Texas Zephyr arrives in Burnet
The Texas Zephyr, a C47 Skytrain, landed at its new home in Burnet on Sunday, May 21, after undergoing years of restoration. The aircraft replaces the Bluebonnet Belle, a Douglas C47 Skytrain and an integral part of the Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force that crashed on takeoff in July 2018. All 13 people on board survived, although some received burn injuries. The Belle was damaged beyond repair.
A World War II-era plane, the Texas Zephyr was manufactured in 1945. It was donated to the local squadron in 2019 by Karl Ritter, who died just after ownership was transferred. It was restored over the past few years in Hondo and Brady.
Ritter’s family has been eagerly following the restoration process and the move to Kate Craddock Field in Burnet, said Kirk Noaker, CAF colonel of the Highland Lakes squadron.
“Karl, sir, we hope you’re smiling in Heaven today,” Noaker said as the plane arrived at about 12:20 p.m. Sunday.
The Zephyr was initially assigned to the Royal Canadian Air Force after it was built. It was classified as a C-47B at the time. Its designation changed to DC-33 when it was adapted to civilian service.
It wears part of its history on its bulkhead, where Lt. Col. Dick Cole signed his name in 2014 after flying the plane. At the time, Cole was the last surviving participant in the Doolittle Raid, which took place on April 18, 1942. He was co-pilot to Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, who led the U.S. air raid targeting major cities in Japan. Cole died on April 9, 2019, at the age of 103.