(click pic to enlarge) 1929 Ford Tri-Motor N414H at NAHI 2012 in Reno last September
This is the first post in a new and occasional series called 'short story'. None too surprising, these will be short little stories that hopefully are bigger on interest and intrigue than they are on words. Here we go...
I was incredibly fortunate as a teen to get to know Chuck LeMaster from Ottawa Kansas, a man who had a very interesting life associated with several unique aircraft, including at least two antique Ford Tri-Motors and one of only two modernized Fords known as the Bushmaster 2000. In 1976, when I was 15 years old, Chuck offered me the chance to go along and help his crew as they journeyed to the Dayton Air Show and then Oshkosh '75 to sell rides in his fabulous Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor, N414H.
(click pic to enlarge) Corrugated aluminum skin: Ford Tri-Motor N414H at NAHI 2012
It was late July and we were at the Dayton Air Show as a steady stream of people stood in line to buy their tickets to ride in this grand ole antique aircraft. The Dayton event was a little different crowd than we'd have at Oshkosh. There were more general public people at Dayton, many who just had a very passing interest in aviation. As a crewmember who did whatever little tasks were needed, I spent most of my time during operating hours answering questions for the people in the line and keeping them moving to the point where they would empty their wallets.
When you deal with several thousand people over a busy weekend airshow you wind up interacting with all kinds... and you hear all kinds of questions. Good questions, bad questions, and for me, at least one that I'll never forget. One woman in line was very serious when she wondered just how big a Ford Tri-Motor would be if you flattened out all the corrugations in the metal skin! We'd definitely never heard that one before! It was actually an interesting question, the kind a guy like me with a slightly twisted mind actually found pretty interesting. Even more interesting to me that it came from a woman. I give her high marks for really getting a grip on what that metal skin looked in cross section : )
I never took the time to figure out just how much taller the fuselage and how much longer the wings would be if you could flatten the ole girl out. Most likely I never will. But I will never ever forget the most interesting (and odd) question asked about N414H.
I'll add that the very first entry in my very first logbook is for 5.0 hours of dual received (Ford Tri-Motor introduction xc) from Dayton Ohio to Oshkosh Wisconsin on 7-26-76 in N414H. The entry is signed by CFI Charles A. LeMaster. Wow... Thanx Chuck, I'll never ever forget that either!
NOTE: N414H is the only Ford Tri-Motor in the world you can get type rated! Learn more at FordTypeRatings.com