The relationship between this DC3, affectionately known as "Betsy" and Cathay Pacific Airways started as early as 1945. Originally planned as a civil DC3/360, the aircraft was taken over by the military before construction was completed and designated a C47. It was delivered to the United States Army Air Corps on June 4 1942 and in August 1943 was deployed overseas with the U.S. military but so far no details are known as to which theatre of war it served. In the latter half of 1945, when it was returned to the USA for
disposal, the aircraft was purchased by a demobilised WWII pilot Roy Farrell who wanted to return to the Orient he had grown fond of during the war.
After the first flight from Georgia to the Far East via Miami, the Atlantic, the Middle East, Calcutta and China, the following months were spent flying woollen goods from Sydney to Shanghai, going back with whatever cargo or passengers that could be picked up en-route.
The aircraft was formally registered as VR-HDB in Hong Kong on 24th September 1946 at the same time the name of Cathay Pacific Airways Limited was registered. Thus VR-HDB which happened to be in Sydney on this date performed Cathay's first official flight from Sydney to Hong Kong. Other aircraft were gradually added to the fleet but VR-HDB continued in service with Cathay for the next seven years on the growing airline's passenger charters, and eventually scheduled service throughout South East Asia.
In August 1953 VR-HDB was sold to Mandated Airlines in Lae, New Guinea. This sale was negotiated by the Chairman of the day, Duncan Bluck who recalled that the price was "very satisfactory" for Cathay Pacific.
In January 1961 Mandated was taken over by the Australian domestic carrier Ansett Airlines and became Ansett/M.A.L. A further name change took place in mid 1968 when the airline was renamed Ansett Airlines of Papua, New Guinea and VR-HDB, now registered as VH-MAL remained part of the fleet.
In September 1973 with the demise of this airline in sight due to the Territory gaining independence, "Betsy" was sold to Air Queensland, then named Bush Pilots Airways of Cairns, and was a permanent and valuable part of their fleet until her retirement in 1983.