IN JUNE 2007 this author was fortunate to have the chance to go aloft in a restored 1927 Ford Tri Motor airplane. This craft sports three 450 HP motors and was used as a bomber and and also a civilian transport aircraft. It has a top speed of 85 knots and seats nine passengers. We even had one rather elderly passenger on board who had photos and documentation that showed that this airplane was even used to deploy "Smoke Jumpers" as late as the 1950's, of which he was one. 

He explained to the Pilot  how, when used for smoke jumping, the rearmost seats were removed and he showed us passengers how he would stand near the door and make ready to jump out. 

This author asked about the reliability of the motors and was informed that the motors are extremely reliable and are still being manufactured today. This plane has a very low takeoff speed and I was told that the wings are five feet deep near the fuselage, which gives the craft great lift. We taxied for what seemed to be less than a city block and then we slowly and smoothly watched the ground recede beneath us. The takeoff was very smooth and peaceful and there was no sensation of becoming airborne as there is with jet aircraft. 

The Smoke Jumper is the gray-haired passenger. We also had two females on board and they lent a bit of "interest" to the flight. They could have acted as Stewardesses and the pilot made sure that they sat in the front most seats, immediately behind the pilot and copilot.

Can't say that I blame them...