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Chester County Press

New Garden Flying Field to host historic aircraft

05/31/2016 02:26PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

There was a time in America when being a passenger on an airplane was reason for a small celebration. Those who boarded came dressed for a wedding or a coronation, as if to reciprocate for being given the gift of a miracle that was still in its infancy.
One of those airplanes they boarded was the Ford Tri-Motor, created by Henry Ford and nicknamed “The Tin Goose,” which took its first flight in 1929. From June 9 to 12, those who attend “Fly Into History” at the New Garden Flying Field will be given a ride on that same airplane.
In association with the Flying Field and Garnet Ford of West Chester, EAA Chapter 240 is sponsoring a full weekend of flights aboard the historic aircraft, as well as several other activities and events. On June 10, wrapped around a full display of antique cars and historic aircraft, Chapter 240 will host a barbecue lunch and then a pot luck dinner early that evening, which will be followed by an evening of 1940s-era swing dancing in the flying field's main hangar, sponsored by Take The Lead Dance Studio.
On June 11 and 12, Chapter 240 will host its “increasingly famous” pancake breakfast to start the day, and offer tours of the chapter's hangar, followed by a barbecue dinner. The Flying Field's Future Aviators program will give kids a chance to get in the cockpit with flight simulator demonstrations, as well as show the Disney animated film, “Planes” at the Flying Field's new visitors center.
The 15- to 30-minute flights will take off from New Garden, head north toward Longwood Gardens, and then turn south toward Wilmington. The aircraft will then fly over the Delaware River and south toward the top of the Chesapeake Bay, and then return to the Flying Field.
From 1926 to 1933, Ford Motor Company built 199 Tri-Motors. In 1930, the Tri-Motor was leased to Cuban Airlines, where it inaugurated air service between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. The plane was later flown by the government of the Dominican Republic. By 1950, the plane was returned to the United States, served as a crop duster, and eventually became used for air show rides.
Representatives from Chapter 240 had been in conversation with the EAA national group in Wisconsin, who informed them that they had the opportunity to bring the Tri-Motor to New Garden as part of a country-wide tour.
“We want our passengers to appreciate history, for aircraft like this that have a real history to them, when they were built in the 1940s and used for training in the U.S. Air Force, giving pilots their first taste of aviation, which led them to jets, and later to fighting roles,” said Chapter 240 president Mike Parry. “It's a cycle of information that we consistently need to be putting in front of people.”
“The great thing about these flights will be that passengers won't just climb in the airplane,” said Chapter 240 vice president Bud Swenson. “They will have an opportunity to get a briefing about the plane, and what they're expected to see. It will be a flight of awareness.”
The event refelcts the New Garden Flying Field's recognition of aviation history.
“Everything we do, through the Young Aviators Camp, the EAA Chapter 240 and the Young Eagle flights, is about sharing our passion for flight,” said New Garden Flying Field manager Jon Martin. “It all started with someone going on a ride on an aircraft like the Ford Tri-Motor on a grass runway, so it's really no accident that we have a lot of vintage aircraft here to acknowledge that history.”
The “Fly Into History” event is just one part of a continuing series of activities planned for the Flying Field this year. It will serve as the host of the Chester County Balloon Festival from June 24 to 26; the Festival of Flight on Aug. 20 and 21; and the popular Future Aviators Camps in July and August.
“We've been working with Jon and Court Dunn – the head of the flight school – to form a triangular form of connection between the Flying Field, the flight school and Chapter 240,” Parry said. “We continue to keep the spiral of information going between the three of us. This year, we've started a youth program here at the chapter, to get children to understand the A-to-B points of navigation. It complements what Jon and Court are doing.”
The Ford Tri-Motor seats ten passengers. Flights are $70 for adults and $50 for children. Book in advance at, or at the event.
The New Garden Flying Field is at 1325 Newark Road, Toughkenamon. For more information, visit
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail

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