A number of Grayson County residents and aircraft enthusiasts got the chance to fly over Texoma in a nearly 100-year-old airplane Thursday, thanks to one area aviation group determined to take the public’s love of aircraft and air travel to new heights.
The Grayson County chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association flew a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor passenger plane into North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field for a weekend of air tours open to the public. Visitors and passengers got the chance to walk around the aircraft before embarking on 20-minute flight over the Sherman-Denison area.
“It’s an opportunity for us to introduce the aviation of yesterday to some of today’s generation,” EAA Grayson County Chapter President John Horn said. “It’s great for pilots young and old and plane enthusiasts young and old.”
EAA member and pilot Ed Rusch, who took passengers up in the air on Thursday, said the Ford Tri-Motor was the result of a business deal between Bill Stout of the Stout Metal Aircraft Co. and the Ford Motor Co. Rusch explained that the aircraft first hit the production line in 1926 and went from single-propeller and open-air-cockpit designs to the three-engine model that motored down the NTRA runway. The Ford Motor Co. built less than 200 of the aircraft and only six remain operational today.
“Henry Ford and his son Edsel didn’t agree on anything except that aviation had a future,” Rusch said. “So they saw this as an opportunity to make a quality, safe passenger aircraft. And it’s unique because it was the first-all metal airliner ever built in the United States.”
Jonah Saxon showed up to take a closer look at the plane and said it was impressive to see how aviation technology had changed in the last century.
“To think about where it is today and to think about how far its come is pretty amazing,” Saxon said.
Despite his love of airplanes, Saxon said he was happy to gaze at them from the ground. He said that he only took to the air once back in 1952, and the experience was enough to last him a lifetime.
“That was the first and last time I flew,” Saxon said with a laugh. “I’m scared of heights, but I like planes — this one too.”
But for Horn, taking planes high into the sky was his idea of the perfect escape. Horn said getting his wheels off the ground and cruising through the air allowed him to be free of all the daily responsibilities that would normally weigh him down.
“I’m not thinking about work and, for me, that’s why I do it,” Horn said. “I think about the beauty that can only be seen from the air.”
Those interested in flying on the Ford Tri-Motor can purchase tickets at North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field. Flights will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. For additional information, call 903-786-2904.