In the mid-1920s, auto magnate Henry Ford bought 1,400 acres of land and constructed an air strip in Lansing, Ill. where he hoped to mass-produce the Ford Tri-Motor, a workhorse three-motor airplane used for commercial aviation and passenger flights by fledgling airlines. Located in what now is Lansing Municipal Airport, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart are said to have used Lansing Municipal – and probably the Ford Hangar – in the early days of flight to promote air travel as a fast and safe alternative to train and automobile travel.
The Great Depression scuttled Ford’s plans for the Tri-Motor (only 199 were built), but the Ford Hangar lives on to this day at Lansing Municipal. It’s a working hangar and currently home of Associated Air Activities.
Visitors can see the Ford Hanger – which is now on the National Register of Historic Places – by stopping at the airport or going to www.associatedair.com. The airport also contains an interesting Veteran’s Memorial and a restaurant, Shannon’s Landing, where visitors can see planes landing and taking off while dining.
The Commemorative Air Force’s Great Lakes Wing operates a restored Douglas C-47, The Black Sparrow, out of Lansing Municipal. Rides are available during the summer; see the CAF website for details.
– Bob Lukens
Bob is the public relations manager at the Chicago Southland CVB