ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A visit to Albuquerque this week by a 1928 Ford Tri-Motor aircraft represents a flight back in time to an era when the city played a part in the early history of commercial air transportation.
It was a time when pilots, flying for Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT), a precursor of Trans World Airlines, made their way cross country by following a course marked by concrete arrows and 51-foot-high beacon towers outfitted with rotating white-light beams.
“Albuquerque was one of the 1929 fueling stops for Transcontinental Air Transport,” said Steve Owen, chairman of the Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum at the Grants-Milan Airport. “That was Oxnard Field, part of Kirtland Air Force Base today. That was the pit stop for air travelers. They would have come from Clovis to Albuquerque and would go from Albuquerque to Winslow (Ariz.).” And eventually on to Los Angeles. And they came from Clovis and went on from Albuquerque in Ford Tri-Motors, a durable, three-engine aircraft built by Henry Ford, who produced 199 of the planes between 1925 and 1933.