What Airplane Are You? I am a Basler BT-67

12:06 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor
Way back in the day, I made a clunky, silly Facebook game called “What Airplane Are You?” It was game development 101, a typical Facebook game where you answered a few questions and the game told you what make and model of airplane you are. I uploaded a bunch of photos, wrote a few silly questions, and it randomly spit out the answer. It did not matter what answers you gave, the game just picked an airplane, and that was you. People ate it up, until it broke under the strain of one too many Facebook game upgrades.
When I played the “game” myself, I learned I was a DC-3.
Now while the game’s answers were totally random, it got me right. Anyone that knows me from way back in the day would probably agree with that assessment. I was sturdy, dependable, honest, and gave you 100% all the time. Let’s look at Dano back in those days:
From 1977 to 1986, I worked on a big produce dock in Fresno, schlepping boxes of produce from one truck to the next, from one cold room to another. It was insanely hard work, and pushing my trusty “clamp truck” (think large hand truck with two clamps you kicked shut to grab a stack of boxes higher than your head), I’d move as much fruits and veggies as one human could move by walking about 15 miles per shift. It was before produce was shipped on pallets, so everything came in on the floor of 45’ reefer or dry vans and had to be hand-stacked and trucked off to await delivery somewhere on the dock. And like a DC-3, I showed up every night, rarely broke down, and moved more freight than I was designed to move.
Fast-forward a decade or so, and you’d find me in another highly physical role, this time as a human forklift yanking gigantic (and seriously mucho heavy) pallets of tortillas out of my 53’ dry van for the largest tortilla maker in California. As one of their “Distribution Drivers,” I would cover Cali, working incredibly long hours and the work was killer. I would make runs from the factory in Fresno to various small distribution centers for the route drivers to pick up their tortillas and continue on to the shelf. Again, like a trusty DC-3, I showed up, worked hard, and didn’t break down.
Until I did. Literally:
When the job of pulling around pallets of corn tortillas weighing up to 1,400 lbs. with a hand pallet jack finally took its toll on my body, and the people at Workers Comp said they’d retrain me, I talked them into a full ride at the Graphics Arts Institute in San Francisco to learn graphic design using QuarkXpress. I had been in and around journalism and printing since 1979, so this made logical sense. It was a battle to convince Workers Comp I could be something more glamorous than the Dog Groomer or Forklift Driver they wanted to retrain me as, but I won, and here I am today.
That was the early 1990s, and since that time, I have undergone a massive conversion not unlike the ones performed at Basler Turbo Conversions in Oshkosh, WI. They take usable DC-3s, and go over every part, replacing most before stretching the fuselage, completely upgrading the panel and hanging a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67R turboprop engine on each wing. Their BT-67s are a work of art, very clean, well engineered, and they give an old airplane new life.
So when I got out of graphics school and opened the ad agency I continue to operate today, it was as if Basler did the conversion. Sure, I was a 1956 model, but I had undergone tip-to-tail mods that made me something very new and highly efficient. Gone was the gruff Teamster who could weave a seven-high stack of banana boxes between a stack of 88 Sunkist oranges and five 100 lb. sacks of Premium Idaho Russets. Also gone was the spunky lad who could firewall a Peterbilt up Highway 99 in the middle of the night jacked up on Mountain Dew and thread the needle between a drunk driving a Yugo and an overpass support beam with roughly 56,000 pounds of warm tortillas trying to crawl up my ass.
During my conversion from DC-3 to Basler BT-67, engineers determined that the hard drive (my brain) that came in 1956 models left much to be desired. So along the way, I have had numerous upgrades installed, and now I can thrash Adobe’s Creative Suite like a millennial. At the last upgrade, they also installed the fancy new social media module, so I can play ball in today’s youth oriented culture. My “airframe” is still a 1956 model, so it will not take the beating from a Rugby league, but since I am based on the DC-3, I can still mow an acre of lawn and whack a million weeds or cut a cord of firewood, because I came out of the factory in Fresno built to work.
So, what airplane are YOU? My silly Facebook game is long gone, and I am asking that you give this some thought and tweet me at @Av8rdan with your answer. Maybe you are like me and have had a few great upgrades and modifications, or it could be you have and always will be a P-51 Mustang fighter. Maybe you started life as a Convair F-106 Delta Dart but have since had the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II upgrade making you faster, more agile, with a killer instinct. Whatever it is, jump over to Twitter and let me and the rest of the #avgeeks know, and use the hashtag #IAmAnAirplane.
I await your tweets. This is going to be fun.

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