Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Flying the EAA 1929 Ford Tri-Motor!

Recently I was honored to be able to fly EAAs 1929 Ford Tri-Motor! I flew it out of Shreveport Louisiana (DTN) on a beautiful sunny weekend. The Ford Tri-Motor has always been one of my favorite aircraft of all time. So, as you can imagine I was in heaven that day, a day that I will never forget.

Trying to maintain my cool and a heading!

My Captain for the day was Cody Welch, a retired airline pilot with over 33,000 flight hours. As if it wasn't hard enough for me to maintain my cool, I had one of the most experienced pilots in the entire state next to me. Capt. Welch ended up being one of the most down to earth and happy pilots that I've ever met. I confided to him that this was a dream come true for me to fly this airplane. He told me that he knows exactly how I feel. He said, "I still feel that way after numerous years of flying this bird!"

Capt. Cody Welch and Chris Rosenfelt

As a lot of my readers know, I have been flying skydivers for over 7 years now. So it was definitely cool to discover that the Tri-Motor that I flew also has a history of flying skydivers! It turns out that specific airplane use to fly Smoke Jumpers, helping to put out forest fires in Missoula Montana back in the 1950s. I have included a cool photo that I found of it back in the day about to take on a load of Jumpers.

Smoke Jumpers about to board Ford Tri-Motor in Missoula MT.

One of our passengers had a very interesting story to tell. He is Shreveport businessman Byrum Teekell. When he was only 5 years old (80 years ago) his father took him to the, then new Shreveport Downtown Airport to take his first airplane ride. It turns out that it was this very same airplane! That first flight inspired him to become a pilot, which he did, and even flew around the world in 1992!

Mr. Teekell told us that his first time up in this Tri-Motor it was piloted by legendary pioneer pilot Clarence Duncan Chamberlin. The second man to pilot a fixed-wing aircraft across the Atlantic, carrying the first transatlantic passenger. Yep, hearing that was definitely humbling for me to hear. Something I probably need more of.

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