"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A flight for the senses and the smoothest landing-1

She's beautiful. Flying in the 1928 Ford Tri-Motor Sunday was a sensual experience in history and living in the moment. 
This specific plane, NC9645, inaugurated coast-to-coast air/rail travel in 1929. 
The narrow cabin seats 11 passengers in rudimentary chairs and everyone gets a window seat. There's no lock on the pilots' "cabin," no door. You can watch them fly the plane. no security checkpoint to go through. There are curtains for the windows and lamps.
In spite of the noise of the three radial engines, the view is great because of the high wing. The landing was the smoothest ever--you don't even know you've touched the ground thanks to the large tires and shock absorbers. 
Flying was fun, in contrast to the hassle and stress of modern day airports and air travel in "comfortable" jets packed with hundreds of passengers.  We haven't progressed.
Before boarding, those of us who paid $75 for the experience, waiting for the ceiling to lift to about 1500 feet over Sundance Airport, the pilot ran through basic rules: no smoking, stay seated. Three hatches. Location of fire extinguisher. Watch your head--the metal girders on the roof are hard. In case of water landing (we're flying over Lake Hefner) there's an inflatable cushion under your seat.
It's on loan to the EAA Aviation Foundation from the Liberty Aviation Museum of Port Clinton, Ohio, along with one other sister plane. They tour the country offering rides.  Here's the link the the web page: FlyTheFord
Basic facts
  • Cruising  speed is 122 miles per hour. It's 50 feet, 3 inches long with a wingspan of 77 feet.
  • Ceiling is 18,500 feet. Range is 560 miles. 
  • This plane was delivered to Transcontinental Air Transport Jan. 18, 1929 and named the City of Wichita. First all air passenger service in the country was in 1930.
  • In 1935 it flew passengers over the Grand Canyon; in 1937, over Boulder Dam.

  • In late 1937, it was sold and flew in Central America; in 1946 in Mexico.
  • In 1951, the original corrugated skin was replaced with sheet metal.
  • In 1954, it was damaged, sold to Americans who put it in storage in Idaho.
  • In 1964, new owner William F. Harrah of Harrah's Club, bought it and restored it including the corrugated skin. He put it in his auto collection.

  • In 1975 TWA flew it from Reno to Newark to commemorate its first all air service in 1930
  • In 1986 it sold for $1.5 million.
  • In 1990, it was sold again  and used for parachute jumping in 1998.
  • In 2013, the Port Clinton museum bought it. 

1 comment:

  1. Dang $75 is a bargain!!!! Jealous. I have always thought the Tori-motors are beautiful aircraft.


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