Setting the record straight on `Dixie'

Posted: Friday, May 26, 2000

Historical accuracy can be elusive sometimes. I heartily thank the Empire for bringing our airplane in Petersburg to Juneau's attention. As a surviving relic of a heroic period in our country's history, and for her own documented role in Alaska aviation ``Dixie'' is worthy of such recognition.

But I was surprised to find myself named as having said that she flew in the South Pacific with Maj. Gregory Boyington's Black Sheep Squadron during World War II. This is one of the very myths about Dixie that I wish would stop circulating. There is no documentary evidence that she did and she almost certainly did not. Maj. Boyington had a reputation for telling some real whoppers in his time; this is one I hope he's enjoying wherever he is. Boyington's connection with Dixie springs from an invitation that he got from the organizers of the air museum in Fairbanks to speak there late in his life. He was flown from his home in California to Fairbanks and then flown around that area in Dixie on that occasion as the guest of its Alaska owner Ken Martin, who provided me with that information.

Dixie is a C47-A, a type of aircraft used extensively during WWII to ferry troops and cargo all over the world. They saw service in the Solomon Islands, took part in the Burma airlift and supported Allied troops against Rommel in North Africa. It would be hard to find an Allied theater of operations from which they were absent during that conflict. Dixie was built and undoubtedly flown in those years, but that doesn't mean she singlehandedly turned the tide of any battles. Her service in Alaska, incidentally, was much more recent, entirely commercial and ended in 1989.

Ended, that is, unless we are able to bring her up to Juneau and restore her for display. If so, then she might have one more job to do. I'm encouraged by the level of support in Juneau for carrying out such a project.

Mike OrfordJuneau



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