Riding my FXDWG

Monday, 23 September 2013

Dakota Doomsday Party

The Dakota Doomsday Party 

Broken Wings, rusted Parts, corroded aluminum, loose Parts, a total state of destruction. The Dakota L-4 made in 1944 in Oklahoma, USA couldn’t have looked more sad than the state it was in, when we arrived for the Dakota DoomsDay Party on Sunday September the 15th. at the Valkenburg Naval Air Station near Katwijk in the Netherlands. It was a farewell party, attended by many WWII Veterans and Dakota lovers. Farewell Party, because the very next day the Dakota was completely dismantled.

“Last Monday 16 Sept. 2013, we disassembled our Dakota L-4 on Valkenburg Naval Air Station. After nearly 70 years of flying in the rough and the tough and standing in the open air, a sad road transport accident in 2010 sheared the fuselage from the central wingsection,”says Hans Wiesman, owner of the Dakota, “leaving the derelict Dakota in a sorry state. Its backbone was cracked on the highway A-44, against a concrete "Atlantik" wall in the middle of the fly-over at the Kaagdorp exit. In May 2013, we bought this wrecked Douglas C-47/ Dakota.”

In 2010, the plane was transported on a flatbed trailer, from the "Wings of Liberation" Museum in Best (Brabant) to Valkenburg, near The Hague. The itinerary was checked in every detail with the road authorities, in order to pass only bridges and tunnels by night, that could handle the 6+ meters wide cargo of the fuselage and attached central wing section with engine nacelles and landing gear. 

However, disaster struck at the very last fly-over on the A-44 Highway, only a few miles away from the final destination at Valkenburg, where this WW II war relic was supposed to play a role in the brand new musical "Soldaat van Oranje". 
Hans: “This fly-over features a harrowing narrowing wedge of the four lanes, with as side walls and central separation acting like a sort of "Altlantik Wall", that was presumably built in WW II with surplus concrete from the nearby bunker construction works. Quite massive and bullet proof stuff, not good for negotiating any room to move aside!”

The transport rode up to the fly-over, unaware of the huge mouse trap straight ahead of them and slammed the aircraft fixed and finished between the walls. It took a monster crane 5 hours to get the Dakota out of this awkward position, and in its agony, the Dakota L-4 was parked as a crippled gate guard next to the Theatre Hangar Hall, where the musical started its most successful carreer in Sept. 2010. Inspite of its derelict and sad condition, the C-47 was there to become the photogenic idol of the musical visitors for a snapshot with the family. 

“Now 3 years and a million visitors later, we have come to the final act. The musical carries on and on for an indefinite time with a another intact C-47 aircraft. But this ex-USAAF , ex Air France Dakota L-4, that was also parked along the highway from Brussels to Luxembourg for years, will be separated. We will see that not one single part of this icon will be disposed of. We have some ambitious plans to extend the life and soul of all parts, be it not in the shape of a complete aircraft.”

Damaged beyond economical repair, it was decided to take the plane apart and split it up in pieces so it could live on in better conditions than rotting away in a muddy field, only half a mile away from the North Sea.

Saying a last goodbye to the Dakota

Prior to the disassembly, Hans Wiesman and his company Avionart, organised the Dakota Doomsday Party on Sunday 15 Sept, a farewell meeting that was attended by WW II Jeeps, Trucks and Army Harley-Davidsons as a tribute to this Warbird Dakota, the Aluminum Soldier that will never fly again. 
Hans: “Thanks for all those who came to see the final picture of this Hero and appreciation for the owners/ drivers of the many vehicles, that showed up and created a wonderful line-up of contemporary American war-machine icons.” 

Farewell Dakota!

The cockpit was separated and will become a Flight trainer/ simulator for new pilots that would love to learn to fly this WWII legend. The works on the world's first ever built fully RLD/ FAA certified C-47 flight sim/trainer will be executed by the experts of MPS (www.flymps.com), in cooperation with Bart Nopper and the Dutch Dakota Association (DDA). Not bad for a dumped piece of partly corroded aluminum, that waited three years for the shredder.
Hans Wiesman: “The tail and wings will go to Dutch companies that use the sections for decoration of their own buildings. The fuselage will be used for my company Avionart (www.avionart.com), in order to make high end lounge-tables, desks and vintage aviation related interior objects.”

Me and my friend 'Dakota Hunter' Hans Wiesman

What is left from the lower fuselage section will be recycled and used for the manufacturing of a limited series authentic Dakota/C-47 Watch, that will come with a certification plate, made from the L-4 skin and a shiny aluminium clock housing, cast from this iconic Dakota L-4 that was produced in 1944 in Oklahoma, USA. This "war relic watch" comes for sale later this year, manufactured by Aeromeister.

The total operation was filmed for a TV Documentary by van Osch Film Productions, under the name Broken Dreams Documentary (http://vimeo.com/62773642). 
Will be shown next year on TV!

“My adventures and multiple expeditions to Alaska, Yukon, Bolivia, Colombia, Africa etc. in search for the lost and last Dakota were all written down in my book "Dakota Hunter". The English version ( www.dakotahunter.org) is in the process of translation and foreseen to be published by end of this year. The book will have an added chapter about my venture with this Dakota L-4, and an extra number of spectacular photos will be encapsulated, on top of the 240+ pictures in the book.” (Dutch version available via my publisher www.elikser.nl or any good bookshop and bol.com)

 Avionart, Hans Wiesman



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