PH-DDZ DDA - the Netherlands 1997

PH-DDZ DDA - the Netherlands 1997

History and the founding of the Dutch Dakota Association.

Anne Cor Groeneveld and Gerrit van Gelder, at the time both pilots at Dutch charterline Transavia, shared the idea to create a support platform to bring an airworthy DC-3 Dakota to the Netherlands. In March 1982 their vision materialised when the Dutch Dakota Association was founded.

After a worldwide search for a suitable DC-3 – there were more than 30 aircraft inspected – a Dakota was purchased in Finland. In April 1983 the aircraft made her first test flight under her future registration PH-DDA.

Only a year later, in April 1984 the PH-DDA landed at Schiphol. In the months before, pilots and cabin crew received training according to the international rules and regulations. The technical service with knowledge and skills to maintain the DC-3 was set up. That summer the DDA received her Dutch certificate of airworthiness from the Secretary of Transport Mrs. Neelie Smit-Kroes.

In 1985, 50 years after the first DC-3 took off for the skies, Delta Delta Alpha won the first prize at the 'Concour D’Elegance' during the airshow in Fairford UK. During the same year DDA released the first DDA magazine 'Dakota'. This magazine is now called 'Logboek Magazine'.

From the early start the DDA had the desire to expand by adding a second aeroplane to the fleet. In 1987 after a search of two years a suitable airframe was found in Malta. In May of the same year the PH-DDZ landed at Schiphol airport. DDA technicians started a complete overhaul after her arrival. This overhaul would eventually take 12 years.

On October 13, 1989 the association opened her first hangar at Schiphol 'Hangar 3'. The same day the DDA presented the PH-PBB – a 1944 built Stinson L5 Sentinel, which until 1956 was owned by HRH Prince Bernhard.

After many successful years of flying the DC-3 Dakota, 2 of the DC-3′s larger sister’s were purchased, the DC-4 Skymaster; ZS-NUR later to become PH-DDS and her sister ship PH-DDY. ZS-NUR had flown since 1946 with South African Airlines and the South African Airforce. The DDY was purchased for spare parts to service the PH-DDS.

After a ten-day ferry flight from South Africa the first of the two DC-4′s arrived at Schiphol in 1996. Equipped with 50 first class seats this aeroplane was again put to good use for the enjoyment of our members and sponsors.

September 25 1996 will be remembered with great sorrow. That day we lost our DC-3 PH-DDA with all passengers and crew in an accident near the Frisian island of Texel. This event marked a turning point in the association and well beyond.

A year after her arrival in the Netherlands ZS-NUR was reregistered as PH-DDS. On June 4, the second DC-4 PH-DDY arrived at Schiphol, where after she was put into storage.

A long time wish of HRH Prince Bernhard became reality in 1998, the Foundation added the former government aircraft PH-PBA, Prince Bernhard Alpha to the operational fleet.

May 7 1999 was a historic day; after a 12-year renovation project PH-DDZ made its first test flight. A representative of Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) praised this Grand Old Lady as the last built DC-3. This was a big compliment to our engineers.

Due to limitations in regulations for operating an aeroplane like the DC-4, the operation became unviable. For that reason in 2000, the DDA board decided to seize the DC-4 operation. In Springbok Classic Air, South Africa, the association found a partner who wanted to operate this aeroplane on a long term lease contract.

2001 the DDA reorganised further and moved all her activities to Hangar 2 at Schiphol East.

The DDA had long aspired to operate as a full-fledged airline, meeting the highest safety and training requirements set by the European aviation regulations. In 2003 this became a reality in close cooperation with partner JetNetherlands by signing the DC-3 operation onto their JAR-OPS AOC license. In acknowledgement of this achievement the DDA was rebranded to ‘DDA Classic Airlines’. A few years later this license was transferred to a supporting company called AllPlanes. In 2014 DDA was awarded the AOC (EASA-OPS) certificate by the Dutch Aviation Authority and was no longer depending on the support of others.

As from 2016 flights will be carried out under the Historic Aviation Regulation. The scheme is specifically designed for flight operations with historical aircraft. Under this Regulation operational and technical conditions will remain the same.

DDA moves to Lelystad by the end of 2009. The main goal is to merge with Aviodrome. Maintenance of the aircraft is performed in the Catalina Hangar, and the offices are situated in the building of Aviodrome. Two years later, Aviodrome ran into financial difficulties. KLM offered hangar space and office facilities at Schiphol East. DDA returned to Schiphol in November 2013.

At the foundation of DDA, the board consisted of one-person with a supervisory board, in 2013 the board consisted of five members, all with a long KLM history. An Advisory Board assists the board.

Due to the financial situation of the Association the board decided to focus on exploitation of the DC-3's and sell the other aircraft. The DC-4 leased to Springbok Classic Air had been on the ground since the bankruptcy of the company. The aircraft needed a new engine and a complete overhaul to restore the airworthiness. Located at the airport of Capetown, South Africa, the DC-4 was sold to the Flying Dutchman Foundation. When sufficient funds are available the Foundation has the intention to give the aircraft a complete overhaul and start operations in the Netherlands. In 2014-2015 they will perform a feasibility study on the restoration of the DC-4. The second DC-4, located at the premises of Aviodrome (the National Aviation Museum), Lelystad, was sold to the museum.

During the summer of 2012, one of the engines of the PH-DDZ failed. Prompted by the financial results, this aircraft was grounded. A fund-raising campaign was set-up for the acquisition of a new engine, which resulted in one quarter of the necessary money for a new engine. DDA will not be able to finance the cost of the engine nor the necessary overhaul to restore the airworthiness of the DDZ. After almost four years of inactivity the DDZ is sold to Aviodrome.

In 2020, government measures to prevent the spread of the Corona virus will cancel all flights from April to October. As a result, the budgeted revenue from flying with paying passengers will be cancelled. In order to keep the prospect of restarting the operation in 2021, cost-saving measures will be taken. The PH-PBA will be flown to Gilze Rijen where it will be stored until the beginning of next season. The hospitality of the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historical Flight Foundation is used with great gratitude. The third-party insurance will be suspended until the beginning of 2021. The maintenance during the storage will take place normally.


Airshow Photography by Henk Tito
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