I was surfing the Internet, specifically the incredible, Goleta Air and Space Museum a while ago and I came across some pix of a familiar looking plane. It was a white DC-7C prop plane with orange and white stripes. As it turns out the said plane was the same one that was used for the final scenes in the 1973 classic, American Graffiti. How did I know it was the same one seen in the film even though it didn't have Magic Carpet Airlines painted on the side? Well, as I learned, apparently planes are assigned a license or registration number that is displayed prominently on the side of the aircraft and remains with it for its entire life regardless of how it is used or how many times it changes hands. The number makes it easier to track its history compared to automobiles. Movie car fans know what I’m talking about. The serial number of the DC-7C featured in Graffiti was N5903. Because this particular aircraft, built in 1956, was somewhat rare, aircraft enthusiasts and aficionados would occasionally snap a pic of the airplane when it was spotted in a particular airport. Thus, we are blessed with some really cool photos of the 4-engine plane. And, so, your buddy, Kip is here to provide you with an incredible pictorial history of this beautiful aircraft. Dig it baby! Please note all of the pix on this particular post are published with the permission of the photo owners. So don’t be a "Dick" and steal these. If you want to borrow or use a particular photo, please write and ask for permission. Thank you for not smoking and have a nice day.
|Our future movie plane began it's history as a commercial passanger plane in 1956 for Braniff International Airways. The once popular airlines was in operation from 1930 until 1982.|
In November 1969 the future movie plane was bought by Club America, Inc. This picture was taken in 1970 at the William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas.
|This pic taken at the Chicago Midway Airport in late-1971 shows the future movie prop plane with Grand Funk Railroad's name painted on the side. Soon after this pic was taken, the 4-engine plane was bought by Magic Carpet Air Travel Club.|
This photo taken at Chandler Memorial Airport in Arizona on 10/11/1984 is the last known photo of the proud old aircraft before its demise. Two years later on 10/09/1986 the plane flew it's last flight at the Dakar-Yoff airport in Senegal (the north-western coastal portion of Africa.) The DC-7C was taking off and once the gears had retracted the #4 engine stopped and the propeller feathered, the plane lost altitude and ditched off Dakar. The three crew members died and the only passenger on the plane survived injuries.
From commercial passenger plane to movie star, to firefighter, the classic 4-engine, DC-7C (N5903) had a good 30-year run and will forever remain an important part of film history. Trivia Fact: The steps that led to the plane in Graffiti were mounted on a post-1962, late-model truck. To avoid conflicting with the early-sixties time line a white Ford van (1964 model?) was parked in front of the truck to hide it from the cameras.
- Aircraft Accident Douglas DC-7C. Aviation Safety Network. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19861009-1
- Airliners.Net. http://www.airliers.net/search/photo.search?regsearch=N5903
- Douglass DC-6 & DC-7C Tankers. Air & Space Museum. http://air-and-space.com
- Sturhahn Larry. (1999) The filming of american graffiti. In Kline, S. (Ed.), George Lucas interviews (conversations with filmakers series). University Press of Mississippi.