Our goal to establish a Ford Tri-Motor museum in Port Clinton is now a reality! Thanks to a generous donation from the George V. Woodling Foundation, Liberty Aviation Museum was constructed at the Erie-Ottawa International Airport and opened to the public in July 2012.
This facility is home to two aviation groups...The Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation featuring our on-going Tri-Motor restoration, historic memorabilia and other items of related interest and Liberty Aviation Museumwhich has a beautifully restored flying B-25 bomber, ground vehicles and WWII displays.
Also on site is the Tin Goose Diner. This fully restored 1950's diner is located right off the museum lobby and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Be sure to stop in, enjoy some great food and take in all the airplane activity right outside your window!
A brand new hangar is currently under construction at the Liberty Aviation Museum complex. This new 150' x 150' building will become the museum's official "Restoration Hangar" and will be the new home of our Ford Tri-Motor project until the aircraft is ready to fly. In addition, the new facility will include much needed office space, a large workshop area and an attached 72' x 125' multi-purpose hangar that will house Liberty Aviation Museum's PT boat (PT-728) during the winter months.
Tri-Motor Project Work Sessions
If you'd like to help build our Tri-Motor or just want to stop by to see the project, here's your chance!
Regular Tri-Motor Work Sessions
Monday & Thursday 7:00 - 11:00 PM
Tri-Motor Project History
In an effort to preserve the rich heritage and local history of the Ford Tri-Motor, EAA "Tin Goose" Chapter 1247 has teamed up with Maurice Hovious to build a flying Ford Tri-Motor from the ground up! For over 30 years, Maurice has had a special fondness for Tri-Motors and is a recognized expert in the repair and restoration of these historic aircraft.
This unique opportunity came about after Chapter member Ken Benjamin met with Maurice back in January 2003 at his shop in Michigan. At that meeting, Maurice made an incredible offer...
If our Chapter would agree to provide the volunteer labor and arrange for a suitable workplace, he would provide the necessary materials, fixtures, tooling, training and technical help to build a flying 5-AT Ford Tri-Motor.
Needless to say, our Chapter accepted his generous offer and has been working on the project ever since!
Our "new" Tri-Motor arrives in Port Clinton.
Our restoration project begins with a three day training workshop in Michigan under the supervision of Plant Manager, Mike Westveer. Chapter volunteers learned first hand how to use tools for bending, cutting, drilling and riveting aluminum. At the end of our three days, we came home with the first completed pieces of our plane!
Change of plans....Instead of rebuilding the original fuselage, we decided to build our plane from scratch and use the old fuselage as a template to reverse engineer each part.
Project volunteers said "goodbye" to the original fuselage. (Work had progressed to the point it was no longer needed.) In its place, we received a new fixture, some additional parts and training to begin construction of the outer wing spars.
Another fixture and more parts were delivered allowing construction to begin on the center wing spars.
Volunteers continue building the fuselage, wing spars and attempt to master the skill of "crimping" with a new machine delivered from Michigan.
A full time mechanic was hired this Spring to help expedite the project and work with volunteers. Assembly of the main center & outer wing spars is 90% complete. Work is now focused on the assembly of all secondary wing spars and skinning the fuselage.
The beginning of the year focused on the continuing construction of wing spars and getting the fuselage skinned. When summer arrived, volunteers helped pack up all the tools and materials in our workshop and began to get things ready for our move to the new museum hangar. After skinning the majority of the fuselage, the structure was removed from its fixture and placed on a modified trailer for the move. The Tri-Motor is now on display inside the new museum where visitors can interact with volunteers and mechanics as the restoration progresses.
Work continues in a number of areas including fuel tanks, elevators, vertical stabilizer, secondary wing spar construction, assembly of the center wing spars and a variety of misc. smaller parts. There is always something to keep our volunteers busy!
Photos will be updated throughout the building process.