The Douglas Aircraft Company delivered the DC-3 PH-PBA to the 8th Air Force based in the United Kingdom on January 11th 1944. She was assigned factory number 19434.
During the Second World War she was operational during D-day to drop parachutists in Normandy. Her missions brought her to the Netherlands. The aircraft also participated in operation Market Garden.
In 1946 H.R.H. Prince Bernhard buys the aircraft from General Eisenhower. The aircraft with the military markings 42-100971 is registered in the Dutch aviation register as PH-PBA on January 6th. PH-PBA stands for ‘PH-‘ being the code for the Netherlands, PBA is short for Prince Bernhard Alpha. She became the first Dutch government airplane.
The Prince passed his type rating qualification November 13th the year after. Up until the introduction of the Fokker F27 in 1961 the DC-3 served as the government plane. There after the Dutch CAA used the DC-3 for calibration flights to control landing and navigation systems.
PH-PBA was not retired before 1975. The CAA donated the aircraft to the Aviodrome museum at Schiphol Airport. The first years she maintained her Government colours and was located at the entrance outside the museum. In 1982 she was briefly considered as the first aircraft for the Dutch Dakota Association, which was founded on March 10 that year. However, the association went for another DC-3.
On request of Aviodrome KLM paint sprayed the DC-3 in the 1950 KLM colour scheme with a fake registration and put the plain on display inside the museum.
For long H.R.H. Prince Bernhard kept a strong wish to restore the airplane to flying conditions. After a year of preparation in 1994 and a presentation at the Soestdijk Palace restoration works began.
With help of the Royal Dutch Air Force the airframe was transported to the UK for a complete maintenance with the aim to make the machine flying again.
The work continued well into 1998 when the aircraft was presented to the Prince for inspection at Schiphol Airport in the presence of H.R.H. Prince Willem-Alexander and Mr Pieter van Vollenhove.
In November 1998 the Dutch Dakota Association was granted the right to operate and maintain PH-PBA.
Until mid 2016 KLM is the most important sponsor of the Dutch Dakota Association by adopting the DC-3 PH-PBA. Every year the PBA made promotional flights for KLM in almost all European countries, which resulted in great media exposure and good advertising for KLM, the oldest airline in the world still operating.
In 2006 the PBA was repainted in a half KLM half Air France livery. She got her latest colours in the winter of 2010-11 when she was baptized 'Princess Amalia' after the oldest daughter of King Willem-Alexander and successor to the Dutch throne.
In June 2014, this aircraft joined the Normandy sightseeing flights on the remembrance of D-Day, 70 years ago. This was a special request from the organization of 'Daks over Normandy'. During these days, the PH-PBA also flew over the original dropzone 'O'.
Every year from April till October the PH-PBA still flies with passengers from around the world. This 'Grand Old Lady' is an important ambassador for the Dutch Historical Aviation. Have a look at the flightplan 2018 and find out how to book a flight.