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Pearl Harbor airplane displayed in Goldsboro

Posted December 7, 2008

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— An airplane struck by bullets at Pearl Harbor 67 years ago went on display at the Goldsboro Air Center this weekend.

The rare, restored 1929 Ford 4-A-T-E Tri-Motor plane was out for the public to view 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at the Goldsboro-Wayne Municipal Airport, 240 Aviation Road in Pikeville.

"Because so few of Ford's marvelous Tri-Motor airplanes still exist, this is a rare opportunity to see such an important and historic aircraft," said Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company.

"This might be the last chance to see an icon of a important period in American history before it goes into a private collection."

The plane is one of just 199 Tri-Motors built by Ford Motor Company between 1926 and 1933, after Henry Ford realized the potential for mass air transportation during World War I. This craft was built in Spokane, Wash., in 1929 as a passenger plane for Mamer Flying Service.

"This particular aircraft survived being shot at by enemy aircraft and the perils of fighting fires in Montana," Davis said.

KT Flying Service of Honolulu bought the plane and brought it to Hawaii. During the surprise attack by Japan, bullets punctured the plane's exterior. It was quickly repaired and returned to service.

After being featured in Trans World Airlines' 20th anniversary celebration in 1949, the plane was modified into a sprayer and firefighting tanker. Johnson Flying Service used it to drop smoke jumpers and supplies to firefighters.

In 1969, the plane entered private ownership and was part of the Wings and Wheels museum collection in Orlando, Fla., until it was acquired by Barret-Jackson.

Bob Woods supervised the majority of the plane's restoration in Goldsboro. The airframe was reworked, a new interior installed, and the exterior completely re-skinned.

The original landing gear and straight-laced wire wheels remain, and no modern avionics or communications gear were added.

After the display of the Tri-Motor in Goldsboro, Barret-Jackson will put it up on the auction block at a show in Scottsdale, Ariz., Jan. 17, 2009.

"Since the plane will not physically cross the block in Scottsdale, the open house will allow bidders to inspect the Tri-Motor in person before the sale," Davis said.

But, perhaps more importantly, the public got a chance to see the historic plane again this weekend.

"Imaginations soar as people revel in the aircraft's presence and dream of taking it home," Davis said.


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