September 1, 2007

The Tri-Motor came to town

I grew up on Middle Bass, Ohio, one of the islands in western Lake Erie. In the winter the Ford Tri-Motor was the means of transportation to the islands, carrying passengers and freight and making a daily mail run at 9:00 a. m.

Last weekend, the Tri-Motor came to Bowman Field in Louisville, and I went to see it, ride on it, and photograph it. Then I went back on Sunday to admire it some more.

This aircraft -- NC8407-- is based at Pioneer Airport, part of the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

According to the EAA's fact sheet, the plane "was manufactured on August 21, 1929, and was purchased by Pitcairn Airways, who started Eastern Air Transport (Eastern Airlines) with it and its sister ship NC8408. " Later, the plane was the first aircraft owned by Cuban Airlines; was Air Force One for the Dominican Republic, and, back in the United States, was used variously for crop dusting, smoke jumping, borate bombing, and scenes in a Jerry Lewis movie. In 1973, a tornado in Wisconsin lifted it off the ground; it broke into three pieces when it slammed back to earth. The EAA purchased it from an insurance company and spent 12 years restoring it.

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