03/28/05 — Opinion: A bit of history

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Opinion: A bit of history

By Gene Price
Published in News on March 28, 2005 1:45 PM

Most among us must have thought our Global TransPark created at Kinston a few years ago was a novel idea.

Well, not completely.

The concept for the TransPark is that, among other things, it would be used to fly materials in from various parts of the country and world, upgrade or assemble them and then ship the finished products.

The idea hasn't really flown (no pun intended) and the TransPark has been a bit of a disappointment. Its best early chance for success was lost when Fed Ex rejected it as a major hub.

Thanks to a loan from Hal Stewart, I have been reading Timothy J. O'Callaghan's The Aviation Legacy of Henry and Edsel Ford.

And I came across this revelation:

In July, 1925, Henry Ford had his fledgling Air Transportation Service inaugurate air freight service from Dearborn, Mich., to Cleveland, Ohio. It coincided with the dedication of Cleveland's new Municipal Airport.

To dramatize "the convenience, versatility and practicality" or air freight, the innovative and promotion-minded Ford had the first plane come in with all the parts needed to build a Model T car.

Waiting at the airport were 17 employees of Ford's Cleveland assembly plant.

They unloaded the parts and assembled the car at the airport in an hour and three minutes!

The feat was witnessed by some 200,000 spectators.

Incidentally, a Ford Tri-Motor like the one Adm. Richard Byrd flew over the South Pole is being restored at Goldsboro-Wayne Airport. Stewart and the folks at Goldsboro Tin Shop have produced a replica of the Ford emblem that will be installed on the plane.

Stewart put his heart in the effort. He been a lifetime aviation enthusiast. And with good reason. His father was North Carolina's first licensed aviator.

The elder Stewart took Hal on a flight in a Tri-Motor identical to the one being restored here.

More on them -- and that Tri-Motor -- later ...