Ada's Wintersmith Park is visible in this image made from a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor Monday as part of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Fly the Ford event slated for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at Ada Municipal Airport. More information about the event is available at

Richard R. Barron

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Most people know Henry Ford manufactured transportation for the masses. What most may not know is that Ford also foresaw the interest people would have in crossing the country at the (then) unthinkable speed of 95-miles per hour aloft. He was a visionary and built and placed 199 planes in service quickly.

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. It was designed to create another new market, airline travel. To overcome concern for engine reliability, Ford specified three engines and added features for passenger comfort, such as an enclosed cabin.

Area residents can enjoy the roar of the three Pratt & Whitney R985 engines and place themselves in aviation’s golden age as the Tri-Motor skims across the skies of Ada through Wednesday on its tour across the country. This nostalgic event is brought to the Ada area by Ada Ford, the local Sport Aviation pilots group, and members of the national EAA group headquartered in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Charles Lindberg crossed the Atlantic, became America’s hero, and toured the world as a superstar just two years before this airplane was built. EAA’s model 4-AT-E was the 146th off Ford’s innovative assembly line and first flew Aug. 21, 1929. It was sold to Pitcairn Aviation’s passenger division, Eastern Air Transport, whose paint scheme is replicated EAA’s Tri-Motor. Following an extensive 12-year restoration this airplane was re-debuted at the 1985 EAA Fly-In Convention in Oshkosh. It was displayed in the EAA AirVenture Museum until 1991 when it returned to its former role of delighting passengers on its annual tour across the U.S.

“We have had a local Ford dealer here in Ada for 100 years,” said Don Childers, local pilot and aviation enthusiast. “I encourage residents to enjoy the wicker seats and a window with curtain for each passenger, and ask everyone to bring a camera. Watching is free.”

Rides are approximately 30 minutes and will take place today during daylight hours and Wednesday until 11 a.m. at Ada Municipal Airport.