Website of the Antique Airplane Association and the Airpower Museum Last Update: Jun 21 2019

The Kreutzer "Air Coach"

Say the word "tri-motor" in aviation circles and most people quickly conjure up a mental image of a graceful old Ford Trimotor. But Ford was not the first, nor the only company to manufacture tri-motors during aviation's Golden Age. In fact, there were at least twenty-four different manufacturers and forty-seven different models of tri-motored aircraft produced in the United States during this period.

In January of 1929, the U.S. Department of Commerce began issuing an "A.T.C." (Approved Type Certificate) to aircraft manufacturers for each model of aircraft intended to be used for commercial purposes. The A.T.C. meant that the aircraft met certain design and performance criteria for safe flight operations. While tri-motors were already being built, the first tri-motor to receive an Approved Type Certificate was the ten place Bach "Air Yacht", the nest three tri-motor A.T.C.s went to Fords. In June of 1929, the fifth Approved Type Certificate for a tri-motored aircraft (A.T.C. 170) was issued to Joseph Kreutzer Corporation of Venice, California, for the Kreutzer "Air Coach", Model K-3.

This aircraft, NC-612, was the prototype for this first of three Kreutzer tri-motor models. NC-612 (now NC-612A) was not only the prototype for the company's first model but it was progressively converted to each of the two subsequent models as well. Today, Kreutzer's very first tri-motor is also the only surviving example from the Kreutzer tri-motor line. The history of this airplane and its survival is really quite fascinating.

- From The Kreutzer "Air Coach", The Life and Times of One of America's First Tri-motors

Webmaster's Comments
While it has been my good fortune to see many rare and unusual aircraft over the years, it is a very rare occurence indeed to see a factory prototype from the "Golden Age" - especially when it is the sole survivor of its breed.
When the Kreutzer "Air Coach" arrived at Antique Airfield for the 1999 National Fly-In, it was immediately the center of attention. Just the sound of three Kinner K-5s "flying in close formation" attracted enough attention... and then the question: "Just what is it, anyway?" quickly followed. Although I'm not sure that anyone other than the aircraft's owner, Greg Herrick, and pilot, Col. Joe Kittinger (USAF Retired) quite figured out how to pronounce it... by the time the weekend was over, everyone know what it was.
Col. Kittinger reported that the aircraft flies well - much like an Aeronca Champ.

The concensus of the observers was "Well... ok... a big Aeronca Champ".

I suppose it was no surprise to anyone attending the Fly-In that the "Air Coach" was chosen as the 1999 Antique Grand Champion.

This is what the Antique Airplane Association stands for... "Keep the Antiques Flying"... and it is indeed a pleasure that such a rare aircraft has been kept flying.

Ric Ryburn

Specifications of the Kreutzer K-5 "Air Coach"
Courtesy of Greg Herrick
Manufactured in 1928 by the Joseph Kreutzer Corporation, Venice, California.
ATC #223, September 6, 1929
Model K-5
Serial Number: 102
Registration Number: NC-612 (Currently NC-612A)
Three Kinner K-5, 100 H.P. each
Maximum Speed: 130 M.P.H.
Cruising Speed: 110 M.P.H.
Landing Speed: 45 M.P.H.
Climb: 950 feet/minute at sea level
Service Ceiling: 17,000 feet
Range at 18 gallons/hour: 520 miles
Fuel Capacity
85 gallons
Length: 33'6"
Height: 8' 6"
Wing Chord: 84"
Total Wing Area: 315 square feet
Empty Weight: 2745 pounds
Useful Load: 1698 pounds
Payload with Full Fuel: 951 pounds
Gross Weight: 4333 pounds
Goettingen 398
Price New

Owned by Greg Herrick, the aircraft was restored and is presently based near Minneapolis, Minnesota.