Henry Ford made the automobile a mass-market product that transformed the world - and he had a profound effect on air travel.
Ford was fascinated by powered flight and began corresponding with Orville Wright soon after the flight at Kitty Hawk.
In 1909, he and his son, Edsel, helped by friends, built a primitive monoplane powered by a Model T engine.
After World War I, most planes in service were relics of that conflict, one- or two-seaters flown either by barnstormers to entertain the citizenry or by the U.S. Post Office to deliver the mail. They were fragile and dangerous, made of wood and fabric and kept aloft by only one engine.
In 1925, Ford bought Stout Metal Airplane Co. and built the first Ford TriMotor, a stunning technological advance that soon became the industry standard. He opened the Ford Airport in Dearborn, which had the world's first concrete runway, a restaurant, hotel and limousine service to downtown Detroit. He sponsored a series of "Reliability Tours" to build public confidence in air transportation.
The retrenchment necessitated by the Great Depression led him to leave commercial aviation in 1933, but by then his ideas had wings of their own.
In 1984, Henry Ford was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
For the rest of the story, read Automotive News' Ford 100 commemorative edition on June 16. For information about the special issue, visit www.autonews.com/ford100/.