While visiting with the Mielke brothers and Richard Hardy at the Harrington Barbeque, we got to talking about the Russians shooting down that big plane with a lot of passengers inside.* Finally the conversation drifted to the early day passenger planes. George told about the first sample ride he took in an enclosed aircraft. It was in a tri-motored Ford plane that came to Harrington to make a few bucks. The paying natives received the thrill of finding out what it was like to be lifted off the ground.
This Ford airplane was the "Model T" of the airways 50 some years ago. It was made out of corrugated sheets of tin, cut to the right size, to make a plane that would hold 16 passengers. A motor was hung on each wing. The third motor was placed right in front of the pilot. This type of plane was nicknamed the “Tin Goose.” Carl Mielke said, “Everytime the plane returned to take up more sight-seers, the pilot had to put some oil into each of the motor’s reservoirs.”
A few years before this aviation scoop at Harrington took place, this same Tin Goose took up thrill seekers from a stubble field near Davenport. The price for the Davenport plane ride was discriminating. The pilot and his helper drug out a scale, and charged one cent a pound for each live weight passenger. A skinny person could get on the plane for about a buck, while a fat man had to pay up to three dollars for the same belly tickling ride.
*Korean Air Lines Flight 902 20 April 1978