Ford Tri-Motor plane on display at local airport
PARKERSBURG — An airplane significant in the history of commercial aviation will be on public display this week at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.
The Ford Tri-Motor also will be available for rides starting Thursday afternoon, said Josh Wilson, vice president of the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Nicknamed the Tin Goose, the Ford Tri-Motor ushered in commercial air transportation in the 1920s. The plane to be on display is leased from the Liberty Aviation Museum of Port Clinton, Ohio by the Experimental Aircraft Association for display around the country.
According to the association’s website, the 1928 Ford Tri-Motor 5-AT-B, serial No. 8, was first flown Dec. 1, 1928. It was sold to Transcontinental Air Transport, of which its logo remains on the plane’s fuselahe.
In January 1929, the plane, NC9645, was named the City of Wichita and was the first to fly transcontinental commercial air service on July 7, 1929, with another plane, the City of Columbus.
From 1931 to 1955, the plane changed hands several times, then was purchased in July 1964 by William F. Harrah of Harrah’s Hotel and Casinos in Nevada.
Harrah re-registered the plane NC9645. He began a seven-year renovation that returned the aircraft to flight status and restored the corrugated skin. Its first flight after the restoration was in 1971, flew several times in Reno, then put on display in Harrah’s car museum.
Parts of the Harrah car collection were auctioned, including the plane in June 1986 to Gary Norton of Athol, Idaho.
The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Ore., bought the plane in February 1990, which stored the plane until 1996 when another restoration began. It was again returned to flying condition.
The plane was acquired in 2014 by Ed Patrick and the Liberty Aviation Museum of Port Clinton, Ohio.
The local chapter of the association was formed this year and this week’s events are the first for the club, Wilson said.
The plane will be available for rides starting 2-5 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The plane arrived Monday and is hangared in the General Aviation Hangar at the airport, Wilson said.
Tickets purchased online are $70 for adults and $50 for children and are available at flytheford.org, according to Wilson. Walk-up tickets also will be available for a higher cost, he said.
A portion of the proceeds will be used for the maintenance of the association’s planes and its Young Eagles Program to encourage youth to become interested in aviation, Wilson said.
Other events included in the activities this week are a car show on Saturday by the Rolling Oldies car club, a pancake breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Fly Away Grill at the airport and a Fly-in from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Wilson said.
A DC-3 from Ohio University and a Cessna Skyhawk Trainer from Fairmont State University will be among participants in the fly-in to highlight the colleges’ aviation programs, he said.