Photo by Jasmine Cupp
The Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton has acquired a flyable model 5-AT-B Ford Tri-Motor, arriving in the hanger July 9, 2014. The plane, called the City of Wichita, renamed City of Port Clinton, was purchased from the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum located in McMinnville, Oregon, where the plane was grounded for the last 9 years. The plane will now find its home in Port Clinton.
The plane was flown in by Ed Rusch and Cody Welsh over 4 days, beginning the trip flying through the Rocky Mountains and making stops in Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. Ed has been flying Ford Tri-Motors out of Erie-Ottawa International Airport since 1973, and was the pilot of the last commercial Tri-Motor flight commissioned January 1, 1986, out of the airport. Ed also played a large part in getting the City of Wichita airworthy, putting hours in over the last six weeks for repairs and reinstalling the engines.
Born July 8, 1929, in Columbus, Ohio, the plane was part of the first transcontinental air and rail service available to citizens. In homage to its birthright, the plane will be leased out throughout the year to the Experimental Aircraft Association and will tour the United States. The City of Port Clinton will be visiting Erie-Ottawa International airport throughout the year, and will serve as a goodwill ambassador for the Liberty Aviation Museum and Port Clinton.
The acquisition of a Ford Tri-Motor marks a longtime goal of the museum, but finishing restorations on the current in house Tri-Motor still remain high on the priority list. The current restoration is still a few years away from completion, and when complete it will find Port Clinton its permanent year-round home.
Photo by John Schaffner