Want to fly in a 1920s plane? Here’s your chance

Visitors get a close-up look at a Ford Tri-Motor Airliner during the plane's 2012 visit to the Shelby County Airport. The plane will return to Shelby County in May. (File)

Visitors get a close-up look at a Ford Tri-Motor Airliner during the plane’s 2012 visit to the Shelby County Airport. The plane will return to Shelby County in May. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

For the second time in four years, the Shelby County Airport will welcome a piece of aviation history in mid-May, and you can take a ride in it.

From May 15-18, the airport near the Alabaster-Calera line will host a blue and silver 1929 Ford Tri-Motor commercial airplane restored by the Experimental Aircraft Association. The visit will be hosted by EAA Chapter 825, which is based at the Shelby County Airport.

“We are very excited about this. We had a great reception last time,” EAA member Johnny Ward said during a phone interview, noting a Tri-Motor has only visited the Shelby County Airport twice in the past 50 years.

The airplane will offer flights to the public on May 15 from 2-5 p.m. and on May 16-18 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Advance tickets are available at Flytheford.org or by calling 877-952-5395, and are $70 for adults and $50 for children 17 and younger.

Walk-up tickets will also be available the days of the airplane’s visits for $75 apiece.

The Tri-Motor airplane features three 450-horsepower engines, and served as a commercial airliner in the late 1920s and early1930s. It helped fight forest fires in Idaho and Montana in the 1940s, and toured around the country offering rides to the public in the 1960s and early 1970s.

EAA restored the plane over a 12-year period after it was heavily damaged in a storm in 1973.

During the Tri-Motor’s visit to Shelby County in 2012, its pilot said the plane was designed to mimic the look of train passenger cars of the late 1920s. The aluminum-bodied plane’s interior featured leather seats, large windows, wood accents and reading lights for each passenger.