Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Monday, June 10, 2013

Aviation History Comes Alive As EAA Ford Trimotor Returns to St. Louis Area

By Carmelo Turdo
Midwest Aviation in St. Louis has experienced examples of more than 80 years of aeronautical progress in the last few days with the arrival of two very significant aircraft - The Solar Impulse, using state-of-the-art solar-powered motors, and the EAA's 1929 Ford Trimotor, the stalwart airliner that still had to share the transportation duties of the day with passenger trains.  The great thing about today's arrival of the Ford Trimotor is that in the next few days you also can experience a flight at St. Louis Regional Airport in nearby Bethalto, IL.  The Aero Experience was privileged to fly in the old bird today on the first tour flight following her arrival, one day before the 87th anniversary of the first flight of a Ford Trimotor in 1926.  We encourage everyone else in the St. Louis area to do the same Tuesday or Wednesday before the Trimotor departs for Quincy, IL.

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

The Flight

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!

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