Breitling once again is demonstrating the watch company’s passion for aviation this summer as its historic DC-3 aircraft circumnavigates the globe inspiring today’s youth while becoming the oldest aircraft to fly around the world.
Built in 1939, this Douglas Commercial 3 HB-IRJ was delivered to American Airlines the following year. The twin prop aircraft was later introduced to military service during World War II before returning to commercial airline service. And, like a good timepiece, the precision flight and timeless beauty of this DC-3 has made the iconic aircraft a popular attraction during its historic flight.
The Breitling DC-3 is scheduled to make 13 promotional stops across the United States as the aircraft’s crew support both the thrill of flight and the education associated with aviation. The monoplane will also make stops in Canada’s Toronto and Goose Bay in August.
“This aircraft played such an important role in American history and it is a privilege to share it with American aviation fans,” Breitling DC-3 Captain Francisco Agullo said on Tuesday. “We look forward to seeing this country’s rich culture and passion for aviation and look forward to wrapping up our time in the U.S. at Breitling’s flagship boutique in New York.”
Today, the white and silver aircraft, blazoned with Breitling’s signature B script logo on its vertical stabilizer, is poised to complete the final leg of its journey. As of July 4, the precision aircraft had traveled 32,381 km after having flown across nearly two-thirds of the globe.
The nearly 20-meter long plane is powered by two upgraded Pratt and Whitney R-1830 engines which can keep the DC-3 aloft for eight hours or nearly 1,500 miles.
Headquartered in Dijon, France, the aircraft is sponsored by the Swiss watch manufacturer due in part by the company’s rich history in aviation. Breitling watches were strapped to the wrists of many aviation pioneers including NASA astronauts en route to the Moon’s surface.
Flying along with the crew is a special cargo containing 500 Navitimer aviation chronographs. The steel Navitimer 01 (46 mm) is distinguished with an engraving on its case back with the logo of Breitling’s DC-3 World Tour. The watches will be available to the public around October.
“We are thrilled to present these limited-edition Navitimer watches to give our customers the opportunity to take a piece of this historic event with them,” Breitling USA President Thierry Prissert told AVGeekery.com on Wednesday. “Having these watches circle the globe on one of the most iconic planes in history allows us to share our passion for aviation with people in the United States.”
On March 9, Breitling’s historic Douglas DC-3 HB-IRJ launched on it’s round-the-world flight from its home in Geneva, Switzerland — 77 years to the day of it’s inaugural flight. Later, the monoplane traveled the length of the Adriatic Sea to Athens, Greece, followed by stops in Israel and Jordan. The pilots of the DC-3 then flew the aircraft across Saudi Arabia, India, and around southeast Asia — stopping at select locations — before making six stops through out May in Japan.
June opened with the aircraft’s departure from the island country on June 6 to begin it’s long trek across the Pacific Ocean and northeast to Alaska and stop number 37 — Anchorage.
The DC-3 will soar across California making two-day stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles on July 11 and 13, respectively. Visits to Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, and St. Louis will keep the aircraft busy the third week of July before Breitling arrives at the country’s largest airshow.
The DC-3 is expected to become a popular attraction at the Oshkosh AirVenture Airshow the entire last week of July. Chicago, Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York will round out the American Tour in August.
Breitling’s DC-3 will skirt around the northern Atlantic to begin it’s European tour during the closing days of August.
As the DC-3 soars over Europe, the Breitling Jet Team’s European Tour continues through the summer as well as the watch manufacture incorporates their love of flying and their skill and quality of a good time piece.
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates on social media via @Military_Flight.)