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First passenger aircraft, the T-29 Ford Tri-Motor, offers flights in Sarasota this weekend

10:16 PM, Jan 31, 2014   |    comments
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EAA's vintage Ford Tri-Motor



Sarasota, Florida -- Henry Ford is known as a pioneer of automobiles but did you know he also helped launch the commercial airline industry?  

The first passenger plane, a Ford, is in Sarasota this weekend and you can go up for a ride.

The T-29 Ford Tri-Motor is also called the "Tin Goose" and is the world's first mass-produced commercial aircraft. The vintage plane has room for 9 passengers and 2 pilots.

Allan Cate has flown on the Tri-Motor and says, "The plane is a tail dragger with two wheels in the front one in the back causes the plane to tilt. So when you get in you have to walk up hill, there's a single seat on each side of the plane."

Built in 1929 it is still flying 85 years later.  

The restored plane served as Eastern Airlines first passenger plane before flying for Cubana Airlines and has even starred in a few movies such as Indiana Jones. The plane is known for its loud, round engines and offers a bit of nostalgia for the early days of air travel.

"They were unpressurized didn't go over 10-thousand feet you were down low and slow you can see the countryside go by," says Brad Smith, President of the Experimental Aircraft Association local chapter EAA 180. The group is sponsoring the plane's nationwide tour.

The Tri-Motor will be at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport this weekend in the Rectrix-North Center on Clyde Jones Road. Half hour long trips over the city and beaches are available. 

Ticket prices range from $50 for kids and $75 for adults.

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