"This historically important aircraft has been restored to an extraordinarily high standard. Survived the attack at Pearl Harbor, used at the TWA 20th Anniversary celebration, carried Smoke Jumpers in Montana and has been part of Wings and Wheels museum.
This 1929 Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor, registered NC9612, has a unique and storied history. In 1929, it was delivered as a new passenger plane to Mamer Flying Service in Spokane, Washington. It was later sold to K-T Flying Service of Honolulu and was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 where it suffered superficial bullet holes from Japanese strafing. Brought back to the mainland in 1946, it was leased by TWA for their 1949 20th Anniversary celebration. It then went to an agricultural operator in Idaho and was modified to a sprayer and also as one of the pioneer forest fighting air tankers. Johnson Flying Service in Montana flew it for several years to drop Smoke Jumpers and supplies to fire fighters. Since 1969 the plane has been privately owned, hangared and was part of the Wings and Wheels museum collection previously located in Orlando, FL.
This was a no concession, no compromise restoration in which the airframe was reworked, a new interior installed and the exterior completely re-skinned, with most work being performed under the supervision of Master Restorer Bob Woods of Woods Aviation in Goldsboro, NC. The wings were reworked and re-skinned by expert craftsman Maurice Hovious of Hov-Aire in Vicksburg, Michigan. The landing gear, including the unique Johnson bar braking system, is complete and original. The original straight-laced wire wheels have tires that were re-sculpted to replicate the correct profile and tread pattern of the period. The wood paneling of the interior has been skillfully re-created. There are no modern avionics or communications gear - just what came with the plane when it was delivered from the Ford factory in January of 1929. Exhaustive efforts were made to ensure originality in every detail with assistance from Tim O'Callaghan of the Henry Ford Museum and American Aircraft Historian Bill Larkins, author of "The Ford Tri-Motor" book. Also assisting were Retired Eastern Airlines Captain Bob Beitel and Retired Admiral Witte Freeman of the Virginia Aviation Museum. This plane has no accident history. The restoration has been completed with authentic markings for TAT as a tribute to the historic first air/rail route across the United States by Transcontinental Air Transport in 1929. This is the second time that this plane has been used for this purpose, as TWA painted it in a similar fashion for their 20th Anniversary national tour in 1949. In November, 2005 the Tri-Motor was flown from Goldsboro, NC to Richmond, VA where (until recently) it was on public display at the Virginia Aviation Museum. It has also graced the cover of the March, 2006 issue of "Trade-A-Plane". Seeing the plane personally speaks volumes to the many 'labors of love' by all the craftsmen who participated in its restoration. NC9612 has a majestic presence that is undeniable, and to see it on the ground or in the air is an unforgettable experience. JetAviator7
I sweep the skies with fire and steel My highway is the cloud I swoop, I soar, aloft I wheel My engine laughing loud I fight with gleaming blades the wind That dares dispute my path I leave the howling storm behind I ride upon it's wrath.
I laugh to see your tiny world Your toys of ships, your cars I rove an endless road unfurled Where the mile stones are the stars And far below, men wait and peer For what my coming brings I fill their quaking hearts with fear For death...is in my wings.
— Gordon Boshell, written after watching Battle of Britain dogfights from the streets of London.