- Associated Press - Monday, May 25, 2015

PORT CLINTON, Ohio (AP) - A 1929 tri-motor airplane, part of a pair once flown by Amelia Earhart, landed back in Ohio just in time to take to the skies for Memorial Day weekend.

The 5-AT-B Ford Tri-Motor airplane, historically known as the “City of Wichita,” returned to the Liberty Aviation Museum in Portage Township near Port Clinton last week.

Three new engines were installed and the propellers were rebalanced so that the museum could use the plane- a model once nicknamed the “Tin Goose” for its metal covering - as a nationwide promotional tool. People were able to purchase flights on the renamed “City of Port Clinton” over the holiday weekend.

After spending much of the winter in Florida, the plane returns to Ohio, where it made aviation history, to help educate museum visitors about aviation’s golden age.

It was one of 10 planes purchased by Transcontinental Air Transport in the 1920s, and is the only one still surviving. In 1929, Amelia Earhart and others flew from Columbus to Glendale, California on “The City of Wichita” and another plane, “The City of Columbus,” to inaugurate westbound transcontinental commercial air service.

Jeff Sondles, operations director for the museum, told the Port Clinton News-Herald that the plane is a piece of aviation history.

“Neil Armstrong had his first flight on a Tin Goose,” Sondles said. “They mean so much to people.”

Many people remember those planes as the ones they flew in first, he said.

“We have grandparents bring their grandchildren to show them what they flew in to the islands. It’s just great,” he said.

In 1925, Henry Ford bought the Stout Metal Airplane Co. hoping to create America’s first mass-produced airliners. The three-engine planes were made completely of metal and were well-designed, relatively inexpensive and reliable for the time.

A museum in Oregon sold the plane last summer to the Portage Township museum for $1.5 million.

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