A Vintage 1929 Ford Tri-Motor 4-AT-E-NC8407 aircraft that is billed as the first airliner makes a stop at the Merritt Island airport Monday afternoon as it continues on a tour offering rides
MERRITT ISLAND, FL (Florida Today) -- Wolfgang Lau has flown thousands of hours as an airline pilot.
But on Monday
afternoon, he was a passenger in the back of a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor as
it flew over Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island.
Ford Tri-Motor, nicknamed the "Tin Goose," was the world's first
mass-produced commercial aircraft. The plane, owned by the Experimental
Aircraft Association, is scheduled to fly passengers today and tomorrow
for short flights from Merritt Island Airport, as it continues touring
More info: Fly in a Ford Tri-Motor!
It's next stop will be at the Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport from January 30 - February 2.
wonderful," Lau said after his flight. "I have 28,000 hours as a pilot
in command, but this is still fun to step back in history."
a retired Southwest Airlines pilot and his wife, Susan, a flight
attendant for the airline, said they could not pass up the opportunity
to fly on the historic aircraft.
was nice to be part of history," Susan Lau said. "I especially liked
his briefing. It is similar to what I have to do at work."
aircraft took off with 10 passengers for a flight that went from
Merritt Island across the Banana River, along Cocoa Beach and Cape
Canaveral and back to Merritt Island on a flight that took a little more
than 20 minutes.
Passengers constantly snapped pictures of the scenery and of themselves during the smooth flight in the 84-year-old plane.
Chief pilot Cody Welch said the Ford Tri-Motor was extremely significant to aviation history in the United States.
aviation as we know it today is thanks to Ford," he said. "It was the
first mass-produced airline. It's what got all of our airlines started.
1929 Tri-Motor visiting Merritt Island first flew Aug. 21, 1929.
Painted in the color scheme of the old Eastern Airlines, itwas that
airline's first plane. It then went on to become the first airplane of
Cubana Airlines before being sent to Dominican Republic, where it served
damage during a thunderstorm in 1973, EAA founder Paul Poberezny bought
the aircraft, which underwent a 12-year restoration. Following service
as a crop duster and in aerial firefighting, it returned to flying
passengers in 1991. It is kept at the AirVenture Museum at Pioneer
Airport in Oshkosh, Wis.
aircraft has appeared in two major movies: 1965's "The Family Jewels"
with Jerry Lewis and 2009's "Public Enemies" with Johnny Depp.
"I always wanted to fly in it," said Jim Soldini, 71, of Palm Bay.
Soldini couldn't wait to get on the Ford Tri-Motor as his wife, Annette Soldini, snapped photos.
"When I was 16, my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday," Soldani said. "I said I wanted to fly in a DC-3."
airplane, which has been on tours across the United States, came to
Merritt Island for the first time Monday, landing to the cheers of
Miguel Salas, a student pilot from Ecuador at Pan Am International Flight Academy on Merritt Island, stopped to snap photos.
"It's amazing," he said. "It think it's a strong airplane."
Passengers applauded at the end of their flight and left saying they had enjoyed it.
"We put smiles on faces every single time," Welch said. "There is always a historic connection."
You may also like...
Weird Florida: A look back at some of the strangest stories of the year
Miracle Baby: Tampa toddler has 5-organ transplant
Broke Bad: Contest winner busted in synthetic drug ring
Here kitty, kitty: Lion escapes enclosure at Pasco sanctuary
Fake Cop: Man arrested 3 times for impersonating officer
Animal tragedy: Girl's miniature horse attacked by dogs
#ShortYellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights
Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children
Popular photo galleries:
Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers
Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos
Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant
Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV ***warning graphic***
Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole
Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here
Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here