The 1929 Ford Tri-Motor is considered to be the world’s first true passenger airliner, and this weekend, visitors to Lee’s Summit, Mo., will have the opportunity to take a flight as travelers did more than 80 years ago. The flight lasts about 15-20 minutes with pilot John Maxfield at the controls.
Maxfield has been a volunteer pilot for Tri-Motors for the past two years, but remembers when he was a kid growing up near where the planes were built in Dearborn, Mich.
“Henry Ford built these airliners to start the airline business,” said Maxfield. “This particular one was Eastern Air Transports first airplane, which then became Eastern Airlines.”
According to the Experimental Aircraft Association website, the 1929 Ford Tri-Motor was also leased to Cubana Airlines, where it inaugurated air service between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. The airplane was later flown by the government of the Dominican Republic. After that, it was used in aerial firefighting and in the 1950′s was modified for use by smoke jumpers.
For video and the complete story by Brad Underwood of WDAF-TV, click here.