Ford Tri-Motor


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  TRANSPORT, PASSENGERVirtual Aircraft Museum / USA / Ford  

Tri-Motor 5-AT

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 ENGINE3 x 313kW Pratt & Whitney R-1340-C1 or SC1 Wasp radial piston engines
  Take-off weight6123 kg13499 lb
  Wingspan23.72 m78 ft 10 in
  Length15.32 m50 ft 3 in
  Height3.86 m13 ft 8 in
  Wing area77.57 m2834.96 sq ft
  Max. speed241 km/h150 mph
  Ceiling5640 m18500 ft
  Range885 km550 miles

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Alan J. Stewart, e-mail, 24.08.2017 00:21

Cincinnati, Ohio, mid 90's, Lunken Airport (Sunken Lunken, it was near the Ohio River and sometimes flooded). Labor Day weekend, giant fireworks sponsored by WEBN, 2 million people lining the banks of the Ohio River. $20, 15 passengers, 30 minute flight at 90 mph. Too bad I didn't have my camera.


Dean Marr, e-mail, 24.05.2017 16:30

Several times during my Sandusky, Ohio high school years (1947-50)I have flown the Island Airlines Ford Tri-Motor from Port Clinton to Middle Bass Island for pheasant hunting with my dad. The wicker seats and the noise, I remember well. Also remember the ticketing process as being very unique. The ticket, which I believe cost a $1.50,
was a credit card sized metal plate. When it was time to board, the man who sold you the ticket collected it back as you boarded the plane. Then he also boarded the plane, closed the door, went to the pilot's seat, started the engines and off we went. Talk about a one man operation!! Since they had 3 planes at the time I suspect it was at
least a 3 man operation.

Fast forward about 20 years to the late 1960's. I lived in Detroit and had a yacht moored on the Detroit river. One summer Friday, with 6 other couples, we motored down the river to Lake Erie and then east to Middle Bass for a weekend of wine and fun.

Come Sunday our planned return trip was in serious doubt due to very rough waters on the lake and since some of our group had to be back to work the first thing Monday AM, I called Island Airlines to see if we could charter a Tri-Motor to take 10 people to Detroit City Airport. No problem and if memory serves me correctly, the cost was only about $150.00 for all ten people. It turned out to be extremely profitable for Island Airlines. The plane generated so much interest after landing at Detroit City Airport that arrangements were made were made for it to return to Detroit for the next weekend which was a 3 day holiday (either July 4th or Labor Day). I'm told that they spent 3 days taking hundreds of passengers for short rides. A win-win situation is there ever was one.


sydney crawford, e-mail, 27.02.2017 02:44

My father, Vernon "Crazy" Johns flew this airplane for Henry Ford in Dearborn MI.


sydney crawford, e-mail, 26.01.2017 19:04

My father flew the Ford Tri-Motor for Henry Ford, Vernon "Crazy" Johns. He was his pilot for several years. I believe my husband asked the question about any info back in 2010 but no one responded. I have photos of my dad in front of that plane.


david R, e-mail, 22.05.2016 17:56

About ten years ago I got to ride one of these Ford Tri Motors at the Confederate Air Force Show in El Cajon Ca.
During take off we lost the Port (left) engine and you could see the cylinder bouncing around as the bolts holding had stripped out. Oil was streaming out and along the left hand windows where I was sitting in the last seat. The pilot, a retired fellow with white hair, calmly did a series of left turns crosswind, downwind, crosswind with the failed motor still spinning and landed where he had taken off minutes before on the remaining two engines. After everyone was gone I asked the Pilot to sign my Ford Trimotor book I had gotten while working at Ford Aerospace in Newport Beach. After thanking him for the Autograph and for landing us safely I asked him why he did not feather the prop on the Port motor when it failed... He told me, (very quietly) that if he had feathered the prop and declared an emergency, the Tower would have called the FAA and he would be grounded for days during investigations...
I hung around a while after my flight and sure enough a mechanic arrived with a new piston and sleeve and he was back up in the air before the sun went down....
That was the last time I flew in ANY airplane... I want to remember my last flight as an exciting one... but live to see another day....
Dave B Spring Valley Ca


Bob Brown, e-mail, 31.01.2016 01:01

In the summer of 1957, I sat Indian Hill fire tower in the Nez Perce National Forest, Idaho, in the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness. Twice, I had smoke jumpers dispatched from Missoula in this plane, and they hiked out via my tower. My first glimpse of the Trimotor was at dawn as it came in from the east. My God, but was it LOUD! As I recall, it could throttle back to 40 knots, and the jumpers really loved it rather than the DC-3. One said it was like stepping off a dock. What a pleasure it was to renew friendship with this plane when I found it at the Pensacola Naval Air Museum.


Jim Reimholz, e-mail, 25.03.2015 02:49

As a seventeen year old, myself and two friends spent some long weekends at Put-in-Bay. We would watch the arrival and departure of the Islands Airline Ford Trimotor island hoppers on the big green lawn in front of the hotel. Two of us decided to take the ride over to Port Clinton one afternoon, an exciting 5 minute ride. We came back in a float plane half hour later. Couldn't have been very expensive because we didn't have much money.
Now, 70 years later, I will board one again for a joy ride around the Bay Area via the EAA tour out of San Carlos Airport in May. Check one off my Bucket List!


