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Press Releases

Suzanne Fedoruk: for the National Air Tour 2003
Paige Johnson: Ford Motor Company


Historic Aircraft on the National Air Tour
to Fill the Skies Across the United States after 72-Year Hiatus

Dozens of airplanes from the ‘20s and ‘30s depart the Detroit area
on a 4,000-mile journey to celebrate an era that introduced America to safe, reliable air travel

YPSILANTI, Mich. (Sept. 8, 2003) — Cities across the eastern United States are about to experience a time warp. More than 25 rare, historic aircraft from the ‘20s and ‘30s departed today from Willow Run Airport in the metropolitan Detroit area for a 4,000-mile journey to 26 cities across the eastern United States.

The aerial armada, known as the National Air Tour 2003, is the historic flight re-creation of the National Air Tours that took place annually from 1925-31 to introduce America to the concept of civil and commercial flight.

“This year marks a centennial since the Wright brothers demonstrated that powered flight was possible. As we travel from city to city in these rare, antique airplanes, we hope to share the story of a rather romantic period in history known as the Golden Age of Aviation” said Greg Herrick, president of the Aviation Foundation of America, the nonprofit group responsible for organizing the Tour. “The National Air Tour 2003 represents this Golden Age and laid the groundwork for our modern system of air travel by promoting such basic concepts as safety, reliability and even all-metal aircraft.”

In its own centennial year, Ford Motor Company is celebrating 100 years of powered flight and its rich aviation heritage by sponsoring the National Air Tour 2003 – just as it did the original tours.

Ford, Lindbergh Among Dignitaries at Departure Ceremony
Edsel B. Ford II, honorary chairperson for the National Air Tour 2003, and Erik Lindbergh, pilot and grandson of “Golden Age” pilot Charles Lindbergh, were among the dignitaries at the departure ceremony. Edsel B. Ford II, waved the starter flag, just as his grandfather, Edsel B. Ford, did for the 1925 National Air Tour. Erik Lindbergh departed with the Tour to fly the first leg to the Lansing Municipal Airport in the Chicago area. Charles Lindbergh planned to attend the departure of the 1928 National Air Tour, but had a forced landing in a potato patch 50 miles outside Detroit.

Route of the National Air Tour 2003 – Sept. 8-24 weather permitting
The National Air Tour 2003 will fly a route that was planned, but never flown, for a 1932 Tour. The Tour will fly to the following cities in order: Depart, Detroit area; Kalamazoo, Mich.; South Bend, Ind.; Chicago/Lansing, Ill.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Wausau, Wis.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Mason City, Iowa; Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City, Mo.; Wichita, Kan.; Tulsa, Okla.; Fort Worth, Texas; Shreveport, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Memphis, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; Atlanta, Ga.; Greenville, S.C.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Wilson, N.C.; Kill Devils Hills, N.C. (Wright Brothers National Memorial); Richmond, Va.; Frederick, Md.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Dayton, Ohio; and return to the Detroit area on Sept. 24, weather permitting.

The complete schedule including airports, arrival and departure times is available at Any delays will be posted on the Web site.

Dozens of Rare Airplanes — the Kind in Museums
The aircraft on Tour are among the best of America’s vintage fleet and include Ford, Stinson and Bushmaster Tri-Motors, Sikorsky flying boats and even open cockpit biplanes designed to give pleasure rides. Each airplane is being flown by volunteer pilots and crew from 20 states and Canada. Some aircraft are original to the Tours and many are among only a handful that remain in the world. The National Air Tour 2003 marks the first time many of the aircraft will fly together since the Golden Age of Aviation.

Follow the National Air Tour — in Real Time
Air enthusiasts who can’t make it to a Tour stop can still be part of the action – in real time – over the Internet using a technology provided by Flight Explorer, partner of the National Air Tour 2003. Visitors to can see, on a map, the exact location of the lead airplane during the times that the airplanes are in the air. The information is updated every 30 seconds. Flight Explorer helps its customers, such as airlines, keep track of airplanes worldwide with its aircraft situation display.

Regular updates “from the air” including photos and journal entries from the pilots will also be available at Tour stop information, photos, videos and more provide insight into the history of the original National Air Tours.

National Air Tours of Yesterday and Today
One hundred years ago, the Wright brothers proved flight was possible. From 1925-31, the National Air Tours demonstrated flight was safe and practical.

The National Air Tours were conceived by a group of “air-minded” Detroit businessmen, receiving significant support from Henry Ford and his son, Edsel B. Ford, to introduce Americans to the concept of air travel. During its seven-year run, the National Air Tours traveled more than 29,000 miles and visited 114 cities, demonstrating safe, reliable air travel to people who previously considered aviation a military function or for daredevils.

By supporting the Tours and lending the trusted Ford name, Henry Ford and Edsel Ford helped convince a skeptical public that passenger flight was a sensible means of transportation.

Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is the world's second-largest automaker with approximately 350,000 employees and dealerships in more than 200 markets on six continents. Its automotive brands include Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury, Aston Martin and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford Credit, Hertz and Quality Care. The company’s world headquarters is in Dearborn, Mich. Ford Motor Company officially observed its 100th anniversary on June 16, 2003. Additional information can be found on the company’s Web site at

Aviation Foundation of America
Minneapolis-based Aviation Foundation of America is a 501(c)3 public charity designed to preserve and promote America’s aviation heritage at a grassroots level through initiatives such as historic flight re-creations, airport preservation projects and educational programs. The Aviation Foundation of America is an official partner of the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission along with the FAA, NASA and the Experimental Aircraft Association.

For additional information about the National Air Tour 2003 please visit the media center at


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