Blog : Historical Feature

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.…

Beechcraft – The Early Days

Beechcraft – The Early Days

Weary of “flying a desk,” in 1932 Walter H. Beech dared to put wings on his name and build the finest business airplane money could buy. “I’m just a country boy. Go get a picture of me when I first came to Wichita. I’ve made good and I’m not afraid to say so,” Walter Beech…

Breaking Point

Breaking Point

By 1933 the Beech Aircraft Company was starved for cash and the future looked dim until a Texas oilman plunked down $12,000 for a custom-built Beechcraft. After more than one year in business, Walter H. Beech had yet to sell an airplane bearing his name. He had flown many demonstration flights in the first Beechcraft,…

Travel Air’s Last Hurrah

Travel Air’s Last Hurrah

Late in 1928 Walter H. Beech authorized development of the four-place Type 10 cabin monoplane, but by 1930 America’s deepening economic debacle had almost wiped out the once booming market for new airplanes. Fact: The aviation business is cyclical. Any pilot, mechanic, airframe or engine manufacturer, as well as companies operating under FAR Part 91,…