Those who would like to take to the skies in a historic airplane can do just that this weekend at the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport.
The Experimental Aircraft Association will be offering rides in its 1928 Ford Tri-Motor 5-AT-B airplane from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sunday afternoon. Flights cost $72 for adults and $52 for youth ages 17 and younger if purchased in advance. Walk-up tickets are also available for $77.
EAA pilot Ed Kornfield said Thursday that the Ford Tri-Motor Tour, which makes stops throughout the country, serves as an outreach program to connect people with the history of aviation.
“We take pride in it and we want to share in that excitement,” he said.
Those that would rather keep their feet on the ground instead of opting for the 15-minute ride are still welcome to come by the airport at 1 Bullfrog Blvd., Owensboro, to get an up-close look at the plane.
Now known as “The City of Port Clinton,” the plane made its first flight on Dec. 1, 1928 and began flying westbound transcontinental air service for Trans Continental Air in July 1929. It is one of two Ford Tri-Motor airplanes currently flown by the EAA on its flight tours.
Janet Gregory, a pilot and EAA volunteer along with husband Ed Gregory, said those that go inside the airplane will notice something a little different than what they are used to seeing on a modern aircraft.
“This is Henry Ford’s airplane,” she said. “It does not have a stick for the pilot. It does not have a yoke for the pilot. It has two steering wheels and they are out of a Model A Ford.”
Powered by three Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines creating 420 horsepower each, the airplane has a cruising speed of 122 miles per hour and a maximum altitude ceiling of 18,500 ft. It also features a wingspan of 77.9 feet and an interior cabin lined with dark wood and window curtains reminiscent of a train car of the era. It cost $55,000 new from the factory.
Kornfield, who also flies historic military aircraft with the Commemorative Air Force, said the 1928 aircraft is a different animal than a modern airplane.
“It will do anything that you want it to do, it just kind of does it in its own time,” he said.
The Ford Tri-Motor is one of 199 made between 1926 and 1933, also requires a little more muscle to maneuver around, Kornfield said.
This particular plane has been owned by the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton, Ohio since 2014, and is leased to the EAA for the flight program.
Based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the EAA is made up of 240,000 members spread across 900 local chapters, with a goal of sharing the fun of building, restoring and flying aircraft.
For more information or to book a flight, visit www.eaa.org.
Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, email@example.com, 270-228-2837