Port Clinton Travel Guide
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531 PT Boats plied the waves for the Allied powers during World War II. These torpedo-toting motorboats of 70-80 feet were designed to zip up to large ships, attack, and zip away. The American military called them the "Mosquito Fleet," Japanese forces gave them the nickname "Devil Boats," but these days we just know them as museum pieces, since only 13 still exist, 3 or 4 of which are still operational.
What happened to the rest of 'em? Well, PT boats were made of wood, wood which was then burned or re-used at the end of the war. Countries celebrating their victory while simultaneously worrying about piecing together a broken Europe and getting their boys back into the workforce weren't thinking about putting PTs up on plinths. Heck, it would be nearly another twenty years before John F. Kennedy, former commander of PT-109, would become president and spark the public fascination with these boats.
Now, of those 3-4 left seaworthy, two are now to be found in Ohio of all places, the newest pieces of the collection of the also very new Liberty Aviation Museum.
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Yes, that's a plane being restored right there
Hey, did you know that Ford once made airplanes?
It was the 1920s and Henry Ford had a finger in many industries, but aviation took a backseat only to cars. During the period from 1925-1933, 199 Ford Tri-Motors were produced in Dearborn, Michigan and Henry himself blatantly bragged that its all-metal, American-built construction made it the "safest airliner in the world."
Ford Tri-Motors are still puttering around, outliving and outflying countless other airplanes. They've lived crazy lives, for example going from Pan Am to drug smuggling in Central America, doing domestic routes in Cuba to hopping between the Lake Erie Islands. It's that last piece of the Tin Goose's history that's being celebrated with the debut of a new museum at Ohio's Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport (PCW), the former home of Tri-Motor operator Island Airlines.
The Liberty Aviation Museum formally opened on Friday, and we were there for the fanfare. Focusing on World War II, the golden age of aviation and vintage aircraft, the museum covers multiple bases for history lovers. However, it's the Ford Tri-Motor that rings most truly with us, having figured in our personal family history. This is a story, told by my mother, of her first flight everonboard an Island Airlines Ford Tri-Motor from PCW to Lake Erie's South Bass Island.
One of the Port Clinton-South Bass planes, loading passengers off the ice of the frozen lake
Everybody has a story about their first time. The anticipation, the nerves, the worry...but then the pure wonder when you finally take off. Of course we're talking about your first flightthe first time you boarded an airplane and discovered the skyways. We're telling those stories in a new series simply called "My First Flight." Want to share your first flight story? We've love to have it! Send it along to us here.
This story comes from a reader and close friend of Jaunted. Enjoy!
I never would have known it at the time, but my first flightonboard an Island Airways' Ford Tri-Motor plane between Port Clinton, Ohio and the Lake Erie Islandsis a part of aviation history. It was once (or maybe still is) known as the "World's Shortest Airline," since flights typically lasted no longer than 30 minutes. And one day, in the late 1960s when I was in my late teens/early twenties, I decided that the "Tin Goose" was something I wanted to experience.