Letter To The Editor: Love it! The DC-3 Airplane – Truck – Mobile Home. Thank You!

Cowboy State Daily reader Karl Brauneis of Lander thanked us for running the story about the airplane/truck combo vehicle and shared his memories as a smokejumper on the DC-3.

September 30, 20213 min read

Plane training class
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Editor’s note: This email is in response to the story “Weird Frankenstein-Looking Truck/Airplane Combo Spotted on Interstate 80” published on September 29, 2021 regarding a vehicle that was created out of a 1943 Douglas DC-3 aircraft and an International truck frame. It was spotted on Interstate 80 near Rawlins on Thursday.

By Karl Brauneis: Lander Wyoming

Love it! The DC-3 Airplane – Truck – Mobile Home. Thank You!

I made most of my jumps out of the radial engine DC-3’s as a smokejumper. (actually the military version C-47 that has a larger door that can be taken off for large cargo loading. This door was always intact as we used the smaller passenger door to jump and load and kick cargo). Only a trained eye could distinguish the difference.

We jumped both Forest Service  “Doug’s” and also contract “Doug’s”. In 1977 Chrysler out of Thermopolis, Wyoming had the Forest Service contract for I believe two Doug’s we had at Missoula, Montana. See above picture of my graduating class of 77.. They were painted in a blue color scheme. The Forest Service Doug’s were in the official aircraft orange color scheme.

After my rookie year I got the barracks room on the corner of the ramp where the Doug’s sat. In the morning the pilot’s would crank the engines to warm them up and make sure all was working a-ok. I had the window open to hear them crank and breath in that beautiful radial engine smoke. As a young man I was living in paradise. It might have been the 70’s in Missoula, Montana but to view the planes on the ramp ( also B-17 Retardant bomber’s) you would have thought it was England in 1943.

Third Picture – That’s Miss Montana in Miss Montana. She was the Doug that dropped the Man Gulch jumpers in 1949. The film Red Skies of Montana is based on that fire. Also in the Disney film about the smokejumpers ( A Fire Called Jerimiah) the Miss Montana of the time played the part of the Lookout in the film. In another Disney film the Wyoming actor Larry Wilcox (Of CHIPS fame) from I believe Rock Springs, WY played the part of the Lookout – Smokechaser in that film. Cool Stuff.

Last picture – jumping the Doug and a smokejumper salute. That is not me in the picture. When you get experienced we would give many different sign’s to the spotter and pilot before our chute opened (static line). I would simply wave if I was the last one out of the stick and watch the spotter pull in the static lines and he would wave back. (we jumped in 1, 2 or 3 man sticks depending on how big the jump spot was).

Anyhow, I thought you would get a kick out of the last one. As a rookie, your first couple of jumps your eye’s are closed and you scream out the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and check your canopy as you are trained. It get’s more fun the more experience and the what scares a veteran is the last 100 feet to landing in either in the trees or on the ground. . I got my 50 jump wings before I converted to a forester. What a life 🙂

I always thought that a DC-3 Fuselage would make a great addition to a Dinner or Bar. 

Thanks’ for the memories,

Karl Brauneis

Lander, WY

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