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Ford Tri-Motor Tours Come To South Dakota

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Airplanes have come a long way since a pair of brothers changed the world on the beaches of Kitty Hawk. They can flip, break the sound barrier, and carry hundreds of passengers around the world. The grandfather of long distance commercial flight is the Ford Tri-Motor. And Thursday, dozens of people in Yankton got the chance to step back in time and take a flight on an 84 year old plane.


It's a much slower ride but once you take to the skies, there's nothing that quite compares. Big open windows give passengers panorama views from 500 hundred feet up.


“The view is just fantastic. Unlike modern airplanes where you're so far up in the air that you don't see anything. To see the town of Yankton, to see the Missouri River, it’s really exciting stuff,” said Doug Partington.


The Ford Tri-Motor holds about 10 passengers at a time and Travels about 85 miles per hour. But, without this plane, modern passenger flight might be completely different.


“Everything you take for granted today when you get on an airliner to go anywhere was worked out on the old Tri Motor,” said Pilot Ashley Messenger.  


Captain Ashley Messenger has been touring the country with the Experimental Aircraft Association for the past 3 summers and has no problem sharing a story or two about his 84 year old plane.


“It started the airline industry in the United States as we know it,” said Messenger.


The Ford Tri-Motor was built in 1929 and was actually used as air force one for the Dominican Republic in the 1940’s. And some people come a long way to get a ride on this plane.


“We've come 16,000 kilometers to fly in the ford and it was probably the most enjoyable airplane experience I've ever had,” said Australia Native Partington.


For Ford fanatic, nothing beats a trip on this air born museum piece. 


“Just something you have to do. This was the top of the bucket list and I can tick the box,” said Partington.  


A few bumps while landing. But, a 20 minute flight, changes a life.  


“Well, it completes the dream. It completes the Ford dream. I've read all about it. I've seen all about them. I've seen them in the movies and now I've done it. And it feels absolutely fantastic,” said Partington.


A machine kept in running shape for 80 plus years, continues to wow passengers with the magic of flight.


The Ford Tri-Motor will be in Mitchell on June 24th-26th and in Aberdeen from June 27th-30th.  

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