Flying Above Punta Gorda, Florida, in a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor

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View of Port Charlotte from 1920 Ford Tri-Motor, April 10, 2012

View of Port Charlotte from 1920 Ford Tri-Motor, April 10, 2012

Timing is everything and when I attended the Allegiant Air press conference at the Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) last week, I had no idea I’d end up 1,000 feet above Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte and the Peace River later that morning. No, I didn’t go up with the airline. (Which announced it’s added new cities into PGD and the city will be a new base operation.) Turned out a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor plane was offering airplane rides ($80) and I was invited to take one.

This 1929 Ford Tri-Motor Was First Used by Eastern Air Transport (Eastern Airlines)

This 1929 Ford Tri-Motor Was First Used by Eastern Air Transport (Eastern Airlines)

Flying in History

This plane has a significant role in tourism history: the Ford Tri-Motor was the airline industry’s first enclosed passenger plane. This meant passengers could travel by air in cold weather conditions.

Manufactured in 1929, it was first used by Eastern Air Transport (many of us are old enough to remember it Eastern Airlines) and then for Cubana Airlines. Eventually it returned to the U.S. and converted to a crop duster and used as a smoke jumper by the Forest Fire service.

1929 Ford Tri-Motor's Cabin Accommodates 9 with Spacious Leg Room

1929 Ford Tri-Motor's Cabin Accommodates 9 with Spacious Legroom

Up, Up and Away

Fast forward to 2012. The plane is hangared at EAA’s Pioneer Airport, Oshkosh, Wis., and tours the country offering rides, in addition to offering rides when  home. Eight of these planes are in existence with this being the only one still flying. It’s been restored with a reliable 450 mph Pratt & Whitney engine. When it was first introduced in 1929, it flew 90 mph but I’m guessing the current engine gives it a little more umph.

Although scenic and smooth, the 15-minute ride was LOUD. When boarding, someone asked if he could bring his cell phone and the crew said, “Well, you wont’ be able to use it because you won’t be able to hear,” and he was right. See (and listen) to the video below.

Views were incredible. Of course, I live in a beautiful part of Southwest Florida. But seeing all the waterways of Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte reminded me how special it is.

The 1929 Ford Tri-Motor is touring Florida through mid-May. If you have an opportunity to fly in it, do it! Visit www.flytheford.org for the plane’s schedule and additional info.


If the above video doesn’t play, view it on Tout.

Other than Being at the Airport for My Flight, this Little Cutie Has Nothing to do with the Plane, He's Just So Dang Adorable!

Other than Being at the Airport for My Flight, this Little Cutie Has Nothing to do with the Plane, He's Just So Dang Adorable!

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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3 Comments

  1. Wov … what an adventure – I wouldn’t trust the plane, know silly – but abnormal scared of heights – doesn’t bother me when I really high up, but when I see the ground. No way.
    Brilliant photos too.

  2. Thank you. I have to admit – there was a point when I thought “what did I get myself into” when thinking about the plane was from 1929 🙂

  3. Glad to hear that .. *smile

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