Little Ford, a vintage Tri-Motor, takes to the sky at Oshkosh – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com
During my recent visit to Oshkosh, I managed to secure a ticket to fly in the oldest aircraft I have ever stepped onboard. On a grey and cool Tuesday morning at Oshkosh, I hiked from the main gate over to the Warbird Alley flight line to line up for a scenic flight onboard ’œLittle Ford’, a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor (Model 4-AT-E).
Little Ford (NC8407) was built in 1929 and was frame #146 from the Ford Aircraft factory. Sold to Eastern Air Transport (later Eastern Airlines), it served for three years before heading over the Straits of Florida to operate for Cubana on its new Santiago de Cuba to Havana route. Before returning back to the U.S., it served as presidential transport for the Dominican Republic as well. During the 1950’s, the aircraft was upgraded with higher-horsepower engines, becoming the most powerful 4-AT ever flown.
EAA AirVenture is more commonly known as Oshkosh – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com
In July of 2012, I saw my twitter feed explode from all of the #OSH12 tweets. After a week getting insanely jealous of everyone, I decided that for 2013 I would be going to the EAA AirVenture show. I managed to get myself to Oshkosh from July 28th through August 3rd, which enabled me to see a large portion of the show.
I really only missed out on the mass arrivals on the 27th and the final night show on the 3rd; I could live with that. This was my first time at Oshkosh, so I was given a whole range of tips from fellow AirlineReporter.com correspondent Howard, who had attended a few years prior. He also set me up with a contact at EAA for a tour of the grounds, which was helpful, since it can be a bit overwhelming.
One of the HondaJets prepares for takeoff at EAA Airventure in Oshkosh – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com
An unusual-looking business jet made an appearance at OshKosh 2013 and was followed in by a second identical aircraft. What were these unfamiliar aircraft? They were the third and fifth FAA-conforming HA-420 HondaJets, appearing for the first time together.
A uniquely-designed aircraft, the HondaJet will enter the small business jet market once the final rounds of FAA certification and testing are completed, estimated in 2014. Designed to carry six people (1 or 2 crew, along with 4 or 5 passengers), this small, light jet is a mixture of cutting-edge design, state-of-the-art technology, and a few new concepts to make it an expected class-leading aircraft.
The two examples flown to AirVenture were frame numbers 3 & 5, of a 6 aircraft-test fleet. Frame number 3, which joined the test program in 2011, is being used for mechanical systems testing, while aircraft number 5 has the first production-fitted interior and should anchor the final tests. Seeing the two aircraft side-by-side at Oshkosh on the very first day attracted quite a large crowd – including me.