Scottsdale, AZ, September 30, 2008 -– As the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company prepares for its inaugural Las Vegas auction on Oct. 15-18, 2008, the company is already making waves for its 2009 event in Scottsdale, Ariz. One of the many highlights of the 38th annual automotive lifestyle event on Jan. 11-18, 2009, will be the No Reserve sale of a historic 1929 Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor airplane that was hit by bullets during the World War II surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. Recently restored to original specifications, the aircraft will make its final flight today before the sale when it departs from Petersburg, Va., in route to Goldsboro, N.C.
The Ford Tri-Motor will take off from Dinwiddie County Airport in Petersburg at 9 a.m. EDT. It is scheduled to arrive at Goldsboro Air Center inside Goldsboro-Wayne Municipal Airport at 10:30 a.m. EDT. Dolph Overton III, owner of the Tri-Motor and former ace for the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, will be awaiting the plane’s arrival with his family in Goldsboro. His son, Dolph Overton IV, will co-pilot the aircraft alongside legendary air show pilot Jimmy Leeward.
“Ford’s Tri-Motor airplanes played a very important role in creating the modern transportation system,” said Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. “Just as he put America on wheels with the Model T ‘Tin Lizzie,’ Henry Ford created the Tri-Motor ‘Tin Goose’ airplane to help the general public realize the benefits of air travel. This particular plane has a wonderful history and everyone who loves both automobiles and aviation will be touched by its story.”
Henry Ford recognized the potential for mass air transportation after World War I and created the Tri-Motor “Tin Goose” to promote air travel. To overcome concerns of engine reliability, Ford specified three engines and added features for passenger comfort, such as an enclosed cabin. Ford Motor Company built 199 Tri-Motors from 1926 through 1933.
The Tri-Motor that will be sold at Barrett-Jackson began its historic journey in 1929 in Spokane, Wash., where it served as a passenger plane for Mamer Flying Service. It was later sold to K-T Flying Service of Honolulu and was at Pearl Harbor during the surprise military strike by the Japanese navy against the United States on Dec. 7, 1941. The Tri-Motor suffered exterior bullet holes during the attack but was quickly repaired and returned to service.
Upon returning to the mainland, it was leased by Trans World Airlines in 1949 for its 20th anniversary celebration, modified into a sprayer and fire fighting tanker and used by Johnson Flying Service in Montana to drop smoke jumpers and supplies to fire fighters. Since 1969, the plane has been privately owned and was part of the Wings and Wheels museum collection previously located in Orlando, FL.
Bob Woods supervised the majority of the Tri-Motor’s restoration at Woods Aviation in Goldsboro. This was a no-compromise restoration in which the airframe was reworked, a new interior installed and the exterior completely re-skinned. The wings were reworked and re-skinned by expert craftsman Maurice Hovious of Hov-Aire in Vicksburg, Mich. The landing gear, including the unique Johnson bar braking system, is complete and original. The original straight-laced wire wheels are fitted with tires that were re-sculpted to replicate the correct profile and tread pattern of the period. The wood paneling of the interior was also re-created. In order to match the condition of the plane when it was delivered by Ford in 1929, there were no modern avionics or communications gear added.
The plane will be sold at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale event on Saturday, Jan. 17, during Speeds’s primetime coverage.
“Barrett-Jackson has been on the cutting-edge of embracing new markets at the right time,” added Davis. “We have sold some of the most significant vehicles in the world, so it makes perfect sense to sell such an important piece of aeronautical history. Vintage planes, similar to the historic automobiles that cross our block, represent an incredible snapshot into our past and evoke passion and appreciation from collectors.”