Roasterie Coffee production plant gets a vintage DC-3

The Roasterie Coffee production plant just north of Midtown has been getting a makeover – including a vintage DC-3 airplane that was lifted onto its roof today. The plane flew in the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and Florida used it recently to spray mosquitoes.

Posted by Joe Lambe

It seemed like a good idea for the Roasterie coffee company to buy some old aircraft parts – instruments and such – because a plane is part of its logo.

But one thing led to another.

Early this morning, cranes mounted an entire DC-3 on the roof of the company’s expanding production plant at 1204 W. 27th St. in Kansas City.

Company founder Danny O’Neill watched nervously while 10,200 pounds of aircraft dangled above renovation work.

As it appeared above the roofline, he said, “Look at that – how cool is that.”

As it swung over a building, he yelled, “Now if they don’t clip one of the air conditioners we put up there; tell them not to hit a solar panel.”

 But the plane, a company symbol of travel, adventure and air-roasted coffee beans, is now on its steel perch.  It will be part of the enlarged production operation together with the company’s third area coffee shop when they open this fall.

The product is also sold at Midtown grocery stores and O’Neill said he does not know if increased production will lead to more coffee shops as well.

Bob Dodson, founder the Dodson Aviation Company in Ottawa, Kansas, said he got five of the planes from Florida about a year ago, including the DC-3 that now tops the coffee production facility.

O’Neill “came down just to buy instruments and so forth and it led to this,” he said.

O’Neill said it was a lifelong dream to buy a plane but he told Dobson he could not afford it.

“He said he could make it happen,” O’Neill said, “and by God, he did.”

Among those at the ceremony were several old warriors who flew DC-3s or crewed on them during World War II.

Leonard Rose, 89, of Overland Park, said he was 19 when he was on a DC-3 crew that flew over the Himalayan mountains to carry supplies to the Chinese Army.

An engine went out of his plane when they were carrying a load of gasoline but the plane held together and they landed safely on a rough runway, he said.

“By golly we made it, no parachutes, no nothing, but we made it,” he said, and he and many like him are still attached to the hearty DC-3s.

Many of them still fly all over the world, O’Neill said, and some in remote countries even haul coffee beans.