OH-VKB Douglas DC-3 Kar-Air

1973 - 1937 built DC-3 received a second Live as a Geological Research Aircraft


OH-VKB Douglas DC-3, OH-KDA Douglas DC-6BST, OH-VKU Lockheed Lodestar all of Kar-Air, Helsinki, July 1972, All images Zoggavia Collection.

During my first Interrail trip to Finland in July 1972, I had my first encounter with Kar-Air (also known as Karhumäki Airways). I received the necessary permits to enter the airfield at Helsinki Airport and was amazed by the sight of aircraft with piston engines. I noticed another DC-6, OH-KDB, parked nearby while OH-KDC had already departed for Antwerp, Belgium. This experience made me realize that I would definitely be visiting this airport again in the future.


c/n MSN 1975 OH-VKB Douglas DC-3A-214 Kar-Air at Helsinki in July 1972.

The DC-3A-214 aircraft was built in Santa Monica in 1937. It was dismantled and transported to the Netherlands, where it was assembled, tested, and registered as SE-BAC for the Swedish ABA airline. The plane, named Falken, arrived in Malmö on September 26, 1937. It flew under ABA colors until it was transferred to SAS on April 1, 1948, and named Folke Viking.

On January 12, 1954, the plane was sold as OH-VKB to Veljekset Karhumäki Oy and flown to Malmi the next day. The aircraft was later transferred to Kar-Air Oy on April 26, 1957.


In this photo, taken in 1956, passengers boarded OH-VKB for a domestic flight from Helsinki Seutala (now Vantaa) airport. Please note that during that time, the passenger entry door was on the starboard (right-hand) side, although it later changed to the port side.

OH-VKB was the last of DC-3 planes of Kar-Air that was not sold off. This is because it was used for check flights of ILS systems, starting in 1969. While the plane was involved in a takeoff accident at Helsinki airport on November 7, 1969, it was repaired and put back into service. In December 1972, it was used for passenger service on the Oulu-Kuusamo route until the arrival of OH-KOA, a De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter. Following the Twin Otters' crash in 1973, OH-VKB was converted to fly mineral (ore) exploration flights, which was the original purpose of the Twin Otter.


The antenna of the mineral exploration equipment is installed in Kar-Air's hangar in July 1973.


Rollout of the DC-3 with the front, back and wing antennas installed. 


First engine run after the conversion on a hot summer day in July 1973. Zoggavia Collection


Last preparation for the maiden flight. 


Take-off roll started at temperatures exceeding 30 degr. C which is quite warm for a Finnish summer day.


Getting airborne.

Prior to takeoff, I asked the pilots to perform some maneuvers for me and my camera. To my surprise, the DC-3 suddenly emerged on the horizon, and the spectacle began...


OH-VKB between two Convair 440 Metropolitans of Finnair


Overshoot of OH-VKB, what a sight and sound


Second flyby with a left turn just passing over my position.


Happy landing after a the successful second maiden flight after thirty six years.


Taxiing back to Kar-Air's Hangar and time to celebrate. And time to continue my interrail trip with the hope that the camera and photographer did a good teamwork. The slides arrived weeks later after all.

Seen as a short term temporary solution the DC-3 continued the search for ore for ten years, but the ILS flights ceased in 1976. OH-VKB underwent its last overhaul in 1975 and flew the final exploration flight in October 1979.


OH-VKB resting between the exploration flights at Joensuu airport in July 1974.


Back to duty and the DC-3 trundles to the take-off position, just a few minuted before I took the Finnair schedule, OH-LSI  Se-210 Super Caravelle leased from Sterling, back to Helsinki.

In 1975 I had the opportunity to join the crew of the DC-3 and fly from Helsinki to Joensuu.


On the way to Joensuu somewhere over Central Finland.


Front office of OH-VKB Douglas DC-3, no glass cockpit...


OH-VKB Ready for the trip to Joensuu. Just a few images before taking off towards to the East, Helsinki airport in July 1975. 


OH-VKB after its last flight with TT: 35.474hrs, and prior to its cancellation from the register on August 15, 1988. The Finnish Aviation Museum acquired the aircraft on September 30th, 1982.

OH-VKB is on permanent display at the Finnish Aviation Museum at Helsinki Vantaa Airport.