Tim O'Callaghan, e-mail, 11.02.2015 01:29

In addition to the two Ford models shown there was the first Ford plane - the 2AT a single engine plane powered by a WW I Liberty aircraft engine and several experimental planes including the single seat personal Flivver that set several distance records. For a complete history of Ford aviation see my book THE AVIATION LEGACY OF HENRY AND EDSEL FORD



Stearns, e-mail, 04.02.2015 04:47

Flew on the tri motor many times . My grandmother and grandfather. Lived on Middle Bass island . We have had many generations of family on the island. The sound of that plane bring the mail in to the islands every day ,well you just new what was flying over .,it had a great sound. I will always remember it. Last time I rode on it I sat on A gas can in the back .went to North bass island then Rattle snake then on to Put n Bay. What a great day that was.
My grandmother rode over with a cow they pushed up the isle . Took it to Northbass island . Only 9 people live there now.
We did not know then how lucky we were. It does fly around the islands every 4th of July not sure the cost. But the sound is still the same when it flys over. It's is still the best plane.....


Clem Clement, e-mail, 27.01.2015 18:12

I had a short flight here in the DC area. Engine noise the same for takeoff or cruise. I loved the old bird. Afterward I let the pilots have a ride in my Model A Ford.


Harley A.becknall, e-mail, 11.01.2015 09:57

A plane like this landed in our pasture,forced to land because of fog,20 miles southeast of Bismarck, no. Dak. About. 1948with. Three men aboard.


Sunderajan, e-mail, 08.12.2013 10:04

In the 40s, I was an apprentice with Tata Airlines, Juhu in Bombay. We had three or four Stinson Trimotors. But, i am not sure whether they were the High wing or low wing type. Later they were scrapped and the fuselages were used as beach cabins at Juhu beach.I would like from any pilot who has flown these.


Thomas Bauer, e-mail, 09.10.2012 04:49

Do I ever. Labor Day weekend, 1960. I was three years old. I was with the whole family at Put-In-Bay. I remember the ferry boat ride to the island, then leaving later that day on the trimotor. It was my first plane ride, and my Aunt Alma told me that I was screaming to the pilot to get the plane off the ground! I do remember people looking at me and smiling. We flew back to the mainland and as we landed, the right gear hit a muddy puddle of water which doused the right side of the plane. Once we got out, I walked up to the right wheel and put my hand upon it. I've flown on Island Airline trimotors at least three times since, and consider this aircraft my favorite. I miss them all.


Phil Sattler, e-mail, 25.06.2012 05:40

I have a picture of the Ford Fliver airplace. How can I send it to you?


Richard, e-mail, 12.06.2012 02:20

Thank YOU HENRY FORD, After being discharge from the USAF in 1965 I spent time working on these Tri Motors at Island Air Lines in Port CLinton, Ohio,I beleive these were some of the last ones to being flown..NOW during special events they return and fly passengers aroun the Island in norther Ohio.

Later some years one went down on Put in Bay (I think could have been an another island)


Beverly Stender, e-mail, 28.05.2012 17:09

I am looking for the stewdardess that flew on the first flight for the Ford Tri-Motor Air Plane. I met a lady named Sally that flew as an American Airline stewardess on the Tri-Motor from Detroit to ?? in early 30's. Can you give me more history about her? She married Rex & lives in Texas now. A very interesting lady! Thank you!! Beverly Stender
1550 W. Murphy Lake Road
Fostoria, MI


Marge Strausbaugh, e-mail, 08.04.2012 02:02

My Mom was born and raised on South Bass Island, Put-in-Bay, Ohio. When we visited my Grandparents in the winter we had to fly on the "Tin Goose" to get there. I can remember the last time I flew on it was in 1963 when I was 10. We were going to Put-in-Bay for Christmas. My Dad didn't like to fly because he had been in a plane wreck during World War II. He was intrigued though with this plane and would talk about its history. I remember it was really noisy and cold.


Bob Draznik, e-mail, 10.03.2012 23:49

I was born in 1929. When I was 5 years old (probably) a guy came to Wilhelmi Field in Joliet offering rides for fifty cents a piece. It was the middle of the Depression but my Dad was bound and determined to take me up for a ride. I can still bring up the picture of seeing farm fields below as we circled around Joliet, my first airplane ride.


Bob Robertson, e-mail, 10.02.2012 18:47

In the summers of '66 and '67 my wife, baby daughter and I flew on the Island Airline's Ford Tri Motor many times while I was a student at the OSU's Stone Lab located at Put-In-Bay. It was always an exciting ride sitting in wicker seats (I think) and looking out at Lake Erie through scratched and oil soaked plastic windows. It was one of the few planes that could be easily heard even under water while SCUBA diving when it passed low overhead! Several years latter our oldest son rode in the co-pilots seat on one flight between Port Clinton and Put-In-Bay. He might have been 10 or 12 at that time. I understand that plane was latter dammaged while on the ground by high winds. It may have been sold to someone near Mansfield Ohio where we once saw it flying. I used to have a Revelle model of that same plane with "Island Airlines" markings. A wonderful plane!!!


Ken Heuser, e-mail, 17.12.2011 20:13

Jan.1953, Shepard Field Tex. U.S. Air Force, 'Air Craft and engine mechnic school'. First aircraft that I was allowed to work on. We removed all 3 engines. dissembled, inspected and repaired, reassembled and reinstalled the engines. I was then allowed to go on the test flight. The wing on it was updide down from all other aircraft before or since. Was told this was so it would be able to take off on shorter fields. On take off you could not hear any thing. Not from the engines but from the tin on the boddy. Because of this it was called, 'The tim lizzy'. Thoes were the days.


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