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Ford Tri-Motor Brings Aviation History To Bloomington

The Experimental Aircraft Association has brought an antique aircraft – and a chance to fly as aviators did in the 1920s — to Monroe County.

A restored 1929 Ford Tri-Motor airplane, one of just two such planes in regular service, will fly history buffs over Bloomington this weekend, much like it carried passengers up and down the east coast during the Great Depression.

Volunteer pilot Tom Leahy says it’s an opportunity to experience what it was like to fly 75 years ago.

“This airplane did start the airline industry, said Leahy, “and I think it’s a real nice piece of history to have out so people can experience it and see what flying was like in the early days of flying and air travel.”

The Tri-Motor has undergone numerous restorations and stays in Oshkosh Wisconsin when not on tour. A 15 minute ride costs $60 for those who aren’t members of the Experimental Aircraft Association and allows passengers to see Monroe County in a way most people haven’t — from the 1000 feet in the air.

Though the ride is smooth, Leahy said the controls aren’t as user-friendly as in modern planes.

“It’s kind of like a large Suburban without the power steering and the power brakes,” he said.

The nine-seater airplane will reside at the Monroe County Airport until Sunday before taking off for a stint in Terre Haute.

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