The fi rst Ford Tri-Motor design had a wingspan of more than 75 feet and was 50 feet long. It was powered by three 9-cylinder Wright Whirlwind J5 engines. The entire fuselage was made of corrugated duralumin, and the wings were fabricated using internal metal bracing which Ford claimed made his tri-motor stronger than any aircraft built thus far. It was also noisy, and passengers were supplied with cotton ear plugs. It was not long before it earned the nickname “Tin Goose.” The Ford Tri-Motor could accommodate ten passengers and three crew — a pilot, fi rst offi cer and a courier (steward). Creature comforts onboard the Tri-Motor included a toilet and folding tables upon which food was served. In the winter, the Tri-Motor was heated. In summer passengers were advised to cool down by opening their window. Between 1925 and 1931 Ford’s son Edsel off ered the Edsel B. Ford Reliability Trophy during the National Air Races. The tour was designed to educate the public that air travel could be safe and dependable if speed were not the major factor. Most likely these tours impressed Charles Lindbergh who was assigned to select the fi rst aircraft to carry passengers on Transcontinental Air Transport in 1929. Passengers took trains to modern airport terminals where they boarded a 5-AT Ford Tri-Motor, powered by three Pratt & Whitney 420hp engines.

THE RESCUE While Ford focused on reliability during the 1920s, dozens of air races were sponsored for endurance, speed, altitude and maneuvers. Hundreds of pilots, both military and civilian, competed — becoming America’s post-WWI heroes. Entered in the 1925 National Air Races, Clarence Duncan Chamberlin gained

recognition not for his win but for surviving a “spectacular crash.” Chamberlin’s background included a talent for mechanical repairs and earning his wings in the Signal Corps just prior to the end of WWI. He purchased a Belanca Model CE and

barnstormed with it until that also crashed. With a post-war Standard aircraft, he supported himself as a barnstormer, air mail pilot, aerial photographer and fl ight instructor. Wealthy Raymond Orteig off ered $25,000 for the fi rst aviator to fl y


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You expect it to be protected against punishing weather, extreme temperatures, corrosion exposure and aggressive chemical and cleaning materials.

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