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American Classics

Old 31st Jan 2003, 11:51
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Gnome de PPRuNe
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Question American Classics

To continue the themes of great light aircraft (MMMMMmmmiles and Ahhhh Auster).... and to see us Northern Hemispherians (?) through the dank dark days of winter...

What's your favourite American classic?

I drool over all of them but I think my favourite's got to be the Spartan Executive. Always admired the pics, then came face to face with one at Reno! Wow! Great lines, an almost mirror-finish reflecting the crowd of admirers, and a great big round engine on the front... Then four of them at Osh... heaven!

Second choice would probably be the Monocoupe 90 or 110 (is G-AFEL still around?)

Hope we'll get a few great tales out of this one!
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Old 31st Jan 2003, 17:44
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May I take everyone who knows me completely by suprise, and put in a vote for the Piper Cub?

Not only is it the prettiest and best proportioned light aeroplane of the lot, but it has the true inner beauty of being simple and long lasting.

The only reason that I have been able to fly for as long as I have - and can still just about hang onto my own L-4 now - is that the Cub is also incredibly cheap to run. It flys like a dream too; what more could you ask for?
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Old 31st Jan 2003, 20:02
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Beech 17 'Staggerwing', what else?
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 10:27
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Well, now you've really started something, Treadders. This one could run and run. (And no change there, then, Mr Whiteman seconded!). Top of my list would have to be the Beech Staggerwing, D or G model. Next, gullwing Stinson Reliant, especially the SR-9 series with bump cowl and curved windscreen the smooth cowl and flat multi-pane windscreen on the SR-10 and military V-77 spoiled the lines to my eye. Cessna Airmasters, and their post-war siblings the 190/195. Waco RE series. And any of the single-engine Lockheeds. Since some are now more than half a century old, post WW2 'neo-Classics' deserve a mention. Piper Super Cruiser. Navion. Comanche 250. Straight-tail, 'tuna tank' Cessna 310s. And top of my list, pre-1960 Aero Commanders, with their big geared and supercharged Lycomings and augmentor tube exhausts, emitting a non-politically correct, but joyously raucous note matched only by a Can-Am McLaren. Upscale, the Grumman Mallard, my vote as the best looking amphibian ever.

I think the 'coupe is in storage in Germany.
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 17:12
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Yes I'd vote for any Waco too. Except for that tri-gear abomination (AVN ?). But of all, the xPF series is the most visually pleasing - something about the curve of that dorsal fin. Oh and the Fleets too - sweet little things.
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Old 1st Feb 2003, 19:41
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Question Yeah, but what about......

How about the Grumman J2F Duck or, the Gee Bee R1 or the Howard DGA6 (Mr. Mulligan) or, any of the Thompson Trophy racers of the late 1930s.

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Old 1st Feb 2003, 19:53
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Of course I have to second Mr. Whiteman. If you take the Super Cub as a direct descendant of the Cub (which it is and in fact the two are pretty much indistinguishable to a non-flyer or someone not familiar with them) then this aircraft has been in more or less continuous production for over 70 years and remains a workhorse for which there is no substitute in such places as Alaska. This is a classic!

Others of mine include:

Grumman Goose / Widgeon
Cessna 195
Staggerwing -- just a beauty.

Let's face it, and it pains me to say it, but with few exceptions the Americans have been streets ahead of the Brits in light aircraft design since the 30s. (That statement should set the cat amongst the pigeons!)

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Old 2nd Feb 2003, 02:16
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The Spatan was a tough airplane. While my dad was working for Stanley Aviation here in Denver , Colorado, Bob Stanley was screwing around over his house in the mountains and hit a power line. He landed in Denver with 150 feet of line trailing from the spar of the aircraft. Stanley was the first pilot of the first American jet ... P59.

As far as transports.................the lines of the Connie are prehistoric Concorde for just plain grace.
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Old 2nd Feb 2003, 02:45
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Staggerwing Beech.
I've flown the SR-9, on floats. I worked for a company back in the '60's that had one, and one afternoon another guy and myself took it and did a few touch and go's. I remember that it flew well, and it had a weird vacuum operated flap system, but that's about all.
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Old 2nd Feb 2003, 16:07
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American Classics

I thought I'd nip across from my MMMmmmiles thread to give you a kick start on this one!

Funny story -

Gordon Spooner - master craftsman responsible for the superb restoration of MMMmmmessenger G-AJWB - said to me not more than a week after he had finished it - 'What do I do now? It has to be made of metal and have a good performance so that I can maybe dump the Piper Dakota.'

I Immediately thought of the Navion.

Guess what?

He now owns 2 of them, a classic (whatever designation that would be) and a RangeMaster.

So - look out for a concours Navion next year - I am sure it will be well featured in the Pilot Press when he finishes it.

Globe Swift - I went to Sun n Fun a couple of years back and saw a row of Globe Swifts. Wow! Pity there aren't any here(?).

I also think that the Stinson TriMotor is dead funky - and not only because its windscreen slopes the wrong way!

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Old 2nd Feb 2003, 16:58
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Hairyplane: Where does Gordon Spooner keep his Navions? Since the Navion has never been certificated in the UK, presumably he'll have to operate on an overseas register? Incidentally, I have a heap of original North American factory photos of Navions, if they might be of any help to him with his 'classic'.

There are still two Globe Swifts in the UK, but neither is active. Pity Helliwells never manufactured them here, as was planned back in 1947.
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Old 3rd Feb 2003, 09:30
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Hairyplane: Ignore my last about the Navions' whereabouts. I already knew where they are, but hadn't made the connection. And there are at least three Globe Swifts in the country, but none flying.

