Vintage plane rides take flight at Gillespie Field

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EL CAJON, Calif. – A vintage aircraft has landed at Gillespie Field and for this weekend only, San Diegans can not only see a piece of history, but ride in it too.

The Ford TriMotor was built in 1929 and is living aviation history. The plane has 11 seats, including pilot and co-pilot.

The plane is on a cross-country tour and was brought to Gillespie Field by the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

On Thursday, pilot Larry Harmacinski took Fox 5 for a quick scenic ride above El Cajon.

Here are some pictures reporter Sharon Chen took in flight: https://www.facebook.com/sharonchenfox5/posts/1602399376661264

“It’s a unique glimpse into the past,” said Harmacinski. “People say time travel, this is really like time traveling.”

The TriMotor was nicknamed the “Tin Goose” and was Henry Ford’s first venture into aviation.

“He had invested in a company out of Dearborn, Michigan that produced all-metal airplanes,” said Larry. “He took the ball and ran with it just like he did with the Model T and automobile factories.”

TriMotor went on to build 199 planes, becoming the very first airliner in history.

“This plane was the first airliner that eastern airlines ever owned,” said Harmacinski of the plane he was flying.

The plane’s design is of a corrugated silver metal exterior and all three engines are exposed with exterior control systems. The interior plane is detailed with wood accents and leather seats. The plane even has air vents, large windows that open that let in the outside air.

Harmacinski only took the Fox 5 crew on a 15-minute ride, but said back in the day, the plane actually flew coast to coast.

“This airplane, back in 1929, took 48 hours lapse time,” said Harmacinski. “It was expensive though -- about $4,000 in today’s dollar, one way.”

The public is invited to take flights from Thursday through Sunday afternoon. The price of a ticket is $75 per person.

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