Vintage airliner flies over SuperiorNicholas Winterscheidt’s smile said it all. The 5-year-old raced out of the vintage Ford airplane Thursday with a grin on his face.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Nicholas Winterscheidt’s smile said it all. The 5-year-old raced out of the vintage Ford airplane Thursday with a grin on his face.
“I wasn’t scared on the airplane,” he shouted to his grandfather, Heinz.
The Superior boy said his favorite part of the 15-minute flight was “the whole thing.”
“I saw the river, the whole sky,” Nicholas said.
The boy flew with his father, Paul.
“He’s been wanting to go flying since he could talk,” he said of the 5-year-old.
The 1929 Ford Tri-Motor took roost at Superior’s Richard I. Bong Airport Thursday, courtesy of the Experimental Aircraft Association. It will be offering rides to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today-Monday. The nine-seat passenger airplane, nicknamed the “Tin Goose,” was the world’s first mass-produced airliner. Nearly 200 were built in the 1920s, and they paved the way for air travel today.
“You don’t get to see these things anymore,” said Bill Irving, president of the EAA’s Duluth-Superior Chapter. “There’s not many left.”
The 82-year-old airplane is still flying
“It’s actually flying better and more reliably” then when it was new, said chapter Secretary Al White, due to some newer 1950s engines. The plane, which is owned by the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Mich., also sports an updated paint job from the 1930s or 40s.
A Superior gift gave nine students from the Mentor Duluth program wings Thursday. Sue Vinje Trucking Vice President Ryan Fraly purchased a sponsorship valued at $1,500 and generously donated all nine seats with the stipulation that deserving kids be allowed to experience the flight.
One of the young people who took wing was 14-year-old Joe Pelosi of Duluth. He, too, left the plane with a smile on his face.
“It was awesome,” he told his mother, Heather. “I liked that you could see everything.” With the plane only 1,000 feet off the ground, he was able to pinpoint homes he used to live in and get birds-eye view snapshots of Nemadji Golf Course and Barker’s Island. He recommended the flight to anyone, even people afraid of heights. The seats were comfortable and the engine noise wasn’t too loud, he said, although it doesn’t have a rest room.
“Just try it,” Joe said. “It’s totally worth it.”
Anyone is invited to stop by the airport to see the Ford Tri-Motor as well as other planes owned by EAA members, including White’s fiberglass Dyke Delta JD-2, which Irving calls “the batplane.”
“It’s a 50-year-old design, but it still draws a crowd wherever I go,” White said.
Taking a peek is free. Rides are $80 for adults, $40 for children ages 6-17 and free to children 5 and under with a paying guardian. A portion of the proceeds will go to the local EAA chapter to fund scholarships and youth trips to the Air Academy Leadership Camp in Oshkosh.
Members of the community are invited to stop back at the Superior airport Sept. 8. The day begins with the EAA chapter’s annual pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon. Tickets are $7 for adults, half price for kids and children age 5 and younger eat free. From 10 a.m. to noon, chapter members will be offering free Young Eagle flights for kids ages 8-17.
“As a chapter we’ve flown around 5,300 kids since 1992,” Irving said. “I’ve flown 720 kids myself.”
White said he might even take a few in his “bat plane.”
A parent or guardian must be present to sign children up for the free plane rides.
For more information about the 1929 Ford Tri-Motor flights, look up the website at www.airventuremuseum.org/fordtrimotor. Tickets can be booked online or call (877) 952-5395.