This blog will follow the restoration of the Potomac Pacemaker, a former Piedmont Airlines DC-3 airplane now housed at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C.

The Potomac Pacemaker arrived at the NCTM in 2004, after it was acquired from the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C. The Museum plans to eventually display it in its massive Back Shop building, also currently under restoration.

Restoration of the Potomac Pacemaker began in earnest in April 2010. Work is being done primarily by volunteers, and will be funded through donations and grants.

Piedmont Airlines began flying Douglas DC-3 airplanes in 1948 and were named “Pacemakers,” fitting with the company’s new slogan, “Piedmont sets the pace.”

The Potomac Pacemaker was manufactured as a C-53 by Douglas Aircraft Company on March 20, 1942. The C-53 is a version of the DC-3 with a maximum gross weight of 29,300 pounds. During World War 11 this aircraft remained in the United States and on January 10, 1945, it was withdrawn from service and moved to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

On August 1, 1949 it was purchased by Western Airlines and registered as NC 18600. On January 12, 1956 it was purchased by Piedmont Airlines and reregistered as N56V and named Potomac Pacemaker. It operated at Piedmont Airlines until February 20, 1963. It had logged 48,000 hours of service and was traded to Charlotte Aircraft Company as part of the purchase of TWA’s Martin 404 fleet.

In 1978 the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C. obtained the aircraft, where it was displayed outside for many years. In 2004, the North Carolina Transportation Museum accepted N56V, and it was moved in pieces into this building in 2004, where it sits today, and where the majority of restoration work is being performed.



  1. What a beautiful airplane the DC 3 was and still is. I was hired with Piedmont in Feb 1980 and started on the YS 11 so this airplane was before my time in the history books with piedmont airlines. I did however get to fly the DC 3 prior to employment with Piedmont Airlines and have many fond memeries in her about 6000hrs. Everytime I see one I day dream of these memories. I think what you are doing is fantastic and I will certainly monitor your progress on restoring this old Bird and one day get to visit her when she is finished. Keep up the great work God bless Capt Henry Degraaff CLT Based Airbus

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