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

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Midwest Aviation Event: EAA Ford Trimotor Makes Stop in Rolla, MO

By Fred Harl
The EAA's 1929 Ford Trimotor made a stop in Rolla, MO the last weekend in June as part of the scheduled pre-EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 tour. Hosted by EAA Chapter 1616 at Rolla National Airport in nearby Vichy, MO, the four day event provided an opportunity for visitors to tour the aircraft and fly over central Missouri in the standard airliner of the Golden Age of Aviation. Though modernized to current safety standards and passenger comfort, the Trimotor retains its basic 1920s-era construction, powerplants and flight performance. 

According to the EAA, this 4-AT-E Trimotor aircraft was number 146 of 199 total produced and first flew in August of 1929. It served with Eastern Air Transport (later Eastern Airlines), the government of the Dominican Republic, as a cropduster, a firefighting tanker, a barnstormer and even a moviestar. It was acquired by the EAA in 1973 and underwent a lengthy restoration. The Trimotor has been touring since 1991, and continues to provide an unforgettable nostalgic flight experience across the U.S. and each year at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

Pilot John Hartke flew planeloads of passengers in the cabin and several who purchased the upgraded "copilot" seat for their flights. Here are some views of Hartke as he refueled the aircraft and one flight sequence:

The EAA's Ford Trimotor continues it's 2019 tour, and you can see the schedule and book flights through their web page. Take an inside tour and watch a video of a previous flight featured in this story: "Aviation History Comes Alive As EAA Ford Trimotor Returns to St. Louis Area."

Rolla National Airport began as a U.S. Army Air Forces pilot training field and was revived as a civil airport in the late 1950s. Lee Maples, World War II veteran aviator and local aviation legend, became the first airport manager there for the City of Rolla in 1958 and served until 1967. He then started Maples Aviation and later Baron Aviation, which still provides feeder services for FedEx.

During our visit, we also saw some general aviation aircraft on the apron, including a Hughes 369D helicopter, 2 experimental Long-EZs, early Cessna 150 and 172 models and others featured here:

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