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ChapterGram: November 2013

Ford Tri-Motor Tour Stop Success Story


The EAA crew: Pilot John Maxfield from Detroit, and the ticket team, Mary and Dave Lerlie, from Oshkosh.

Chapter 24 volunteers (left to right) are Gary Barentine, Joel McClung, Brian Lindsey, "Flash" Gordon (Chapter 1098), Gale Braden, Dan Stroud, David Ames, Jim Putnam, Terry Joy, Steve Schmidt, and Dan Delwo (Chapter 1098)..

By Jim Putnam, President, EAA Chapter 24, EAA 780956

EAA Chapter 24 once again showed its prowess and spirit in hosting EAA's famous Ford Tri-Motor at Sundance Airpark, October 7 to 14, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Flying took place from Thursday, October 10, through Sunday, the 13th, and all days except Sunday was CVU - beautiful and perfect for flights - as well as close-up inspections and photos by everyone who came out.

The EAA crew of three seemed thrilled with the response of the public, as well as the volunteerism, professionalism, and friendliness shown by Chapter 24 members and others who volunteered each day.

EAA's Tri-Motor is considered a "constant and welcome noise" at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh each year, and it doesn't even shut down all engines to load and unload passengers (except when refueling). But the sound of those three 450-hp Pratt & Whitney R-985s haven't been heard for many years in Oklahoma. The last time was a similar visit to Tulsa's Riverside Airport several years ago.

The sight and the sound of the aircraft over the local area drew a number of local residents to the airport to experience the Tin Goose themselves and to take flights. One enthusiastic lady was so excited when she landed after flying in the co-pilot's seat that she immediately ran inside and bought a pilot's logbook, asked the captain to log an entry, and then declared she was going to take lessons and become a pilot herself!

After a retired three-star Air Force general saw the aircraft, he brought his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and three grandsons out to visit and took everyone up for a ride. They all came down smiling like it was Christmas morning! In fact, nearly everyone who came down from a flight was smiling or giggling with delight.

Passengers ranged in age from 2 to 92, the latter a gentleman who had been a glider pilot for 50 years and was determined to be a co-pilot on his flight. The delight on his face brought his wife and daughter to the verge of happy tears.

Thursday started off with a visit by the press and two of Oklahoma City's Model A Ford clubs. Nine of the beautifully restored antique autos drove out to be with the airplane and have a photo taken in front of the beautifully restored 1929 airliner. One of the wives in the club got into the spirit as well as dressed in 1920s attire, posing with a car and the aircraft.

In fact, if there was any problem during the visit, it was simply a matter of too many volunteers ready to help! There were some days when one could see a veritable ocean of red or yellow safety vests ready to start, park, load, or unload the Tri-Motor, or simply answer questions and help with photos for those in awe of the aircraft.

Besides the volunteers, what made the visit possible was the tremendous support of the Sundance Airpark owner and his wonderful FBO staff. Their generous support was critical to the successful visit. Besides hangaring the 75-foot-wingspan aircraft during high winds and at night, donations of aviation fuel, work space, and meals was greatly appreciated. The visit would not have been a success without their crucial support. Thanks as well to the Diffee Ford dealership of El Reno, Oklahoma, which kindly donated a courtesy car to the air crew for its use during the visit.

Not since the EAA's magnificent B-17G Aluminum Overcast visited Norman's Westheimer Airport in May this year has Chapter 24 been able to show how adept it has become in hosting the press and public to visit and fly in a classic and historic aircraft. And now, the question for EAA headquarters is: What can we send down to Chapter 24 next?

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