Plane, One of Only 199 Built, Survived Pearl Harbor Attack
Known for its high-profile automobile auctions, Barrett-Jackson
Auction Company is already making waves for its 2009 event in
Scottsdale, AZ... with a high-flying item that has little to
do with classic cars.
One of the highlights of the 38th annual "automotive lifestyle
event" -- to be held January 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 Tuesday before the sale when it departs from
Petersburg, VA en route to Goldsboro, NC.
The Ford Tri-Motor took off from Dinwiddie County Airport in
Petersburg at 9:00 am EDT. It arrived at Goldsboro Air Center
inside Goldsboro-Wayne Municipal Airport at 10:30 am 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
"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 to be sold began its historic journey in 1929 in
Spokane, WA, 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 December 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
firefighters. 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... where the plane's
airframe was reworked, a new interior installed and the exterior
The wings were reworked and re-skinned by expert craftsman
Maurice Hovious of Hov-Aire in Vicksburg, MI. 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.
"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."