Ford Trimotor

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Primary Function:
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Weight Empty:
Max. Weight:
Fuel Capacity:
Cruise Speed:
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P&W radials
3 x 420 hp ea.
7,840 lbs.
13,500 lbs.
1,380 lbs.
50' 3"
77' 10"
90 mph
150 mph
950 fpm
16,000 feet
560 miles

Ford Trimotor

Ford Trimotor

When first flown in 1925 the Ford Trimotor represented a leap forward in commercial aviation.

The fuselage, wings, and control surfaces of the Ford Trimotor featured corrugated aluminum construction. It had greater speed, payload, and range than comparable aircraft of its day and earned a reputation for reliability and ease of maintenance.

The Ford Trimotor introduced air service from New York to California, and later flew into Latin America. Eventually the aircraft were sold to operators throughout the world. In addition to the transportation of passengers, the seats in the Ford Trimotor could be removed for mail and cargo handling.

The Ford Trimotor made history when, on Nov. 29, 1929, it made a round trip of over eighteen hours to fly over the South Pole and back to its Antarctica landing field. The aircraft was modified to carry extra fuel, and had a larger, more powerful engine in its nose.

Piloting the Ford Trimotor is quite an experience. Just the thought that you are in an aircraft that first flew over eighty years ago will leave you grinning broadly.

In a Ford Trimotor things happen at a leisurely pace. Acceleration during take off is slow. However, the aircraft will get off of the ground at about 65 mph.

You may want to do some weight training before attempting to take over the controls. Although the elevator control force is moderate, it takes some muscle to turn the aircraft using rudder and elevator. Coordinating turns can be challenging because, when moderate aileron deflection is applied, the aircraft will try to roll in the opposite direction.

Monitoring the engine gauges of the Ford Trimotor takes a bit of getting used to. Instead of being in the cockpit, they are mounted on the engines.

Not known for its fuel economy, the three engines of the Trimotor consume between 45 and 50 gph of fuel.  While the corrugated aluminum skin of the aircraft adds strength to the structure, it also contributes to drag.

A total of 199 Ford Trimotor aircraft of all types were produced from 1926 to 1933. A number were still flying for commercial carriers through 1962.

Today Ford Trimotor aircraft are on exhibit throughout the world, but only a handful continue to fly.

Ford Trimotor - Joachim Damrath

Ford Trimotor

The Ford Trimotor scratch built by Joachim Damrath is of all wood construction.  It has a 13 foot wingspan with a weight of around 53 lbs.  Power comes from a pair of Zenoah 20 cc engines under the wings and a Zenoah 26 cc engine in the nose.