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VOLUME 6 - NO. 5 PUBLISHED AND PRINTED BY PIEDMONT AVIATION, INC. MAY 1954
FIRST PIEDMONT EXECUTIVE CONVERSION COMPLETED
REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY GETS DC-3
On December 22, 1953, N-52183, a veteran TWA Cargoliner, was rolled into Piedmont's Overhaul
Hangar. Five months later, April 17, 1954, a resplendent executive DC-3, N-16R, rolled out and
took to the air. What took place in those five months of overhaul is a tale long to be remembered by
those v/ho took part in it.
As is the case with Piedmont conversions, the airplane was completely
overhauled from nose to empennage. Again, as usual, no detail con
tributing to the safety of the ship was overlooked. Every operating sys
tem was dismantled, checked, worn components replaced, then pain
stakingly assembled and reinstalled. A step door similar to those used
on Piedmont airplanes was framed for and installed, a picture window
was set into the fuselage, the floor was lowered and special framing set
in to receive the seating. A custom overhead radio and electrical panel
was designed by the Radio Shop as was new circuitry to serve the en
tirely new radio system.
With the roughing-in completed, fin
ishing and final assembly got under
way. Quarter-sawed walnut panel
ing, lacquer finished and rubbed to
a luster was installed, a soft gray-
beige headliner installed, matching
curtains with camels embroidered on
them hung, speakers between each
pair of windows concealed, and fold
ing tables between each set of seats
fabricated and in
stalled. As the interior
progressed, work on
the exterior of the air
The entire ship was
painted an off white
with a broad dark
brown stripe down the
side of the fuselage, brown trim on the nose,
brown nacelles and brown trim on the vertical
stabilizer and rudder. Inset in the brown trim
v/as a brilliant blue stripe. The final touch came
with the application of an insignia of five tobacco
leaves in 23 carat gold leaf with a dark brown
While work on the airplane itself was progressing,
the engines were sent through overhaul, hardware
nickel plated and nose cases painted a soft gray-
blue. The engines were checked on the engine
analyzer and showed not a single flaw.
Throughout the entire conversion, evidences of fine craftsmanship abound. One
of the most striking things one notices is the way everything fits, smoothly and
accurately. Captain Herb Drew, former Winston-Salem Captain, and Copilot
Curly Kandzer, former Wilmington Lead Mechanic, are both loud in their praise.
The approximately 12,500 manhours spent on construction, installation and in
spection are an indication of the attention to detail which went into the conver
sion of the ship.
So many people had a hand in the work that it would be impossible to name them
all, and it would be difficult to single out any particular group for special praise.
The Piedmonitor wants to extend to every single person who worked on this air
plane a thoroughly deserved "Well done".