Oldest Aircraft to Circle the World: The Breitling DC-3

Breitling DC-3
The Breitling DC-3

Completing its circumnavigation of the globe, yesterday Breitling’s DC-3 reached its finish point: the Breitling Sion Airshow in Switzerland. Making it the oldest aeroplane to complete, or even undertake, a round-the-world trip.

Breitling DC-3 World Tour Press Conference Geneva
Jean-Paul Girardin, Vice-President of Breitling (left) and Francisco Agullo, pilot (right) at Breitling DC-3 World Tour Press Conference Geneva on March 9th 2017

Christened the “Breitling DC-3 World Tour”, the endeavour saw pilot Francisco Agullo fly 24,500 nautical miles around the earth’s latitude over seven months in a 1940 Douglas DC-3. Travelling through Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America (to name a few) the plane stopped off in numerous countries during its tour. Several of the stops saw events held in the DC-3’s honour and its participation in air shows – as well as essential servicing and maintenance of the 77 year-old aircraft.

C-47s
C-47s (the military designation of the DC-3) during the Berlin Airlift
C-47s
Two C-47s (military designation of the DC-3) during the Second World War

As the moniker suggests, Breitling severed as sponsor for the Tour. It has also produced the 500-piece limited edition Navitimer Breitling DC-3 watch in celebration of the airplane and its remarkable trip. The 500 watches were actually stored on-board the DC-3 and accompanied it during the entire seven month Tour. Breitling’s connection to this particular DC-3 dates back to 2008, when pilot Agullo bought the plane in question and set about restoring it with Breiting’s help and support.

Navitimer Breitling DC-3 Limited Edition
Breitling DC-3