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DEARBORN - On the morning of June 11, 1926, the new Ford Tri-Motor airplane was first successfully test flown at the Ford Airport under the command of test pilot R.W. Schroeder.
This impressive aircraft had a fuselage that was nearly 50 feet long, a wingspan of about 75 feet, and could transport up to 12 passengers at a top speed of over 160 miles per hour.
Henry Ford, Edsel Ford and a number of Ford executives at the time were on hand to witness the initial flight that lasted for 55 minutes.
Later in the afternoon that same day, the plane went up again for 45 minutes in front of a large crowd of Ford officials as well as representatives from the National Air Transport Company, the Colonial Airways Company, The Western Air Express and the Florida Airways Company.
The plane was designed with a safety factor particularly suitable for future passenger flights as well as freight work over territory which could not be covered easily by a single-engined planes.
One of the key features touted on the plane was the extreme field of vision provided to the pilot and mechanic, who sat in front of the cabin in advance of the wings. This allowed each to see in every direction which was ideal for bad weather or night flying.
Additionally, the landing gear was a new design that incorporated an attachment to the fuselage with rubber shock absorbing units.
From 1926 to 1933, Ford would produce 199 Tri-Motors that were sold to the military, cargo transport airlines and commercial passenger airlines.