Given the present uncertainty across the globe, where major sporting events, conventions and social gatherings are being curtailed due to well-founded health concerns, it should come as no surprise that there would be repercussions for aviation museums and the like. Both the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum and the Museum of Flight in the Seattle, Washington area have temporarily shuttered their doors to the public in the past week, and now we learn that the Experimental Aircraft Association has suspended touring their Ford Tri-Motor. Others are sure to follow. While it will be a struggle from an economic perspective, and many will need our support on the other side of this outbreak, these are serious times and must be respected as such. Be safe everyone…
The EAA’s press release, presented below, contains further details about when they hope to resume operations.
EAA FORD TRI-MOTOR TOUR TO STAND DOWN UNTIL MID-APRIL AS PRECAUTION
Tentative April 16 date for resumption of vintage airliner tour
EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — (March 12, 2020) — The national tour for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s 1929 Ford Tri-Motor aircraft will pause for one month in consideration of the current coronavirus/COVID-19 situation and the health of flight crew and passengers.
A tentative date for resumption of the tour is April 16 in Hickory, North Carolina, although the situation will be continually monitored for any changes. The month-long suspension of the Tri-Motor tour will cancel planned stops in Gainesville, Florida (March 19-22); Apalachicola, Florida (March 26-29); and Milledgeville, Georgia (April 2-5).
“As much as EAA thoroughly enjoys bringing the history of early aviation to communities through our Ford Tri-Motor’s national tours, the health and safety of our guests, crews, and volunteers is the top priority,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “Given the uncertainty of the situation throughout the country regarding the transmission of the coronavirus, we made the decision to pause the tour at this time and begin again next month.”
All pre-booked flight reservations are being fully refunded.
EAA’s national Tri-Motor tours feature the 1929 Ford 4-AT-E, which has a colorful history. It has served as an airliner for Eastern Air Transport, a Cuban airline, and the government of the Dominican Republic. The airplane has also had roles in two movies — The Family Jewels (1965) starring Jerry Lewis, and Public Enemies (2009), starring Johnny Depp.
The airplane has been taken on tour annually since 1991. More information on the aircraft and tour is available at FlyTheFord.org.