|By Carmelo Turdo|
This particular Ford Trimotor, 4-AT-E serial number 146 of 199 built from 1926-1933, was first delivered to Eastern Air Transport in 1929. In 1930, it was leased to Cubana Airlines and was later used by the government of the Dominican Republic. After returning to the U.S., it was used for barnstorming, crop dusting, aerial firefighting and transporting smoke jumpers. After returning to the airshow scene in the 1960s and 1970s, it was nearly destroyed in a storm at the EAA's 1973 Fly-In. Never defeated, the aircraft was again destined to serve as an aviation time machine after a 12-year restoration by the EAA Aviation Foundation, and it proudly represents EAA AirVenture Museum around the nation.
Our Aero Experience was a 20-minute flight around the Mississippi River northeast of St. Louis, piloted by Mr. Ashley Messenger. With all eleven seats filled for the flight, the Trimotor lifted off the runway after a short roll and slowly climbed up to about 1500 feet for most of the flight. There was little perception of speed as the aircraft lumbered along over the communities near the great river. The low rumble of the three engines was a reassuring sensation - more felt than heard - as the old bird cruised along and then started her gentle turn back towards the runway and the end of our flight back in time. As the Trimotor came to a stop on the ramp, it seemed that everyone on board, from the senior citizens reliving their childhood memories to the children taking their first flight, was moved by this Aero Experience.
Here are some scenes from today's EAA Ford Trimotor flight, hosted by EAA Chapter 864 at St. Louis Regional Airport:
The Ford Trimotor Arrives
The Flight Briefing and Aircraft Boarding
Now it's your turn to experience a flight on the 1929 Ford Trimotor - go to St. Louis Regional Airport Tuesday or Wednesday this week!