SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — “I got to sit in the Ford Tri-Motor, and I even got to fly it, too.”
There is no experience quite like feeling the 1,200 horse power through the steering wheel of a Ford Model A a few thousand feet in the air. Back in 1928, there was no experience quite like the first luxury airliner either.
“The airplane is an antique in every sense of the word in the way its systems are and the way it handles and feels its capabilities,” Ashley Messenger said.
Henry Ford not only democratized the automobile, he did it to aviation too with the Ford Tri-Motor. Most planes at the time still relied heavily on wood, but new metal technology meant Ford’s planes used wood on only the interior trim. It had three engines in case one failed, each putting out over 400 supercharged horsepower.
This particular plane was sold initially to Transcontinental Air Transport at the end of 1928 and would later help develop TWA’s route system that we still use today.
“I think the best part of flying this airplane is the absolute kick people get getting on and off it and flying it,” Messenger said. “And everyone just comes off with this wide grin.”
The most remarkable thing about the Tri-Motor is how solid and smooth it feels for something over 90 years old.
“I think it looks neat for the year and everything,” Raymond Rosenbeck said. “It’s a neat airplane, I’d go again! It looks like an older plane, but it sure was a nice ride. The ride was good and smooth.”
The crew keeps everything in tip top shape, but it mainly comes down to design. Everything was over engineered with safety in mind.
She’s a loud plane since it isn’t pressurized, but the sound is comforting as you float through the turbulence of a hot afternoon. There isn’t air conditioning, but with an experience like this, you don’t even notice.