This weekend, you have the opportunity to step back in time to the Golden Age of Aviation and fly on what may be the first-ever passenger airliner at Manassas Regional Airport.
The Experimental Aircraft Association brought one of its two 1929 Ford Tri-Motor airplanes to the airport this week, and is offering flights to the public.
“You go to a museum and you see an airplane hanging from the ceiling,” said Cody Welch of Michigan. He is one of the two volunteer pilots of the plane. Welch and Colin Soucy are retired Delta Airlines pilots.
“Our mission is for the public to see what it was it is like to fly in them, whenever possible, and give people a chance to travel back in time,” Welch said.
The airplane is one of 12 remaining, one of four operational and two owned by the association.
These planes played roles ranging from service as Cuban airliner to extensive back ground fighting forest fires while transporting smoke jumpers.
The planes also have made appearances in two major movies—1960’s “Family Jewels” starring Jerry Lewis and 2009’s “Public Enemies” starring Johnny Depp.
The visiting aircraft traveled across the country delivering freight and mail. In 1945, it received a complete overhaul from Monroe Airways. From there, the Tri-Motor performed a variety of duties providing scenic flights down to the Grand Canyon and also fighting forest fires. In 1991, it was purchased and rebuilt by Kal-Aero and then donated to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo.
“What we are doing is barnstorming, which in the 1920s meant going from city to city hopping rides,” Welch said. “At the beginning, that meant landing in hayfields where someone could get a ride for 30 cents or for a penny per pound. That was great for the kids.”
The planes carry up to 10 passengers and every seat has a window. The plane is small; the ride is loud, but the experience is amazing.
Passengers are encouraged to bring a camera. Tickets purchased in advance are $70 for adults; walk-up tickets are $75 and $50 for children 17 years old and under.
The flights take off hourly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sunday. Visitors are encouraged to just come out to the Manassas airport for the ride. For more information, call Jackie at 920-379-8339.