Did you hear the one about Tom, Dick, and Harry flying a Stratofreighter into southern Wisconsin? Sounds like the set up to a joke, but it’s real.

Donald J. Quinn was a pilot who bought a farm in Dodgeville in 1964, and built a 3,000-foot-long landing strip so he could fly his jet DC9 into his back yard. Four years later he had transformed the runway into Dodgeville’s municipal airport, and the old dairy barn into Dodgeville’s quirkiest restaurant.

He wanted the Inn to have something eye-catching out by the highway. So in 1977 he bought a huge Korean War vintage C-97 Stratofreighter, had it flown into Dodgeville’s tiny airport, and parked it in front of his motel.

The C-97 took on a lot of oil to run all of its 112 pistons. It had a 53 gallon oil tank and used two gallons of oil an hour. But by the time they came in to land, the low oil light came on.

One of only a couple dozen surviving, of 56 made, C-97 Stratofreighters, this plane was flown into  Wisconsin by pilot Dick Schmidt, copilot Tom Thomas, and flight engineer Harold Waligorski. It was towed to the Don Q Inn, to open it as a coffee shop, and it now sits in a field.

The plan was to buy other smaller aircraft and turn them into rooms for adventurous hotel guests, but today the C-97 stands alone because after buying the plane, he had a end of fortune, and his plans to
mount the giant airplane on stilts above the Don Q Inn parking lot fly in more planes and use them as motel rooms came to a stop, and 2 years later he sold the whole enterprise. 9 years later he was dead.

He said he would set one plane aside so that he could start a school for aircraft mechanics.

Since then it was used for filming a commercial in 1975 with Farrah Fawcett, she autographed the fuselage

The C-97 was based on the B-29 bomber and used during the Berlin Airlift and Korea War. With a wingspan of 141 feet and four 3,500-horsepower engines, the C-97 was once the largest thing in the skies.

The Inn was built in many strange ways, probably to generate word of mouth free advertising, and get some free publicity from tv shows, the main lobby has a fireplace made from the front of a steam locomotive, surrounded by barbers chairs, for example