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Aviation History: Ford Tri-Motors Traditional Geocache

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Hidden : 01/01/2013
2.5 out of 5
2 out of 5

Size: Size:   micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:

In November 1928 a Ford Tri-Motor airplane crashed a few hundred yards north of this cache location. More details about the crash can be found at GC43HE1.

Aviation History: Ford Tri-Motors

Spokane Airways, Inc. and Mamer Flying Service, both located in Spokane, were the first providers of air transportation service starting in 1928 from Chicago and Minneapolis to Spokane and from Spokane and other Northwest cities such as Portland, Seattle and Pasco. To provide passenger and cargo hauling service three Ford Tri-Motor aircraft were purchased for service out of Spokane. One crashed within days. A second crashed about 5 years later. The third one amazingly still flies and it is valued at over $1 Million. It is one of the oldest airline plane still capable of flying. Here are some interesting facts about the manufacturing of the Ford Tri-Motors and then a bit of information about life of each of those three planes.

The story of the Ford Tri-Motor airplanes began with William Stout, an aeronautical engineer who had previously designed several aircraft. Stout had designed a new plane using a new corrosion resistant aluminum skin. In the early 1920s Henry Ford, along with 19 other investors including his son, Edsel, invested in the Stout Metal Airplane Company. Henry Ford built a paved runway and a new manufacturing building and leased them to Stout. In 1925 Ford purchased the company from Stout and renamed it the Ford Airplane Company. The Company developed a three engine, all metal passenger aircraft, nicknamed "the Tin Goose," which could also be used to haul cargo since the seats could easily be removed. The plane was similar in design to the Fokker Tri-motor, and some say that Ford's engineers surreptitiously measured the Fokker plane and then copied it. However, this plane was the first all metal airplane and it was the first to be produced using Ford’s mass production methods. Between 1926 and 1933 there were 199 Tri-Motors built. In 1933 the Ford Airplane Division shut down because of poor sales during the great depression. Over 100 airline companies flew the Ford Tri-Motors.

The first of the three planes was delivered to Spokane Airways, Inc. in November 1928. Unfortunately that plane with the registration number of NC7687 crashed and was destroyed only a little more than a week after it arrived in Spokane. The crash happened a few hundred yards north of this cache location. For more details about this tragic accident see GC43HE1 Aviation History: I’ll see you in hell! The other two Tri-Motors that came to Spokane in 1929 were originally purchased by Mamer Flying Service.

West Wind II. Photographed at Bonners Ferry, Idaho in 1929.

A second airplane delivered to Spokane on July 10, 1929 was named "West Wind II” and registered as NC8403. It was sold in May 1934 to Ptarmigan Airlines. Six month later in, October 1934, aircraft crashed as it landed in crosswind conditions while carrying a heavy load of tractor parts at Flat, Alaska. In 1989 it was recovered from the crash area and moved to the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum in Anchorage. In 2005 it was shipped to Minnesota where it is awaiting restoration.

West Wind I. Photographed at Felts Field in 1929.

The third plane, "West Wind I" and registered as NC9612 has a unique history. On March 30, 1929 it was delivered as a new passenger plane to Mamer Flying Service. It was later sold to K-T Flying Service of Honolulu and was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It was damaged during the attack but not to the point of destruction. In 1946 the plane was brought back to the mainland by a private owner. Following it’s restoration it was leased by TWA and was painted up as "The City of Los Angeles." The plane was flown extensively in July 1949 in celebration of the 20th anniversary of TWA's first transcontinental flight. In 1952 the plane then went to an agricultural operator in Idaho and was modified as a crop sprayer and also as one of the pioneer forest fire fighting air tankers. Beginning in 1957 Johnson Flying Service in Montana flew it for several years to drop Smoke Jumpers and supplies to fire fighters. From 1969 to 2009 the plane was privately owned and fully restored. It was part of the Wings and Wheels museum collection in North Carolina. In 2009 it was sold in Las Vegas at the Barrett- Jackson Auction to an investor for $1,210,000. The plane now is part of a collection of vintage airplanes owned by an investor in Chandler, Arizona. This plane, which is pictured below after renovation, is in the select company of only about six Ford Tri-Motors that still fly after almost 85 years. It is one of the oldest flying passenger planes in the world!

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Terra ovfba ghor unatvat ba n oenapu fvk srrg bss gur tebhaq nobhg fvk gb rvtug srrg abegu bs gur srapr ba gur Fubcxb. fvqr.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)