Historic plane lands in Tallahassee

Posted at 6:15 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 14:39:27-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A historic airplane has landed in the Capital City giving riders a chance to take a flight of a lifetime.

In the early 1900s, airplanes had open cabins that exposed passengers to the elements. Luckily, that all changed with the introduction of the Ford Tri-Motor airplane.

"When this airplane came out, enclosing the cabin like that and putting a little heat in there, you could actually start scheduled airline service," said Colin Soucy, the captain of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Ford Tri-Motor. "This is the first airline manufactured in the United States. The first airplane that was used as an airliner."

A total of 199 of these tri-motor plans were made, but only about 10 of them are still able to carry passengers. Though at a top speed of 90 miles per hour, and only five hours worth of gas on board, these planes do more sightseeing than anything.

"The visibility is a lot better. It's really good for sightseeing. It was not so good for airline service. It's a fun ride. You get to look out and experience the sights and sounds of 1928," said Soucy. "Passengers really love it. They always come back with a big smile on their face just because you can see with the huge picture windows on both sides."

Everyone on an airplane has their favorite spot, but some aren't a fan of the crowded cabins. In the tri-motor plane, overcrowding isn't an issue.

"We operate with ten passengers, and two pilots. There's plenty of room," explains Soucy. "This plane even actually has leg room. Like I said, big windows so you can stretch out and enjoy the flight."

One passenger, James Barclay was lucky enough to enjoy the ride from the co-pilot's seat, which was just as roomy as the rest of the plane.

"It's a tight fit, but once you slipped in and got comfortable, there was more than enough room," says Barclay.

For him, this ride was more than just sightseeing in a historic plane. Barclay was able to relive memories on this flight.

"When I was a child in the tropics, I remember flying on a Tri-Motor which used a golf course as a runway," remembers James Barclay, an Instrument-rated pilot, and retired lawyer. "I heard the passengers talking and chatting and enjoying themselves. It really came. It was a great memory."

When not in use, this historic plane returns to Ohio as a part of the Liberty Aviation Museum, with proceeds from the flight going to that museum and conditioning of the Tri-Motor plane.

The Ford Tri-Motor will be in town until Sunday at the airport. Reservations are not needed, but tickets cost anywhere from $50 to $75 a person. All ages are welcome aboard. The experience lasts about half an hour, with 15 minutes of that cruising over Tallahassee at 1,000 feet. 

More information can be found at

Find the full list of tour stops here.