Take a ride in a fully restored 1928 Ford Tri-Motor airplane
A significant piece of aviation history has landed in the Mahoning Valley. It's a 1928 Ford Tri-Motor, completely restored and available for flights.
Affectionately known as the "Tin Goose", the 1928 Ford Tri-Motor was, at the time, a top of the line commercial airliner. It was used for coast-to-coast service by Transcontinental Air Transport, which later became known as TWA airlines.
"During the day, the airplanes would fly and at night, passengers would get on a train to another airport so it would go from like New York to Columbus and this would start out in like Columbus and take it to like Kansas City or Wichita," Paul Koziol, a ground training coordinator for the Ford Tri-Motor said. "This one was named the City of Wichita because like the Navy would name their ships after different cities in the United States, that was kind of the tradition that was started in the 1930's when this airline started business."
"This really made the airlines profitable," Dave Ross, a Ford Tri-Motor pilot said. "It wasn't fast but it was state-of-the-art there in the late 20's and early 30's until Douglas and Boeing's started building the faster airplanes."
Over the years, it's also been used by the military, forest service and for mail delivery.
"This is a piece of history, it's not an overstatement to say that," said Colonel Jeff Van Dootingh, Commander of the 910th Airlift Wing.
On Friday, you can see and ride in this piece of history at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
"The Liberty Air Museum out of Port Clinton bought it from Harrah's Museum Collection and brought it back into airworthy shape and it's leased to the Experimental Aircraft Association where we do all the pilot and ground training and then we tour it around the country and share its historical values with people like here in Youngstown, it's a great hit," Koziol said.
From the moment you step in the Ford Tri-Motor, you feel like you're in the 1930's.
"It's like a ride back in time," Koziol said. "I mean you saw the interior, the interior is decked out, beautiful woodwork, beautiful lamps. It's got air vents and could you imagine yourself back in the 1930's taking a ride to California in something like this."
Every seat is next to an extra large window, so the views are breathtaking.
"There's no bad seat," Ross said. "If you want to see what's going on in the cockpit, you sit farther forward but if you just want a nice view outside, sit toward the back."
Seating is comfortable and fortunately updated.
"The first Tri-Motor's actually had wicker seats, so that wouldn't work now-a-days haha," Ross said.
The aircraft has provided so many memories for people in the Mahoning Valley including the commander of the 910th Airlift Wing at the Air Reserve Station in Vienna. Colonel Jeff Van Dootingh's experience on the Ford Tri-Motor ended up shaping the rest of his career.
"The year is 1976, I'm a 12-year-old boy scout and our scoutmaster wanted to do an encampment at South Pass Island," Col. Van Dootingh said. "He wasn't big into boats so he decided to fly the scout troop over to the island on Island Airlines out of Port Clinton on the Ford Tri-Motor and so I remember sitting down on the left side right next to the main landing gear as we're rolling down the runway that wheel is going faster and faster and we take off and it's spinning but it's slowing down and slowing down and finally stops and my attention goes from the wheel to the ground and we're climbing out, the houses and cars are getting smaller and I knew right there and then that is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."
Thursday, Colonel Van Dootingh was back where it all started, flying in a Ford Tri-Motor for the first time in 46 years.
"It's really neat to go back and pinpoint how it all started," he said. "I got the bug and I've had it ever since. Most likely next year I will be retired after 38 years and I know they fly out of Liberty Air Museum in Port Clinton, Ohio and most likely you will see me there as a volunteer."
The "Tin Goose" letting some re-live old memories, while allowing others to make new ones.
"Maybe today we can help mentor the next generation into careers in aviation and to becoming a pilot and to becoming an air traffic controller and doing something for the national air space system, it's pretty important," Koziol said.
Flights run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at the main terminal of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. Tickets are $85 for adults and $55 for kids. The flight will last from 20 to 30 minutes. Money goes to the maintenance of the aircraft. They are only taking walk-ups, no appointment needed. They do ask you get there no later than 4 p.m. For $200, you can ride in the cockpit if it's open. If you just want to look at the aircraft, they say that is fine as well and there is no charge.
After this, the Ford Tri-Motor heads to Lorain County.