Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Really Old Bird- It's a Tin Goose, no less!

I love to photograph birds in flight, so the news that an eighty-three old goose was seen at the Elmira Airport was all that I needed to know.  Pack the camera and get out there.

Here she is:

She is a 1929 Ford Tri-motor nicknamed the Tin Goose, restored by the Experimental Aircraft Association's  Pioneer Airport in Kalamazoo.  She began her service in the forerunner of Eastern Airlines, and a year later began passenger service for Cubana Air between Santiago and Havana.  Her career went on to include barnstorming, crop dusting, aerial fire fighting, smoke jumper support and now touring for the EAA and offering short excursion flights.

This is one of the few planes that can guarantee every passenger both a window and an aisle seat.

But, don't expect a lavatory or beverage service.  The passengers don't seem to mind the Spartan d├ęcor.

The plane was not flying yesterday because it needed a new fuel pump, but that was fixed this morning; after running the engines up at the hangar, it was ready to go on a short test flight. I stationed myself at the end of runway 24 to watch the beginning of the test flight.  The sound of the three rotary engines was beautiful when compared with the whine of the executive jets preceding it to the runway.  How air travel has changed in eighty years - some for the better and more for the worse.


I don't recall ever seeing the pilot taxi and take-off with his arm hanging out an open window. 

Most of all, I wanted to get images of the plane in flight.  Thankfully, the test flight was a short loop around the south of the airport and back in for my first chance.  Here came the Tin Goose in a slow bank against a blue sky with beautiful puffy clouds. Perfect.

And as the plane smoothly glided onto runway 24, I saw the pilot with his arm still on the open window sill.  Don't see that on an Airbus.  Also don't get to see outside that often.

I  stayed to watch the next two flights with passengers and went home feeling that I had just had a glimpse what the beginning of passenger flying was like.  What a wonderful treasure this plane is.

By the way, I believe that I have seen Canada Geese flying faster than this plane's landing speed.