Last edited by Aerohack; 3rd Feb 2003 at 09:44.
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Old 3rd Feb 2003, 10:01
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I'd like a Fairchild Argus please.
It has a stick
It has window winders
it has a round engine or a straight six
it has enough seats to take a couple of friends for a jolly
its wheels are the right way round
I could almost afford one once..........don't know what they are worth these days though.
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Old 3rd Feb 2003, 12:21
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Ah, excellent relies of course, you are all gentlemen (and ladies?) of exquisite taste - from Cub to Connie by way of Staggerwing, all wonderful...

To add to the Cessnas in Aerohack's first post, how about the Cessna 180/185, preferably with the underbelly cargo pack for that rugged bush look?

The Mallard? Well, absolutely because this thread is about American classics, though personally I think it shares first spot in the amphibian stakes with the Short Sealand (ah, would that one of those still flew in the UK!)

Re the early Lycoming Aero Commander - not sure I've ever heard one flying, but would they sound similar to the Queen Airs and the old Do-28Ds? I can recall listening to the Queens getting airborne from Biggin on occasion and wondering why anyone would dare complain about Harvards!!!! And used to see WGAF Do-28Ds transiting across from Brawdy towards Dover at about 10,000 - depending on the prevailing wind, you could hear them for about half an hour!

I'd like to see the Monocoupe back in the air here - first saw it lurking in a hangar at Redhill about twenty years ago and was smitten!

Keep 'em coming...
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Old 3rd Feb 2003, 14:48
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Well, Treadders, you and I really are on the same wavelength. My original response, before I put it on the thread, noted of the Mallard "but the Short Sealand is right up with it in the beauty stakes." Long time since I've seen one of those (or a piston-engined Mallard, come to think of it).

Do the old Commanders sound like Queen Airs and Do 28Ds? Yes, exactly like that. Twin Bonanzas, too, and Piaggio 166s. Harvards? Pah! Mere mumblers compared to the throaty roar of anything with a pair of GSO/IGSO-480s. The Mexican National Bank used to operate a Heron whose Gipsy Queens had been replaced with four GSO-480s, and I think there was a McKinnon Goose conversion that also had a quartet of them.
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Old 3rd Feb 2003, 15:35
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Absolutely, but when one is talking REAL classic aeroplanes, be they American, British, whatever...

I wonder if the Sealand in Belgrade still survives? I suspect the Pakistani and Indian examples are long gone...

I had thought Chalks had gone (Watson Island seemd deserted when I was last there in 1999) but, good news, I've just found their web-site and they are still operating the Mallards... they might be turbine powered, but what the hey, they are still Mallards! Time for another trip to Florida I think...

Yep, great sound those big Lycomings - seem to remember that thread hopping Widgeon, N444M, sounded pretty similar too!


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Old 3rd Feb 2003, 23:22
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Does anyone remember the Kari-Keen Coupe?
Kari-Keen was a luggage-making company in Sioux City. Iowa that got bitten by the aviation bug in the 1920's. They hired a graduate of the USD's fledgling aeronautical engineering program, Swen Swansen, to design a simple, side-by-side, two seat monoplane of mixed construction.
Innovative for its time was the cantilever wing supported by an exceptionally strong tapering box spar made of spruce. The wing's leading edge was covered with aluminium, the rest with grade A fabric. The fuselage was a fabric-covered steel tube frame. Powerplant was a modest-looking 90-hp Lambert radial swinging a Fahlin wooden propeller.
Unfortunately, after about 50 had been built, the company went bankrupt. One survived until at least 1988, as NC-244K restored by one Frank Bass.

Hardly a classic, but still a very pretty aeroplane.
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Old 4th Feb 2003, 02:02
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Cool One-eighty/one-eight-five & Super Cub

The Super Cub and Cessna 180/185 get my votes. Both are very rugged machines which can provide a variety of services to remote or 'rough' areas, and which rarely break down or fail. Both dont look too bad either, which is a department in which a lot of other 'rugged' machines fail in.

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Old 4th Feb 2003, 03:20
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I may be the splitter here, but I have always liked prototypes - they are classics for me.

The American ones that come to my mind are:

Cessna 620 (only one built and trashed by Cessna)

Northrop's early versions of the flying wing, the XB-35 and the YB-49 (more here )

but then I always liked the odd (planes) .
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Old 4th Feb 2003, 07:22
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Hmm American Classics.

All those mentioned are certainly worthy and I agree particularly with those who admire the C180/185 series. There's a georgous C195 here in Queensland which would have to be one of the better looking aircraft still flying.

I used to have a 1963 C185, complete with cargo pod, which was used as a bush aeroplane in PNG. Until an idiot Kiwi crashed her 10 years back.

P2-AWM outside old Aeroclub, Port Moresby, PNG, 1992

I'm a little surprised no-one has mentioned the decendants of the Beech 17. Surely the Bonanza series must qualify as an American Classic...mine's approaching 33 years old...not quite vintage yet but certainly veteran, and definately a classic

VH-EZU @ Redcliffe QLD 2003

But for you Poms a classic taildragger that belongs to a mate in Old Blighty and who frequents these Forums as Taildragger. I flew her a few times when owned by yet another expat POM. A 1954 model C180 looking just devine.


Modern plastic aeroplanes just don't match up I'm afraid.

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