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Transcontinental Air Transport Ford F-5AT Tri-Motor


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historical significance

First Albuquerque Visit:    1929

SKU: Model-0123 Categories: ,

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The Ford Tri-motor, nicknamed the “Tin Goose”, is an American three-engine transport aircraft. Production began in 1925 by the companies of Henry Ford and ended on June 7, 1933 after 199 aircraft were built. The aircraft was designed for the civil aviation market but also saw service with military units. In 1925, Ford bought the Stout Metal Airplane Company and their aircraft designs. The single-engine Stout monoplane was turned into a trimotor and became the Stout 3-AT with three Curtiss-Wright air-cooled radial engines. After a prototype was built and test-flown with poor results, the “4-AT” and “5-AT” models then emerged. The model 5-AT-B was a 5-AT-A model powered by larger 420 hp Wasp C-1 or SC-1 radial engines. It carried up to 15 passenger and 41 were eventually built.

Transcontinental Air Transport, “TAT”, began operations on July, 7, 1929 with the first scheduled airline route across the United States. Based in New York City, the carrier used a fleet of Ford F-5AT tri-motor aircraft and worked with two railroad companies to provide a service from New York to Los Angeles in roughly 48 hours, half the time it took to travel completely by train. The first westbound service began on the night of July 7, 1929 using the Pennsylvania Railroad from New York to Columbus, Ohio then switching to an aircraft on the morning of July 8. The aircraft flew from Columbus to Waynoka, Oklahoma with stops in Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Wichita. At Waynoka passengers then boarded the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad for a second overnight trip to Clovis, New Mexico. The first westbound trip was then completed by air from Clovis to the Glendale airport in Los Angeles on July 9 making stops in Albuquerque as well as at Winslow and Kingman, Arizona. Travel by train at night was necessary due to navigational aids for air travel had not been yet established at that time. The first eastbound trip began from Glendale on the morning of July 8 and was scheduled to follow the same route but had to overfly Albuquerque on its maiden flight due to local weather conditions. Therefore the first eastbound and first westbound flights through Albuquerque both occurred on July 9, 1929. This new air/rail service was made possible with the assistance of Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh who made the first historic solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean two years prior. TAT hired Lindbergh as their technical advisor and Lindbergh determined the route that the airline would follow. On November 16, 1929, TAT merged with Maddux Air Lines of California which extended flights northward from Los Angeles to San Francisco with stops in Bakersfield and Fresno, California. Service was also extended southward to San Diego and Agua Caliente Mexico. The carrier then became known as TAT-Maddux Air Lines. Maddux had begun operating on July 21, 1927 with the Los Angeles to San Diego route.

Transcontinental Air Transport Inc., “TAT”, began the first transcontinental passenger service with a stop in Albuquerque on July 8, 1929. The 48-hour journey from Los Angeles to New York required travelling by air on the Ford tri-motor during the two days and traveling by Pullman train during the two nights. This established Albuquerque as one of the main ports of call on the airways of the United States. Among the aircraft that landed here were NC9646, “City of Columbus” NC9606, NC9545, “City of Wichita” NC9643, and the “City of Albuquerque” which was christened 06/24/1929. TAT was merged with a division of Western Air Express in 1930 and the new combined venture became Transcontinental and Western Air, or “TWA”. In February 1988 a restored tri-motor painted with TAT markings and sponsored by the TWA museum in Kansas City stopped in Albuquerque while on tour.

Pictured below is believed to be the first TAT Ford tri-motor flight at the original Albuquerque Airport (Oxnard Field) on July 9, 1929.

The restored Ford Tri-Motor that landed here while on a 20th anniversary tour in 1949.

Another restored Ford Tri-Motor in TAT markings that landed here while on a 50th anniversary tour in 1979.