I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published September 19th 2011
If you haven't thought about it before you need to put it on your 'bucket list' - dinner on a classic old lady of the skies that is.
And in Melbourne you need look no further than the Silver Clipper Flight operated by Essendon based Shortstop Jet Charter.
The Douglas DC3, or 'Gooney Bird' as it's universally known, is one of the great icons of aviation. First flown on December 17th 1935, thirty-two years to the day after the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk, more than sixteen thousand Douglas DC3's, or C47 DAKOTA's as they were known in military service, were produced and formed the backbone of civil and military air transport around the world for decades.
VH-OVM, the pride of the SHORTSTOP fleet, formerly served with the RAAF.
VH-OVM was purchased and refurbished in 1989 after some years in service with the RAAF. It was in pristine condition then and remains a shining example of the type today.
Capable of carrying 28 passengers "OSCAR VICTOR MIKE" features modern, comfortable fittings, has been retrofitted with special noise reduction materials and is crewed by two pilots and two flight attendants.
Passengers are treated to drinks and nibbles in the VIP lounge before embarking on a circumnavigation of Port Phillip Bay taking approximately 70 minutes, all the while enjoying a light but elegant 'hamper' style meal and selection of beers, wine, champagne and non-alcoholic beverages. In the right conditions you might also be lucky enough to score an invitation to the flight deck for an unsurpassed view of Melbourne and surrounds.
Post flight it's back to the lounge for Port and coffee.
The Douglas DC3 or 'Gooney Bird' was the backbone of Australian airline operations postwar including service with Australian National Airways (ANA) and Trans Australia Airlines (TAA).
Passengers are encouraged to dress for the occasion with smart casual or cocktail wear being the minimum acceptable standard. The all inclusive price of the Silver Clipper Dinner Flight is $269 per person.
Other options available include breakfast and luncheon flights, sight-seeing over Melbourne and the 12 Apostles, a 1930s cocktail party and 'special flights' to King and Flinders Island's in Bass Strait and Brown Brothers Winery at Milawa.
Prices start from as low as $115 per person for group and corporate bookings.
Shortstop also offer their historic and comfortable "Silver Clipper VIP Lounge" for social and corporate occasions.
'HAWDON' served with Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) for many years. Now restored she is seen regularly at airshows around Australia.