VENICE — Gary Corns scratched one off his bucket list Thursday when he briefly co-piloted a fully restored 1929 Ford Tri-Motor aircraft, called the “Tin Goose,” above the skies of Venice.
The ride was made courtesy of the Ford Tri-Motor Tour, which annually visits Venice Municipal Airport.
Rides are available until Monday.
Corns, owner of Colorado Auto Parts, made the flight from Littleton, Colorado, to Venice specifically for the ride.
His high school buddy, Jim Wunderlich, a Venice resident, Jim’s wife, Libby, along with Gary’s wife, Alice, gather together regularly.
The couples took a flight together on Thursday, with Libby as the designated ground photographer.
Corns was on a mission. He and his sons already retrofitted a 1939 silver Plymouth Radial Air pickup, powered by a vintage 1950’s 300 hp Jacobs (“Shaky Jake”) engine out of a Cessna seaplane he picked up in Denver.
Corns calls it a “magazine car,” a show-stopper that draws attention wherever it goes. He drives it only about 10 minutes at a time so it doesn’t overheat.
Corns came to Venice because wanted to feel what it was like to fly in a plane with the same type of radial engine he installed in his vintage pickup.
He and his Plymouth with its radial engine have been featured in Hot Rod magazine and on Jay Leno’s Garage twice. He’s shown it off at the Oshkosh Air Show.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is a premier gathering of aviation enthusiasts, held each summer at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
The 20-minute flight above Venice provided spectacular views of the area in a sparse 12-seater whose engines grinded loudly, and shook and dipped thanks to Thursday’s blustery but beautiful weather.
When Corns exited the aircraft, he walked up to a group of EAA volunteers and told them: “Well, it’s like this. I had to pilot the aircraft because …”
He was joking.
He later spoke of the experience.
“Unbelievable,” he later said. “I’d been wanting to research the Ford Tri-Motor for our 1938 Ford Coupe project, never dreaming I’d actually be behind the controls,” he said, thanking the pilot and the EAA.
He called it “an opportunity of a lifetime, sitting in the front of the Tin Goose.”
The next day Corns said he dreamt about the flight that night and planned on heading back to the airport Friday to take more photographs.
“I’ll incorporate some of the detail I saw in the Ford Tri-Motor,” Corns said. “I hope our Little Tin Goose Coupe sets next to a Tri-Motor plane in the near future.”
The vintage aircraft is one of 199 built from 1926-1933. The Ford Tri-Motor, which eeks out 80 mhp on a windless day, was doing around 60 mph on Thursday due to strong headwinds.
It made history as the first all metal, multi-engine commercial airliner.
It’s also credited with leading to the construction of the first airline terminal for passengers, and was the first regularly scheduled passenger airliner to operate.
The Ford Tri-Motor fleet led the the creation of the first paved runway and the first hotel designed and built for the air traveler, according to FlyTheFord.org.