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September 20, 2011

Vintage Airliner Flies into St. Louis Downtown Airport

Patti Beck
External Communications Manager

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) will fly a fully restored 1929 Ford Tri-Motor plane into St. Louis Downtown Airport next week. The Ford Tri-Motor aircraft built by Ford Motor Company in the 1920’s, played an important role in the development of safe and reliable air travel in the United States. It was the first mass produced airliner in the world. This is a rare opportunity to not only see one of these aircrafts up close but to actually go for a ride in it.

Flights Offered in a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor Airliner

St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Illinois

Sept. 22–25, 2011 (Thursday – Sunday)

Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt all flew in Ford Tri-Motors in the 20’s and 30’s. The Ford Tri-Motor airplane was the luxury plane of its day. Actor Johnny Depp sat in this 1929 Ford Tri-Motor aircraft in 2009 during the filming of the movie “Public Enemies.”

Ford Motor Company built 199 of the airliners from 1926 to 1933. A total of 18 still exist and many of those are in museums and only SIX still fly. This vintage plane is owned and operated by the EAA in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. All proceeds from 15-minute rides benefit EAA programs for aviation education, government advocacy on topics that impact aviators, Young Eagles program, and Timeless Voices of Aviation which involve collecting and documenting thousands of first person video/oral history recordings from individuals who have impacted aviation’s development. Tickets for the flights can be purchased at St. Louis Downtown Airport starting Thursday, September 22, or online at The charge for a 15-minute ride aboard the 1929 Ford Tri-Motor is $70.

On Thursday afternoon, Carl “Chub” Wheeler will be taking a ride on the 1929 Ford Tri-Motor plane in celebration of his 100th birthday. Wheeler used to fly a Tri-Motor and was a U.S. Army Air Corps instructor pilot who taught hundreds of pilots to fly for World War II at the airport in Cahokia. Wheeler went on to serve as airport manager in the 1950’s and he is currently a volunteer and a Board member for the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum.

In conjunction with the Ford Tri-Motor event, there will also be a car show on Sunday, Sept. 25 at the airport. Owners of classic automobiles are invited to participate even if they are not a member of a car club. A 1929 Rolls Royce will be on display Thursday afternoon for the arrival of the Ford Tri-Motor airliner.

The Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum located at the St. Louis Downtown Airport will host several activities including a Tent Swing Dance Under the Stars on Saturday evening. The Museum is housed in historic hangar number 2 built in 1929.

More information on the Ford Tri-Motor event at St. Louis Downtown Airport is available at or by calling 618-337-6060.

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