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Econo-Jet – the Model 73

Econo-Jet – the Model 73

Beech Aircraft Corporation’s Jet Mentor was built on a tight budget and performed well but lost its bid to be the U.S. Air Force’s first turbine-powered basic trainer to crosstown rival Cessna Aircraft Company’s Model 318. During the early 1950s, excitement about the “Dawn of the Jet Age” was capturing the imagination of the American…

Sportster!

Sportster!

In 1933 the Stearman Aircraft Company unveiled the Model 80 and Model 81 – transtional designs that represented the ultimate biplane at the dawn of the monoplane age. In 1932, the halcyon days of the “‘Roarin’ Twenties” were nothing more than painful memories for the American people. Wall Street was still in shambles three years…

Wichita’s Greatest  Gamble – Part Two

Wichita’s Greatest Gamble – Part Two

On August 16, 1927, two airplanes built in Wichita, Kansas, took off from Oakland, California, bound for the shores of Hawaii, but only one would return triumphant. By early August both Arthur Goebel and Bennett Griffin had arrived at the Oakland airport with their new Travel Air monoplanes, the Woolaroc and Oklahoma, respectively. Resplendent in…

Wichita’s Greatest Gamble – Part One

Wichita’s Greatest Gamble – Part One

In the summer of 1927 two airframe manufacturers bet the future on an ill-fated race across the Pacific Ocean – a race that left one company in a tailspin and the other flying high. By 1927 the commercial aviation industry in the United States was still in its infancy. By contrast, cars and jazz music…

AirVenture Oshkosh – Everything Aeronautical

AirVenture Oshkosh – Everything Aeronautical

The Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) annual fly-in and convention is more than just a global showcase of aviation innovation – it’s also the world’s largest air show dedicated to promoting the thrill of flight. The founding of the EAA by Paul H. Poberezny Jan. 26, 1953, led to a gathering of 21 airplanes and 150…

A New Beginning –  Part Three

A New Beginning – Part Three

“Get pilots to the front!” That was the cry of Lieutenant General Barton K. Yount, head of the United States Army Air Forces Training Command (AAFTC), as 1942 dawned. He had been hand-picked by General Henry H. Arnold for the job and Yount was doing everything within his power to accelerate flight training at the…

A New Beginning –  Part Two

A New Beginning – Part Two

As the Second World War engulfed Western Europe and the Mediterranean region, the Stearman Aircraft Company received massive orders for its Model 75 primary trainer that would train thousands of cadets and prepare America for a conflict it hoped to avoid. By 1936 the “New Deal” policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the United…

A New Beginning –  Part One

A New Beginning – Part One

In 1934 amid the United States’ worst economic calamity, the Stearman Aircraft Company unveiled the utilitarian Model 70 – a landmark design that saved the company from extinction. Throughout the early 1930s Ben Selvin and the Crooners could often be heard on the radio belting out the popular song, “Happy Days Are Here Again.” It…

Stearman – The Early Days Part Two

Stearman – The Early Days Part Two

In 1927, Stearman Aircraft, Inc. struggled to meet demand for its Sport Commercial Model C2 biplane, but operators carrying the mail by air were soon clamoring for the Model C2M. According to records held by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Stearman Aircraft, Inc., designated the airplanes built in California using constructor (serial) numbers 101-104. These…

Stearman – The Early Days Part One

Stearman – The Early Days Part One

In 1926 Lloyd Carlton Stearman bid Wichita, Kansas, farewell to go west and build biplanes, but a year later was back in town to stay. Walter H. Beech shook hands with his friend and associate at the Travel Air Manufacturing Company after flying the Travel Air Special – a handsome, custom-built biplane designed for speed.…