VAN BUREN TWP. -- The repainting of the very first airplane ever acquired by the Yankee Air Museum -- a World War II Douglas C-47 -- was announced Tuesday.

Kalitta Air, a worldwide company specializing in air freight services, will undertake the renovation work. The announcement was made jointly by Kalitta and the museum. Both organizations are based at Willow Run Airport.

"Our trusty transport 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' has flown 33 years bearing the markings of a 1960s U.S. Air Force trainer," Kevin Walsh, Yankee Air Museum executive director, said in a news release. "It needs a paint job badly, and as a museum, we need it to reflect the historic era for which it was built."

Walsh explained the that 72-year-old cargo plane was first delivered to the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1945. It flew in numerous governmental and quasi-governmental roles until being acquired by Yankee Air Museum in 1982.

After a 20-month restoration, the museum started flying the plane again in May 1984 and has been flying it ever since. It has been the perennial workhorse of the institution that separates itself from other area museums by the fact it flies and sells rides on historic airplanes.

Walsh said that Kalitta CEO Conrad "Connie" Kalitta and vice president Pete Sanderlin are accomplished aviators who understand the need to refinish the C-47. He said Yankee Air Museum's flyable aircraft hangar and Kalitta Air are on the west side of Willow Run Airport outside Ypsilanti, and are like old family friends, all growing up in the same neighborhood.

"They didn't hesitate to commit to this project. No one can imagine how much we appreciate their enthusiastic help," Walsh said.

"The C-47 Skytrain is legendary in air cargo transport, especially in World War II," said Connie Kalitta. "We are very happy to help."

Kalitta said the plane will be flown to the Kalitta Air maintenance facilities in Oscoda, where the work will be done. A timetable for the project has not been set, and the paint design is not being revealed at this time.

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