Help build a real “Tin Goose” … and fly in it!

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I stopped by the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton this week and talked with Chief Mechanic Doug Moore.

He and his volunteers are doing a ground-up restoration of a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor plane. They plan to fly it … and you can help.

Liberty Aviation Museum

Ground-up restoration of Ford Tri-Motor “Tin Goose” at Liberty Aviation Museum

What’s a Tin Goose, and why’s it here?
Maybe all of our pilots in the area knew this already, but I never fully understood the area’s “Tin Goose” connection.

“Tin Goose” is a nickname for the Ford Tri-Motor plane – the first all-metal “commercial” plane designed in 1926. It was produced by car manufacturer Henry Ford, creator of the “Tin Lizzie” Ford Model-T, the first affordable car.

In addition to it’s metal construction, Moore said the “Tin Goose” name may also refer to the way the plane taxis back and forth on the runway, looking like a waddling goose.

The Erie-Ottawa County Airport (once Island Airlines) used Ford Tri-Motor planes to fly passengers to the Lake Erie Islands from the 1930s to the 1980s. Read this wonderful first-person account of a 1960s flight to the islands aboard a Tin Goose.

A Ford Tri-Motor "Tin Goose" at Port Clinton's airport in 1952. Image courtesy Ottawa Co. Museum.

A Ford Tri-Motor “Tin Goose” at Port Clinton’s airport in 1952. Image courtesy Ottawa Co. Museum.

Rebuilding piece by piece
The Ford Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation purchased the parts of a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor plane and a local chapter of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) is rebuilding the plane.

“You have to own the original plane in order to restore it” said Moore, who explained they are using “reverse engineering” to reconstruct the plane.  With original (and mostly inoperable) Ford Tri-Motor parts on loan, Moore and his team study their construction in order to build new parts.

Liberty Aviation Museum

Original Ford Tri-Motor wing for study and restoration

Volunteers come on Monday and Thursday nights and Moore provides training.

“Anyone with a steady hand or familiarity with tools is welcome” (including responsible middle and high school students), he said.

“It’s gonna fly!”
Tom Hilton, a volunteer, said they plan to fly this plane once its finished and visitors to the museum will be able to purchase tickets to fly in the small passenger plane.

Lots happening at the Museum
Did you know the Erie-Ottawa airport holds two aviation “records”? GM Jeff Sondles says it’s the country’s longest running airline offering uninterrupted service and it’s known as the world’s shortest flight.

The Liberty Aviation Museum (map) has all kinds of cool events coming up. Check out their updated website:

Follow me if you’d like to hear about fun things to do and see along Lake Erie’s shores and islands.

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