A fleet of aircraft land in Iowa today, to continue a flight that began more than 75 years ago. National Air Tours backed by the Ford Motor company were planned to transform the image of aviation from war machines and stunt performers to a reliable mode of public transportation, and the promoters booked air tours through the Midwest that included Des Moines in 1925, ’26 and ’29. But some of the big planes of the time bypassed the gravel 14-hundred foot strip which was all Des Moines had to offer for a landing spot at the time of the first tour. The city was inspired to build the area’s first paved runway with real electric lights by the time the Air Tour returned and Iowa’s Rusty Campbell was part of it, flying a Curtis Travel Air biplane. The national air tour is being re-created this year during the Centennial of Flight, and today they’re scheduled for stops in Mason City and Des Moines…with an eye on the chance of thunderstorms.
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