Believe it or not, but before Ford Motor Company was ever involved in building aircraft for the US military during World War II, the company mass produced an airplane of a more civilian sort: the Ford Trimotor. So named for its three gasoline engines, the Trimotor was built from 1925 through 1933, based on a design by engineer and innovator William Bushnell Stout. It was the world’s first mass-produced airliner, and now, 92 years after the first example was built, one is taking to the skies again in Topeka, Kansas.
Now through Sunday, folks can head to Forbes Field in Topeka and purchase a seat aboard a 1928 Ford Trimotor, which is giving rides to up to 10 passengers at a time interested in experiencing the antique airliner. This example was first delivered to its original buyer, Transcontinental Air Transport, on January 18th, 1929. Its interior, clad in Filipino mahogany with lights and drapes at each window, resembles that of a train of similar vintage, which is “what [the planes] were competing against,” says pilot Bill Sleeper.
Each of the Ford Trimotor’s 9-cylinder, 975-cubic-inch (16-liter) radial engines produces about 380 horsepower, although a range of different engines were used in the Trimotor line throughout its production run. A total of 199 aircraft were built.
If you’re close enough to Topeka and wonder what it’s like to fly in a pre-war airliner, tickets are $75 apiece for adults and $50 for children. Want to sit in the co-pilot’s seat? That’ll run $125.
(Source: The Topeka Capital-Journal)