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PP-VBF was the historic aircraft that was recently demolished. (Photo: RuthAS [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)])

Outrage in Brazil as Historic C-47/DC-3 is Shockingly Scrapped

The Brazilian aviation community was put in shock this Friday upon the news of the scrapping of a historic Douglas C-47/DC-3 in Rio de Janeiro. Emerged images of the destroyed aircraft, one of the most famous remaining DC-3s of the country, spread quickly on social media and generated a huge backlash.

The aircraft was registered PP-VBF and belonged to VARIG, the historic airline officially bankrupt in 2010. Sitting in the yard of Rio de Janeiro/Galeão Airport branch of Fundação Ruben Berta, VARIG’s old workers association and airline controller, the Douglas aircraft was scrapped by order of the bankruptcy estate controller.

Questioned by the press, RIOgaleão, the airport authority, stated that “the aircraft in question was localized in an area ceded by the [airport] concessionaire, over which there was no management by the airport administration” and that “FLEX Aviation Center, responsible for VARIG’s bankruptcy estate, conducted all the remotion process.”

Indeed, the bankruptcy estate even motioned a solution attempt, offering the aircraft to MUSAL, the Brazilian Air Force museum, states an article published by Newsavia. However, the museum management denied the offering, claiming high transportation costs.

There are several examples of private preserving of the aviation history in Brazil — one of the most famous examples being a DC-3, PP-ANU, that was saved from the abandoned VARIG Museum collection in Porto Alegre. However, this did not happen with PP-VBF.

PP-ANU was saved from the abandoned VARIG Museum in Porto Alegre and then completely restored. This did not happen with PP-VBF, however. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | João Machado)

These examples amplified the outrage from aviation enthusiasts on the scrapping of the DC-3. There was no public warning or an open effort for a solution — either public or private — before the one-sided decision over the destruction of PP-VBF, an aircraft with a lot of history.

Numbered CN10156, Douglas C-47A-50-DL was originally delivered to the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in August 1943, serving in Peterson, Colo., Smoky Hill, Kan., and San Bernardino, Calif.

On June 1946, it was transfered to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation as war surplus. Later it was transfered to Hughes Aircraft Corporation, founded by the legendary Howard Hughes, as NC68358.

CN10156 was finally delivered to VARIG as PP-VBF in December 1947 during the first boom of the Brazilian aviation triggered by the low prices of war surplus aircraft, starting operations the following month. VBF operated for VARIG until August 1971, when it was transported to Rio de Janeiro.

VBF was first put on exhibition at the Parque do Flamengo, but after routinely suffering depredation, it was removed by VARIG, which completely restored it and moved it to Galeão Airport. After moving three additional times, the aircraft finally rested next to the Fundação Ruben Berta building.

With VARIG’s crisis and bankruptcy, VBF got virtually abandoned, suffering from lack of care and corrosion. But as stated Ruy Flemming, a Brazilian enthusiast, “the DC-3, or C-47 if you prefer, resisted to the bad weather and hostile conditions. It faced a war, but its biggest misfortune was ending its days in Brazil.”

João Machado
João Machado
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