Experience the golden age of aviation and take a flight in Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA) immaculate 1929 Ford Tri-Motor, giving passengers an opportunity to travel back to the early days of luxurious commercial flight.
Affectionately dubbed the “Tin Goose” after its distinct all-metal look, the Ford Tri-Motor is commonly known as the first mass-produced airliner from aviation’s formative years. Hosted by the Ada, Oklahoma EAA group, chapter 1005, flights on the Tri-Motor are Sept. 29 and 30 and Oct. 30 at Ada Municipal Airport.
Flight rates are $70 for adults in advance, $75 for adults walk-ups, and $50 for children 17 and under. Call 419-732-0234 for booking availability and information. Revenues from the Ford Tri-Motor tour help cover maintenance and operations costs for the aircraft and aid our ambition to keep the “Tin Goose” flying for many years to come.
Henry Ford mobilized millions of Americans and created a new market with his Model T “Tin Lizzie” automobile from 1909 to 1926. After World War I, he recognized the potential for mass air transportation. Ford’s Tri-Motor aircraft was designed to build another new market, airline travel. To overcome concerns of engine reliability, Ford specified three engines and added features for passenger comfort, such as an enclosed cabin. The first three Tri-Motors built seated the pilot in an open cockpit, as many pilots doubted a plane could be flown without direct “feel of the wind”.
Ford Motor Company built 199 Tri-Motors from 1926 through 1933. EAA’s model 4-AT-E was number 146 off Ford’s innovative assembly line and first flew on August 21, 1929.
In 1930, NC8407 was leased to Cubana Airlines, where it inaugurated air service between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. The airplane was later flown by the government of the Dominican Republic.
EAA’s Ford Tri-Motor returned to the U.S. in 1949 for barnstorming use. In 1950, it was moved from Miami, Florida, to Phoenix, Arizona, and was refitted with more powerful engines for use as a crop duster. With two 450 HP engines and one 550 HP engine, it became the most powerful Model 4-AT ever flown. In 1955 it was moved to Idaho and fitted with two 275 gallon tanks and bomb doors for use as a borate bomber in aerial firefighting. Then in 1958, it was further modified for use by smoke jumpers.
After working for a variety of crop spraying businesses, EAA’s Tri-Motor moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1964, where its new owner flew barnstorming tours. During this period it had a variety of roles, including serving as the primary setting for the Jerry Lewis comedy, “The Family Jewels.” In 1973, the aircraft was still being used for air show rides, including the EAA’s Fly-In at Burlington, Wisconsin. While at the 1973 EAA Fly-In, a severe thunderstorm ripped the plane from its tie-downs, lifted it 50 feet into the air and smashed it to the ground on its back. EAA subsequently purchased the wreckage for its Aviation Foundation.
After an arduous, 12-year restoration process by EAA staff, volunteers, and with assistance from Ford Tri-Motor operators nationwide, the old Tri-Motor once again took to the air. Its official re-debut was at the 1985 EAA Fly-In Convention in Oshkosh. It was displayed in the AirVenture Museum until 1991 when it returned to its former role of delighting passengers through flights.