Fly-In features early, recent aircraft at Bartlesville airport
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Friday, September 16, 2011
9/16/11 at 4:34 AM
BARTLESVILLE - In 1926, when Henry Ford directed his engineers at the Ford Motor Co. to build what became the Ford Tri-Motor, it took two weeks to drive across the country in a Model A Ford.
The Ford Tri-Motor transformed the journey into a two-and-a-half-day trip, and it launched the commercial airline industry, aviation historians say.
"Henry Ford insisted the airplane have three engines and two pilots," said Colin Soucy, who flies the Tri-Motor for the Experimental Aircraft Association of Oshkosh, Wis., and who flies an Airbus A320 for Delta Air Lines during his working hours.
"This was the first all-metal enclosed airplane. Before this plane was manufactured, everything was open cockpit airplanes. This airplane allowed the airlines to get started in this country."
A 1929 Ford Tri-Motor, number 69 of 199 manufactured by Ford before Donald Douglas' DC-3 revolutionized commercial air travel and made the Ford obsolete, will be the star this weekend at the 55th Annual Tulsa Regional Fly-In.
Soucy and the other EAA pilots will be offering flights in the nine-passenger Ford Tri-Motor for $70 a seat throughout the fly-in.
The fly-in is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Frank Phillips Field in Bartlesville.
Along with the Ford Tri-Motor, the fly-in will feature up to 300 antique, classic, biplanes, contemporary, experimental, warbird and light sport aircraft from around the country.
The event, which is sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 10 in Tulsa and Doenges Ford of Bartlesville, also is celebrating 100 years of U.S. Navy aviation.
In 1911, Eugene B. Ely, a civilian pilot, landed his Curtiss pusher biplane on an American cruiser at anchor in San Francisco Bay, the first landing of a plane on a ship.
In commemoration of the event, Navy aircraft such as the Grumman Wildcat fighter, the only shipboard fighter in the U.S. arsenal at the outbreak of World War II, will be on display along with other World War II-era military aircraft.
Also, on Saturday, the fly-in will feature displays of several 1929-1931 Ford Model As, as well as later model classic automobiles.
Soucy said the EAA's Ford Tri-Motor is one of eight that have survived the past 82 years.
"This is the only one that does fly regularly," Soucy said. "The others are in museums."
The Ford Tri-Motor is rugged because it was designed to take off from grass landing strips.
"In the '20s there were no radios or instruments so they had to go below the clouds at 4,000 to 5,000 feet," Soucy said. "You're flying by the seat of your pants. You look out the window and fly the airplane.
"My commercial flying is very scripted and regulated, and this is the opposite. This type of flying is the reason I got into aviation in the first place. ... This airplane allows the public to see what transportation was in the '30s and '40s and to experience the sights and sounds of the '30s and '40s."
Ashley Messenger, an EAA pilot who flies Canadair regional jets for Comair, said the Tri-Motor's three Pratt & Whitney 450-horsepower engines - the original Fords' 300-horsepower air-cooled radial Wright Whirlwinds are no longer available - burn 60 gallons of fuel per hour. The plane has a 230-gallon tank.
"This airplane can take off in 150 feet and needs 700 to 800 feet for a landing," Messenger said. "It's a pure pilot's airplane. It requires basic stick-and-rudder skills."
55th Annual Tulsa Regional Fly-In
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: Frank Phillips Field (Bartlesville Municipal Airport),
What: Static and flying demonstrations of antique, classic,
biplanes, experimental, light sport, warbird and contemporary
aircraft from around the nation.
Admission by donation: Adults, $7; students, $3; children under
five years, free.
Additional information: tulsaworld.com/flyin or 918-622-8400.
Sponsors: Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 10, Tulsa,
and Doenges Ford, Bartlesville.
Original Print Headline: Fly-in features early aircraft
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451
A 1929 Ford Tri-Motor propeller plane is on display and available for flights at Bartlesville Municipal Airport through Saturday. The plane, one of only six of its kind still flying, is owned and operated by the Oshkosh, Wis.-based Experimental Aircraft Association. JEFF LAUTENBERGER/Tulsa World
This is one of the underwing Pratt & Whitney 450-horsepower engines on a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor propeller plane on display and available for flights at Bartlesville Municipal Airport through Saturday. The plane, one of only six Tri-Motors still flying, is owned and operated by the Experimental Aircraft Association. JEFF LAUTENBERGER/Tulsa World