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Saturday
Dec292012

Short Story: How Big Would A Ford Tri-Motor Be If You...

(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 : )


(click pic to enlarge) Just how big would she be if you flattened out the corrugations?!
 

 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


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Reader Comments (7)

Martt:
Your Bushmaster 2000 link above leads to a paintball gun.
The Wikipedia link for the "real" Bushmaster 2000 is
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stout_Bushmaster_2000

December 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterairpigz lurker

airpigz lurker- Fixed! Thank you : )

December 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

I was very privileged to get to ride in a Ford Tri-Motor about 10 years ago at an airshow. My only complaint was the ride was way too short!

December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCy

I'd think that the Tri Motor would at least double in size? Seems like all those corrugations would have to add a lot to the total surface area of the airplane skin...interesting question!

I know a guy who's great at math. I'll have to run this by him.

December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Cy- yeah that's pretty much always the case... tho I will say that any opportunity to ride in an airplane from the 1920's is pretty amazing regardless of how long or short the ride is. I'm glad you had the chance.

Ben- certainly seems like it. I didn't look on the net, but the dimensions of the skin might be available somewhere.

December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

I am the lead volunteer in the Frontiers of Flight model shop in Dallas Texas.
We are currently building a 1/8 scale model of 4AT-15 the a/c that Admiral Byrd flew over the south pole. We have not gotten to the point of preparing markings yet, but have made a calculation of how much longer/wider we need to make them due to the corrugations. I was actually a bit surprised the find that the difference between the flat sheet and corrugated sheet was only about 16%. But, oh my, how much strength that corrugation provides. You can see our build at http://www.flightmuseum.com/donate/model-shop-projects/?show=gallery

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGary

Gary - thanx for the 16% info, and I'll keep watch for more pix on that great model you guys are building!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

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