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DJ-3A Airport Baggage Handler

• CATEGORIES: DJ-3A, Features, Fire/Police/Industry Vehicles

A reader named Randy used to drive this very jeep. He shares his experience below. Note that the DJ-3A fuel inlet was moved to the side to accommodate the ramp.


These pictures were taken in the spring of 1970 and I am no doubt somewhere on the BOAC VC-10. Or I maybe flying the “bucket truck” in the back of the plane cleaning the lavatories


Randy writes, “After high school I got a job with a company that serviced airlines that didn’t have dedicated ground crews. These airlines had only one or two flights a day at our airport. This employer hired and trained people to service the airplanes just like a fulltime ground crew would. Every “ramp rat” was going to be something else after college except for me. I would learn to fly with the meager pay and get employed using friendships and connections made there.

“Anyway, Butler Aviation had a Jeep Baggage Loader and I would drive it on any mission that came up. Summer and winter or rain or snow, I volunteered to position the belt loader and loved each time I drove it. It wasn’t uncommon to reposition that Jeep from one side of the airport to the other. Four or five miles at a time.

“It was a 4 cylinder, 2-wheel drive, three on the tree with the giant loader and hydraulics attached above the center of gravity. The endless belt loader was fixed in the back and raised and lowered in the front. Had a huge rubber bumper on the front of the belt to prevent damage to the airplanes. It only went about 30 mph but, combined with the unstable loader, it could get scary. We use to fill it up with ramp rats and drive across the airport in the summer and get a nice breeze. But in the winter, I was all by myself.”


14 Comments on “DJ-3A Airport Baggage Handler

  1. rocnroll

    I bought my first reproduction Jeep body from a place in New Boston, TX called Red River Equipment and Jeep Parts……would have been around 1990 or so. Drove out to pick up the body myself instead of having it shipped.

    At that time they had a handful of these little rigs out in their junkyard. I crawled all over these things wondering what somebody would ever do with one.

    Looking back on it one might have made an interesting (although fairly odd) restoration project.

    Might have been just the thing to load that second floor loft with Jeep parts !

  2. Randy

    I see them in old movies a lot. Airport scenes in ‘Airport 1975’, ‘The High and the Mighty’. And several more.

  3. rocnroll

    Yeah, but the ‘between the lines’ was that those I mentioned may still be able to be found for someone that was interested and had a bit of detective skills.

  4. rocnroll

    IIn my mind I sort of see a nicely restored one being used to put hay up in the loft of an old barn that has a tractor shed with an old Empire tractor and out back there is like maybe an old ‘survivor’ column shift with a post hole digger and three point hitch……..ahhhhhhhhh, now where’s my beer.

  5. Randy

    Rick, the airplane is a (Vickers) VC- 10 in BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corp) livery.

    Roc, I have driven by the old place many times and cannot find any trace of this Jeep. If I do….

  6. Charles

    First of all i owe Dave a steel plate he loaned me for a pattern and a hubcap to replace the one he lost for loaning thar to me. Now that I’m reminded of it I’ll get it in the mail next week. As I remember he needs a used but in great shape stainless steel one for his 56 to replace the one that he lost.

    I’v got a pretty big assortment of small W hubcaps. Mixed, some stainless, some chrome over steel. Started buying then up either four or one at a time before I knew exactly what was what.
    The stainless and the chrome over steel are the exact same size but the edges of the w on the chrome over steel are chrisper and sharper points on the w when compared to the stainless ones that I have. Maybe the steel held its shape better when punched is the only thing I can think of to explain this.

    I have asked over the years a lot of people if their small dj3a hubcaps were stainless or chrome over steel and the answer was always stainless. Didn’t matter which year and can’t qualify for absolute proof but it seems that the chrome over steel was only used on the aero’s. Stainless on the dj3a’s. Maybe by dj3a’s they figured out that stainless was cheaper than chromed steel but any further information surely welcome.

    That being said out of all of my hubcaps, even including 7 larger and in great shape Surrey hubcaps, my pride and joy is a NOS set of 4 small w hubcaps that have never been on a wheel. Chrome over steel bright and shiny as the day they were born. Stole them off of eBay where they were advertised as Willy’s AERO hubcaps. May not be exactly dj3a correct because of the shiny chrome but are for sure are going on my 1956 dj3a convertible restoration. I’m going to have to really do some shining up to get one of my other extra hubcaps in good enough shape for a spare tire to even come close to match them.

  7. Charles

    Might should have mentioned that any other style Willy’s small hubcap that isn’t the standard plain ‘W’ Willy’s Aero or DJ3a hubcap…..including all current reproductions will NOT fit either the willys aero or dj3a 15” runs. All of the other Willy’s hubcaps including the repro’s curently being made are a different (larger) diameter and won’t snap onto the rim.

  8. Charles

    Also thinking I should mention that Dave’s right in that some aero hubcaps are different from dj3a hubcaps. Even though they are somewhat similar looking there is quite a difference in the larger full size Willy’s Aero hubcaps and the full size Willy’s Surrey hubcaps. The full size Aero hubcaps….that I have seen….are plainer and don’t have the recessed circles that are paint color matched to the body colors on a Surrey…..either pink or blue or green.

    I’ll shut up now!!!

  9. David Eilers Post author


    Much appreciated. I went through some old emails, but I couldn’t find all the information we’d discussed. The stainless only for DJ-3As observation is interesting. I think that’s a good working theory. I’ll make sure to ask DJ-3A folks about their hubcaps whenever I can.

    – Dave

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