After the failure of his military aircraft designs, William Bushnell Stout began a private fundraising campaign and ultimately raised enough money to establish the Stout Metal Airplane Company, which was soon purchased by Ford Motor Company, becoming the Stout Metal Airplane Division of the Ford Motor Company. He developed the Stout 2-AT Pullman, which was a single engine aircraft that was used in early passenger airline travel and as transport planes. The three engine follow-up, the Stout 3-AT, did not perform well, but led to the design of the Stout 4-AT, better known as the Ford Tri-Motor airplane.
The Ford Tri-Motor was one of the most successful airplanes of the 1920s. Stout used the Tri-Motor to establish Stout Air Services, which was the first regularly scheduled passenger airline in America. The airline was operated out of Ford Airport in Dearborn, and flew passengers between Dearborn, Chicago, and Cleveland. The airline continued under the Stout name until it was acquired by National Air Transport in 1930.