"Cody Welch" Avstry #12

Cody tells us about the EAA's Ford Tri-motor's history and your opportunity to ride this historical treasure.

Published Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2012

Direct link to m4a audio file of show. Recommended (right-click to download/save).

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Show Notes

J.R. Warmkessel: Well, Cody. Thank you so much for being with us today.

Cody Welch: Sure.

J.R. Warmkessel: So I'm here at Air Adventure Oshkosh and one that is a staple here at Oshkosh is the ford Tri-motor.

Cody Welch: It is. Aluminum overcast has its place, but the tin goose is pretty special.

J.R. Warmkessel: She is pretty special. Can you give me a little bit of a history of the tin goose and how she came to EAA's hands?

Cody Welch: Sure. As everybody knows, Henry Ford started a famous industry that we all can relate to. Unknown to most of us is that he actually was the guy behind the creation of commerical aviation. The Ford trimotor was the first mass produced, all metal airliner and all the great airliners started with Ford trimotors. So Ford trimotors are extremely important. I'm a retired airline pilot and I sit there and pay homage to that airplane every time I look at it or climb onboard, because it's where it all began and I owe my career to the vision of Henry Ford, believe it or not, who helped bring this into fruition.

J.R. Warmkessel: Wow. That's incredable. So he basically was the one that said, "Hey, I think we should start making these things where the public can go from place to place in a reliable, safe fashion."

Cody Welch: Yeah. He had a quote and I'll probably blow it a little bit, but essentially what his philosophy was was that he saw a time when airplane would be able to shorten the distances and therefore the differences between people. He really was a mass transit kind of a guy.

J.R. Warmkessel: Wow. I love the airplanes in the background. So cool. So how did this tin goose from into EAA's possession? Can you give me a little bit of the history?

Cody Welch: Sure. This particular one is a pretty famous airplane and in 1973 the airplane was lost in a storm in Burlington, Wisconsin. It was owned by some people in Ottowa, Kansas, who were using the airplane to generate revenue and anyway. There were a dozen airplanes ripped loose from their tiedowns this day and coincidentally the function that they were at was a fundraiser for a new EAA museum. It was actually an EAA event in Burlington, Wisconsin. June of 73. So Paul Pobresne was in the next airplane, with the engine running, trying to keep it from blowing over and he watched this grand old lady go over backwards and end up on it's back. It was a terrible thing. The wind ripped it loose from the tiedowns and Paul decided that EAA needed to get a Ford trimotor and he went after the insurance company and they bought the wreck and it took a dozen years to rebuild it. We brought it to the EAA convention July 1985. So it's been flying for us ever since and generating revenue, but this is a particularly famous Ford. Obviously, EAA's operated a Ford trimotor longer than anybody in history including all the great airlines, but this one is Eastern Airline's first airplane. This is Cubana Airline's first airplane. This particular Ford. Dominican has started an airline, the dictator did, and one airplane. Didn't fly it very much, but technically it started the Dominican Airline. Our airplane's been a smoke jumper and a borate bomber. It's hopped rides. It's been in two different movies and there are just no Ford trimotor that has any more history going for it than this one.

J.R. Warmkessel: Sure does and it's been here at Oshkosh every year since then?

Cody Welch: It's been here. We've been flying it here at the convention for 15 years and, prior to that, we took it out and did weekend out and back trips with it. I personally have been flying it about 20 years.

J.R. Warmkessel: So how did you come to fly it?

Cody Welch: I was asked by one of the other volunteers just based on background, back when we needed a second pilot.

J.R. Warmkessel: Can you do a bit of a flavor of what it is to fly an aircraft?

Cody Welch: I tell people it's like flying a Winged Winnebago. But it is interesting, the airplane typical of antiques has a pretty severe adverse yaw. You find that you are going to be very busy with your feet. In fact, you're not going to make any turn of any consequence, you're going to get a lot of rudder in, leading the rotor with a head of the ailerons because of the adverse yaw. But you can actually do a very good job at it. Ground handling on the ground as tail draggers go is pretty benign, so a really easier plane on the ground. The airplane is schizophrenic and sometimes it thinks it's a space shuttle and other times it thinks it's a piper cub and it will change its mind two or three times and final approach. So, we really like that about it. The airplane demands your full attention but it's a predictable airplane. It is extremely reliable. We've had wonderful luck mechanically with the airplane and of course the EAA staff, wonderful mechanics that are full-time employees here at EAA, know the airplane extremely well. And there it is in the background.

J.R. Warmkessel: There it is in the background coming back from another mission. Now it has three engines, three motors.

Cody Welch: Yeah, they are Pratt & Whitnety Nine-eighty-fives.

J.R. Warmkessel: Okay

Cody Welch: Four hundred fifty horse, nine hundred eighty-five cubic inch, the same engines and the behavior of the Staggerwing , the beech- eighteen road common engine.

J.R. Warmkessel: Well-known, Well respected engine.

Cody Welch: Very reliable.

J.R. Warmkessel: And now, you give rides in this aircraft as well?

Cody Welch: Yeah. That's our mission. Our mission one hundred percent, you know the membership does at the EAA are not going to support the airplanes. So they have to fly for food, so to speak. So the Ford travels, we are operating two Fords. The other one is a model five eighty, the one we are talking about in eastern airplanes is model four eighty. Both airplanes are touring and we're going to see fifty cities in two thousand and twelve and bringing the airplanes and EAAs mission out to those all over the country, the eastern half of the United States. And one of these days, you might see one of these fords out on the west coast as well.

J.R. Warmkessel: Oh, fantastic! Now how many people, how many passengers can you take on, on one of your missions?

Cody Welch: Its nine passengers.

J.R. Warmkessel: Nine passengers. And here at Airventure Oshkosh, can you give us a little flavor of what a passenger might experience soup to nuts

Cody Welch: Oh absolutely. They'd be surprised that it is reasonably quiet, more than they might expect. They'll find that they have this massive picture window and seat pitch or the distance between the seat and head of them that is triple, anything on any modern day airliner. Everybody gets off with a smile because they can't believe the visibility, the sensation of flying underneath the high winged airliner and at the speeds they were flying, which is slower than slow. We have an extremely slow airplane.

J.R. Warmkessel: So they buy a ticket here at the Ford Tri-Motors building and then, what happens from there?

Cody Welch: Well we, we gather passengers and give them a briefing and we get a full safety briefing just like, probably even better than modern day airliners. We, we assemble in a queue and we go fly. It's, it's just classic airplane ride operation.

J.R. Warmkessel: And how long; let it go in here. And about how long an experience is it?

Cody Welch: It's about ten minutes.

J.R. Warmkessel: Okay, fantastic. And is it a very similar experience when the aircraft is out travelling?

Cody Welch: Yeah, yeah we; because of the volume of the people we are trying to accommodate here, the rides are a little shorter here at Oshkosh necessarily so. We've got thousands of people who would love to ride on it. So we untour; it's a little more laid back and we stretch it out a few more minutes.

J.R. Warmkessel: Sure, sure. And if, what's with the price? How much, how much does it cost?

Cody Welch: It's eighty dollars to ride on the Tri-Motor.

J.R. Warmkessel: Oh fantastic. And then lastly, if we want to get more information about the Ford Tri-Motor, where would we go?

Cody Welch:; really easy.

J.R. Warmkessel: And if people have any other questions, they can come to our website and we will link to your site.

Cody Welch: Great!

J.R. Warmkessel: Well, thank you so much for your time.

Cody Welch: You're welcome.

J.R. Warmkessel: Bye-bye.

Cody Welch: Bye.

Direct link to mp3 audio file of show (right-click to download/save).

Show Notes