The Last DC-7C in Airline Service

On 2023-11-22 we had a post here, “Wright Turbo-Compound Engine—Piston-Powered Wizardry”, about the aircraft engine that was the ultimate evolution of piston power for commercial aviation before the beginning of the jet age. One of the airliners that used this engine was the Douglas DC-7C, dubbed the “Seven Seas” by its manufacturer due to its ability to make nonstop flights between the east coast of the U.S. and western Europe in both east- and westbound directions.

The DC-7C was introduced in 1956 and a total of 121 were built, but due to the complexity, high maintenance cost, and unreliability of their finicky power plants, were mostly retired or converted to freighter service after the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 jet transports entered service.

This video, an expanded and updated version of a documentary first released on VHS tape in 1992, follows the last DC-7C in regular airline service on a flight from Miami, Florida in the U.S. to a series of destinations in the Caribbean and back to Miami, operated by Trans-Link Air, a freight carrier. The flight narrative illustrates the challenges of keeping such a vintage aircraft in service. Trans-Link retired this plane in 1995, whereupon it returned to darkest Africa, hauling shady cargoes from what is now called the “Democratic Republic of the Congo”.