The Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton, Ohio has acquired a flyable model 5-AT-B Ford Tri-Motor, historically known as the “City of Wichita”, Serial #5-AT-8, Registration #N9645, from the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum located in McMinnville, Oregon.
“The acquisition of this aircraft fulfills one of our long range plans for the Liberty Aviation Museum, to have two Ford Tri-Motors at the museum,” said Ed Patrick, CEO of the Museum. “Our ultimate goal is to always have one of the Fords permanently based at Port Clinton, while the second aircraft is on tour throughout the country.”
The new aircraft will be home-based in Port Clinton, though the Museum’s intent is to lease the aircraft to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) so that it can tour the United States. “In this way thousands of people nationwide can be given the rare opportunity to get a ride in a very unique, rare and historically significant aircraft. While on tour nationwide the aircraft will also serve as a goodwill ambassador for the Liberty Aviation Museum and for Port Clinton,” said Patrick.
This Tri-Motor will also enhance and support the efforts of the Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation in completing the restoration of Island Airlines Ford Tri-Motor Model 5-AT-40, Serial #13, Registration #N9667. Members of Port Clinton’s EAA Chapter #1247, who have been working on restoring #N9667 for the past 10 years, and who estimate they have a few more years of work before it can fly, are equally excited about having an operational Tri-Motor as an inspiration. “The arrival of this aircraft is an important step towards the goal of making Port Clinton synonymous with the history of the Ford Tri-Motors,” states Jody Brausch, President of the Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation.
This aircraft comes back to Ohio where it made aviation history. The first transcontinental air and rail service began in Columbus, Ohio, on July 8, 1929. Famed aviator Amelia Earhart and twenty others boarded two state-of-the-art Ford Tri-Motors and began the first leg of the cross country air journey that ended in Glendale, California. The Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT, that later become TWA) made coast to coast travel in 48 hours possible. “The significance of this aircraft to commercial aviation and airline history is no different than that of the Memphis Bell to B-17s, or the Enola Gay to B-29s from WWII,” points out Jeff Sondles, Operations Director of the Liberty Aviation Museum.
The City of Wichita has checked out all its test flights, and this holiday weekend is winging its way to Port Clinton. “This coming Tuesday, July 8th, 2014, marks the 85th anniversary of that first transcontinental flight from Columbus, Ohio. How fitting it is that now is the time this historic aircraft comes to its new home in Ohio,” adds museum volunteer H. Harvey Lembeck.