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Pioneer Air Lines Douglas DC-3


Model ID#:












H. Davidson

Model Scale:




historical significance

First Albuquerque Visit:    1948

SKU: Model-0258 Categories: ,

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The Douglas DC-3 is a propeller-driven airliner manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company, which revolutionized the airline industry in the 1930s to 1940s and more importantly World War II. It was developed as a larger and improved 14-bed sleeper version of the Douglas DC-2. The DC-3 is a low-wing metal monoplane with conventional landing gear and was powered by two radial piston Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines. Later civilian DC-3s used the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines. The DC-3 has a cruising speed of just over 200 mph and a capacity of 21 to 32 passengers or 6,000 pounds of cargo, along with a range of 1,500 miles. The total production of DC-3’s, including all military variants, ended after 16,079 aircraft were made. As of 2023 it is estimated that about 150 DC-3’s are still flying around the world.

Pioneer Air Lines was established in 1939 under the name Essair Airways and based in Houston, Texas. The name was changed to Pioneer in 1946 and the carrier flew routes within the state of Texas. Service was expanded into New Mexico on May 1, 1948 with a route from Albuquerque to Dallas stopping at Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Tucumcari, and Clovis, New Mexico as well at Lubbock, Abilene, Mineral Wells, and Fort Worth, Texas. Pioneer had a U. S. air mail contract designated as mail route 64 and the carrier used 21-seat Douglas DC-3 aircraft.

Pioneer Air Lines began service to Albuquerque in 1948 using 21-passenger Douglas DC-3’s on a route to Dallas. The route made multiple stops at Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Tucumcari, and Clovis in New Mexico as well as Lubbock and several more cities in Texas. A second route was also added from Amarillo to El Paso making stops at Clovis, Roswell, and Las Cruces, New Mexico. The stops at Las Vegas and Tucumcari were soon discontinued and the DC-3’s were upgraded with larger Martin 2-0-2 aircraft in 1952. The 2-0-2’s were short lived however and Pioneer soon reverted back to flying DC-3’s. Pioneer was then purchased by Continental Airlines in 1955. One DC-3 serving New Mexico was N1968.

A Pioneer DC-3 in the original livery parked at the old Albuquerque Municipal Airport terminal.

A Pioneer DC-3 in a new livery featuring a buffalo on the tail.