MANATEE -- With a cruising speed of 90 mph and a nine-passenger capacity, the Ford Tri-Motor was a tiny, plodding, aircraft compared to modern jetliners.
But the iconic high-wing, tail-dragging aircraft, featured in the Indiana Jones' movie "Temple of Doom," is considered a pioneer in the airline industry.
Today, only three of 199 ever built between 1926 and 1933 are known to exist, and only one of those, No. 146, is still flying.
That aircraft, a 1929 model, is set to visit Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on March 26-28.
Aviation enthusiasts have an opportunity to reserve a window seat -- all of the seats are window seats -- for the flights out of APP Jet Center 1234 Clyde Jones Road.
Matt Gregg, president and CEO of Synergy Lighting of Bradenton, and a board member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, couldn't be happier to have a "Tin Goose" visiting locally.
"We have begged them about four years to come down here," Gregg said Monday.
The 1929 Tri-Motor, part of the Experimental Aircraft Association collection in Oshkosh, Wisc., has some history.
The plane first flew Aug. 21, 1929, and was sold to Pitcairn Aviation's passenger division, Eastern Air Transport, which would become Eastern Airlines, according to the AirVenture Museum website.
In 1930, the plane, NC8407, was leased to Cubana Airlines, and started service between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. It was later flown by the government of the Dominican Republic.
In 1949, the Tri-Motor returned to the United States for barnstorming out of Miami.
In 1950, it was fitted with more powerful engines and moved to Phoenix, Ariz., as a crop duster. In 1955, it moved on to Idaho where it was used in aerial firefighting, and in 1958 was modified for use by smoke jumpers, according to the museum website.
By 1964, it had returned to its barnstorming role, and was featured in the Jerry Lewis comedy "The Family Jewels."
In 1973, the plane was torn from its tie-downs in a thunderstorm and wrecked.
The Experimental Aircraft Association purchased the Tri-Motor and restored it over the next 12 years.
Gregg said his excitement over the visit of the Tin Goose is real.
"When I was 5 years old, I told my parents I was going to be an air traffic controller and I became one when I was 18 in the Navy. I also got my pilot's license that year," he said.
Greg Lewis of Bradenton, a pilot for United Airlines and a member of EAA, said he is taking vacation in part to see the Ford Tri-Motor.
Lewis flies the Boeing 757, with its 175-passenger capacity, across the North Atlantic to England and back, and is fascinated that such a rare plane with its non-retracting wheels, and engines on the nose and wings is coming to Manatee County.
It's an opportunity to see, touch and ride in a piece of aviation history, Lewis said.
Flight times are 2-5 p.m. March 26 and 9-5 p.m. March 27 and 28. Pre-booking is available at www.flytheford.org or call 1-877-952-5395. Price: $80 per person.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or tweet @jajones1