Vintage airplane giving rides in Idaho Falls through Memorial Day weekend

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IDAHO FALLS — It’s a blast from the past — the luxury flight of the ’20s, the Ford Tri-Motor, is touring the country and has made a stop in Idaho Falls.

Experimental Aviation Association No. 407 Chapter President Natalie Bergevin says locals are lucky to have the 91-year-old aircraft in east Idaho. The plane was last here about three years ago.

“We’re really excited to have it again. Oshkosh (Wisconsin, where EAA is based) is pleased with Idaho, so they were in Nampa last weekend and then they’ve come to Idaho Falls,” Bergevin says.

Bergevin says many EAA chapters don’t get to experience the Tri-Motor. The town it’s coming to has to be on the same route as the tour, and the plane must be in a hanger overnight, which causes limitations for some chapters, she says.

Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

“We’ve lucked out and been on that route a couple of times. We’re excited to have it, and it’s so much fun to ride in,” Bergevin says.

She says the plane is housed in the a large hanger at Aero Mark.

“It’s a really awesome antique airplane that’s still flying. It’s an awesome experience to have a ride in it and have the nostalgia of that time period,” Bergevin says.

Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

EAA has two Tri-Motors touring, but there are about six Tri-Motors still flying.

Volunteer pilot Rand Siegfried says he’s been flying the Tri-Motor for 12 years.

“This is a piece of history. … this is transportation that your grandparents or maybe great-grandparents would have flown on back in the day,” Siegfried says.

Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

The Tri-Motor was built for commercial purposes and was known as the first luxury airliner, meaning it could carry many passengers.

“This was built to haul people, so when you come inside it looks like the train car of an era. … that’s what they designed it after,” Siegfried says.

Less than 200 Ford Tri-Motors were built between 1926 and 1933. As of 2008, 18 Ford Tri-Motors were estimated to still be in existence.

Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

“I love the smiles that I get from everybody when they get off the airplane,” Siegfried says. “It’s really heartwarming to know that people are coming out and spending their time but getting a good experience.”

The Tri-Motor has a metal construction. The comfortable ride can hold about 12 people and gets up to a little over 80 miles per hour.

“This is Memorial Day weekend. What a great part of history this is because we’re trying to remember, and this is a good weekend to think about those things,” Bergivin says.

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