EAA 1929 Ford Tri Motor Tour
With blue skies, and warm spring time air, one woke up with a simple thought in mind… It’s time to “Fly The Ford”, and so did EAA Chapter 180 on March 26th, through March 28th 2012.
We Flew The Ford! And Loved It!
EAA AirVenture Museum restored this beautiful 1929 Ford Tri-Motor which tours around the country as part of the AirVenutre Experience. The Ford Tri Motor Tour came to KSRQ Sarasota, Florida and was an excellent event attracting people of all ages, enthusiasts and those who wanted to relive the moments of yesturyear.
EAA Chapter 180, with help from its many volunteers were excited and grateful to have brought this once in a lifetime opportunity to Sarasota. Pilot Cody Welch and his wife Jackie Welch volunteer their time to bring the 1929 Ford Tri-Motor to various cities across the country on the EAA Ford Tri Motor Tour.
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. It was sold to Pitcairn Aviation’s passenger division, Eastern Air Transport, whose paint scheme is replicated on EAA’s Tri-Motor. 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 Trimotor 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 fire fighting. Then in 1958, it was further modified for use by smoke jumpers.
After working for a variety of crop spraying businesses, our 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, twelve-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 debut was at the 1985 EAA convention in Oshkosh. It was displayed in the AirVenture Museum until 1991 when it returned to its former role of delighting passengers. Ford Tri-Motor NC8407 is the flagship of EAA’s Pioneer Airport, a part of the AirVenture Museum experience.