise that was one of the Emergency Exit windows almost fully restored and in mint condition. Nice one José! He is being constantly challenged by Carlos Tomaz to bring the exterior the real 1946 paint that was... No paint at all apart from one blue stripe on each side of the fuselage with TAP brand under cockpit windows and the Portuguese Flag covering the entire rudder. José suggested the paint and polish of the aircraft with a paint recreating that metallic effect instead of leaving the aircraft in bare metal because of aging that probably would have left its marks. Fact is that José left that Emergency Exit window in bare metal on the outside and the results are as good as new leaving all presents surrendered to that shiny effect wondering how would it be if it was all in that condition.

From left to right: Carlos Tomaz TAP A320 Captain and Vintage Aero CLub, Mário Rodrigues TAP M&E Interiors and Composites, Dr. Fernando Pinto TAP CEO, Lt. General Mimoso de Carvalho PoAF, Col. Coutinho Bernardo PoAF Museum Director and José Lacerda Painting workshop TAP M&E Photo: Celia M. Rocha

Carlos Tomaz an A320 Captain for TAP is the responsible for the creation of the Vintage Aero Club and he is the one acts as a connection between all entities also was the presenter of the first Dakota Talks. Carlos started this first session presenting the guests and explaining a bit more about the Talks.

Carlos Tomaz presenting the Dakota and explaining some issues regarding the rear part of the aircraft as the baggage compartment and the completely new toilet built from a closet. Photo: Celia M. Rocha

This was the first of the Dakota Talks and second edition is already under preparation ad planned to take place in the 7th. December.

A small glimpse of some of the work done during the restoration process so far: Photo Celia M. Rocha

Questions from the audience: Photo Celia M. Rocha

More questions from the audience: Photo Celia M. Rocha

The volunteers of the Vintage Aero Club present at the event.

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