History Touches Down In Erie - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

History Touches Down In Erie

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A piece of history is touching down in Erie this week. Thanks to the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor plane is in town, and on Monday, we got a sneak peek of what it's like flying in it.

It's a view of Erie, like you've never seen before, from one of only two remaining Ford Tri-Motors in the country, still taking to the skies. The Ford Tri-Motor was the world's first mass-produced airliner, and only 199 were made. The one stopping in Erie has a long history.

"Northwest Airlines used it for a few years, then in went to Air Alaska to form that company, then later on, it went do to Missoula for some smoke-jumping, fire fighting training, then onto scenic airways in the Grand Canyon," said pilot Tom Leahy. 

How is the plane still running, after 84 years? Turns out, it was actually revamped in the 1980s.

"There's nothing complicated on the airplane," said Leahy. "The engine parts are available, brand new today. The airplane is all very simple flat or round stock. And all the tooling still exists to build this plane." 

For the next few days, the plane will be making multiple flights in the skies over Erie, taking passengers on an adventure, seeing landmarks like the bayfront and Dobbins Landing, and unique views of Presque Isle.

Those who boarded the plane said this ride was like nothing they've experienced.

"It's sort of a thrill because as a child, growing up interested in aviation, the first plane kit I ever built was a Ford Tri-Motor," said Scott Brown of Erie. "I've always been interested in it, the chance to fly one here today was just beyond belief."

"I'm a pilot and an aviation enthusiast and I would not have missed it for the world," said Shaun Mullins of Buffalo, New York. "This is a golden opportunity to relive a piece of aviation history that you won't ever get to see again."

If you missed this once in a lifetime plane ride, you can check the plane out at the North Coast School. It'll be here until Wednesday. For more information, you can head to www.flytheford.com.

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