Lyon Air Museum ‘C-47 Day’
Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010


SANTA ANA, Calif., Nov. 16, 2010—The Douglas C-47 Dakota “Willa Dean” military transport aircraft, one of the most spectacular planes in Lyon Air Museum’s collection, will take to the air at 12 noon on “C-47 Day,” Sat., Dec. 11, 2010. The Museum is located at John Wayne Airport.

“The ‘Willa Dean’ has had a long and successful service life dating back to World War II,” said Mark Foster, president of Lyon Air Museum, a premier Southern California showcase for vintage military aircraft and automobiles. “This day is an opportunity for Museum visitors to get a rare glimpse of one of the most complete and original C-47s still in operation.”

The Museum’s Douglas C-47 Dakota was originally part of the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF), the U.S. military aviation arm during and immediately after World War II. In May 1945, the plane was sold by the USAAF to France. Unlike so many of its contemporary planes, this aircraft continued to fly for the most part unmodified. In 1967, it again changed ownership, transferring to the Israelis. The plane continued service in Israel without major modification and was ultimately sold to the civilian market, where it found its way to Lyon Air Museum.

Rechristened “Willa Dean” in honor of the wife of the Museum’s founder Maj. Gen. William Lyon, USAF (Ret), the aircraft now carries the colors of the 440th Troop Carrier Group’s 97th Troop Carrier Squadron, complete with D-Day Invasion Stripes.

The aircraft is nine tons (empty) of machinery with two 1,200-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-1830 “Twin Wasp” 14-cylinder radial engines. It is nearly 64 feet in length, 17 feet in height and has a 96-ft. wingspan. During operations, it had a service ceiling of 26,400 feet. As a military personnel transport, it carried a crew of three (pilot, co-pilot and navigator) and 28 troops.

Manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company, the Douglas C-47 Dakota (or Skytrain) was developed from the Douglas DC-3 airliner for use as a military transport aircraft. More than 10,000 of the aircraft were produced in Long Beach and Santa Monica, Calif., and Oklahoma City, Okla.

During World War II, the armed forces of many countries used the C-47 and modified DC-3s for the transport of troops, cargo and wounded. After World War II, thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civil airline use.

The 30,000-sq.ft. Lyon Air Museum opened in Dec. 2009. The facility represents the fulfillment of a dream of Maj. Gen. William Lyon, USAF (Ret), who held the position of Chief of the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 1975 to 1979. Currently, Gen. Lyon is Chairman of the Board and CEO of William Lyon Homes, Inc., Newport Beach, Calif. His passion for aviation history and youth education is the driving force behind Lyon Air Museum. In establishing the museum, Gen. Lyon sought to create a world-class facility that would be available to the local community and would offer educational displays to inspire young people. The museum has on exhibit some of the world’s rarest operational aircraft and vehicles.

Lyon Air Museum is located at 19300 Ike Jones Road, Santa Ana, CA 92707. P: 714/210-4585. F: 714/210-4588. Email: Web:

Hours of operation are daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission rates: General admission–$8; Seniors and Veterans–$6; Ages 5-17–$4; Under age 5—Free. Groups of 10 or more–$1 off each visitor. Pre-arranged school groups—Free.

Media Contact:
Ned Madden
Rodheim Marketing Group