GREENCASTLE -- The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), in conjunction with EAA Chapter 1374, recently announced that its 1929 Ford Tri-Motor will be paying a visit to the Putnam County Airport (417) in Greencastle.
The visit will be during a four-day period, Sept. 13-16.
It was 73 years ago that a Ford Tri-Motor first paid a visit to Putnam County. The upcoming visit will mark the first time a Ford Tri-Motor has landed in the county since the late 1930s.
Henry Ford mobilized millions of Americans and created a new market with his Model T "Tin Lizzie," automobile from 1909-26. After World War I, he recognized the potential for mass air transportation.
Ford's Tri-Motor aircraft, nicknamed "The Tin Goose," 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 1999 Tri-Motors from 1926 through 1933. EAA's model 4-AT-E was number 146 off Ford's 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 on EAA's Tri-Motor. This is why the Ford resides in the Pitcairn hangar at Pioneer Airport Eastern Air Transport, which later became Eastern Airlines.
"We are really excited to have been chosen to host such a significant part of aviation history,' President of the local EAA Chapter Duane Skoog said. "The Ford Tri-Motor birthed commercial aviation. The first scheduled passenger and cargo flights were in Tri-Motors. TWA, Eastern, Pan Am, Northwest and American all had the Ford Tri-Motor in the beginning.
"The Putnam County Airport is honored to have been chosen to host the 'First American Airliner.'"
The Ford Tri-Motor will be in residence at the Putnam County Airport, located at the end of Ballard Lane directly off State Road 240. Flights on Thursday, Sept. 13, will begin at 2 p.m., and continue until 5 p.m. Flights on Friday, Sept. 14, through Sunday, Sept. 16, will begin at 9 a.m., and continue throughout the day until 5 p.m. All flights are dependent on the weather. If it is heavily overcast or raining, the Tri-Motor will not fly.
Those persons interested in scheduling a flight ahead of time should contact the EAA at http://www.flytheford.org, or call 1-877-952-5395. Cost is $80 for adults, and $40 for students ages 6-17. Children 5-under fly free when flying on the same flight as their parents or legal guardians.
Cost to sit in the co-pilot's chair is $125.
Tickets may be purchased at the Putnam County Airport (417) the day of a flight. However, tickets are on a first-come, first-serve basis.