3:03 PM

Kids and airplanes.

A few years ago, I was visiting Annapolis, Maryland to take a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy, and saw something I will never forget.

We were staying at a B & B that was underneath the approach to BWI, and was out on the lawn enjoying an afternoon with the young children of my wife’s niece. As a large airliner roared by, young Rachel – then about 18 months old – spotted the inbound, raised her cute little finger to the sky, and with a ear-to-ear grin, declared “Aiw-pwane!”

So that has become the family method of notifying others in the general area that an aircraft is overhead. Thanks Rachie, you’re a sweetheart.

Every time I think of that day in Annapolis, I remind myself how important airplanes are to kids. And one of the more important airplanes to many children is Duggy the DC-3. If you are like me and drool over the sight and sound of a –3, then Duggy has to be top of the food chain among really, really cool Gooneys.

Illustrator Mitch Carley created a drawing of Duggy in 1973, as part of a school report. However, Mitch never left focus on operating a real DC-3 as Duggy (based on a ‘73 school report). In order to do this, Carley joined up with “Capt. Bob” Odegaard and “Capt. Rob” Challans to take Duggy off the pages and on to local and international airshow fame.

Carley's dream is now reality, and it is touring the country's Air Shows with a primary mission of promoting positive character building traits. Duggy's core message is, "Know good from bad, right from wrong, respect others and chase your dream!"

Here are some little-known facts about Duggy:

• Friendly – considers most other planes to be his ‘best friend’
• Reliable – always willing to help and often getting in trouble due to over-extending himself
• Duggy has a secret ‘crush’ on “Connie” the Constellation
• Born: 1939
• Nickname: The Smile in the Sky
• Crew: Butch, Hangar Crew, School Kids
Smilin' 'Duggy' DC-3 Returns to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this July where it will be on display at AeroShell Square throughout the week. "Duggy" will also be used as a jump plane by the Liberty Parachute Team for the opening of the afternoon air show each day at Oshkosh.

The airplane was built in 1942 and served in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. The airplane was then owned by Transport Canada for 50 years before Harry Barr bought it in 1995. In 1998, Harry Thompson and Bob Odegaard obtained the airplane and in 2005, the DC-3 was reconditioned in its bright “Duggy” paint scheme created by illustrator Mitch Carley and began its “Dreams Do Come True!” mission at aviation events throughout the country.

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