Veterans Air DC-3 pilot John Schaus

A three-part story told totally out of order:  Three … One … Two.

Part Three: Veterans Air DC-3 pilot John Schaus flies Gooney Bird once again!

So…once upon a time, as he’s viewing the Reading Air Show in Pennsylvania, John Schaus can’t believe his ears.  Did the show announcer really just ask that question out loud?

“Do any of you guys out there have C-47 time?  We need a C-47 pilot to ride shotgun with the Captain for a fly-by.”

Seems the expected co-pilot unexpectedly has not shown up.  And, without him, the fly-by will be cancelled.

Never one to be shy about his love for the C-47 and his many, many flight hours commanding one, John steps up to the announcer.

“Hey! I’ve flown this airplane a lot!” John waves at him gleefully.

The delighted announcer introduces John to the Captain and they scramble into the Gooney Bird.

Here’s the punch line:  That was only 11 years ago when John was 80 years old!

But wait…there’s more!

The Captain begins to brief John, but in no time he gets it.  This “elderly” gentleman sitting beside him is all too familiar with this aircraft.  Totally comfortable.  And has logged many more hours and left-seat time in the C-47 than the Captain himself.  They chat.

“John, you want to take her up?

“No, but I’ll take her at 500′.”

Once airborne, John – the now newly appointed PIC (Pilot in Command) – in fact flies the entire demo.  Several sweeps overhead the air show attendees, the approach – and the landing.

“Wouldn’t break any eggs!” compliments the accompanying airman.  “If I’d of landed, we’d of bounced all over the place,” is how John recalls his “check pilot’s” appraisal.

Early photo of Veterans Air DC-3 pilot John Schaus, in Army Air Corps uniform. Photo from his WWII scrapbook.
John Schaus joined the Army Air Corps at 19 years old, By age 20, he flew B-25’s. And in 1946 he piloted his first DC-3 at Veterans Air Express. Photo Credit: John’s World War II photo album.

So…who is this now-nonagenarian John Schaus, DC-3 “driver?” And where have I been hiding him? 

Well, I’m more than slightly “behind the power curve” on sharing my discoveries with you. But when John called me last Saturday from New Jersey to chat  and told me about this adventure, I headed for the keyboard.  Actually, he almost forgot to tell me!  Just as we were hanging up, he casually said, “Oh, by the way.  I remember when I last flew a DC-3.  It was only about 10 years ago.”  Really???  I was all ears!

Soooo, that’s Part Three.  Now for the “beginning” and “middle” of John’s story with Veterans Air.  Just call me wrong-way Corrigan!  Watch this space…coming VERY soon:

  • Part One: John Schaus Veterans Air DC-3 Lobster Pilot.
  • Part Two: Face-to-Face in New Jersey with John Schaus Veterans Air 1946 U.S. cargo pilot.

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