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Knoll Aircraft Corp


The Knoll Aircraft Corporation received its state charter on October 10, 1928. Felix Knoll, formerly of The Rohrbach Metal Aeroplane Company (Germany) and later the Chief Engineer of the Heinkel Aircraft Company, immigrated to the United States from Germany for better opportunities. Within weeks of being in the country, Wichita business leaders recruited Felix to come to Wichita and start a company of his own. Engineering work, stress calculations, and drawings for the first model, the KN-1, were completed in Room 623 of the Broadview Hotel. Felix and Herbert Schwenke; another German immigrant from The Rohrbach Metal Aeroplane Company, worked on the plans together.

George Siedhoff, who owned and built the Broadview Hotel where the KN-1 was designed, was selected to build a new 50,000 square foot factory on a 148 acre tract of land at the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road. The building featured two stories, a mezzanine area, clear story windows, and adjacent runway. Assets such as machinery, tools, and equipment were purchased from the bankruptcy of Laird Whippoorwill Airplane Company. The company set up a temporary shop at 471 W 1st street in the former building of both the Travel Air Company and Laird Whippoorwill. By the end of December, 1928, the first airplane was ready to fly.

Over five hundred spectators gathered around the East Airport to watch the KN-1 first flight. Amongst the crowd were Lloyd Stearman, Walter Beech, reporters, and motion picture camerame. The December 30, 1928 first test flight was so successful that pilot Howard Jones chose to double the planned time and stayed in the air for thirty minutes. He took the airplane through loops, rolls, and power dives.

In June 1929 new issues of Stock were released.

By July 1929 the company was not paying its bills. The company assets were found to be embezzled soon afterward. Demand for new aircraft in the summer of 1929 was softening. Arguments between the board of directors and management broke out over the necessity of building the new factory, the hiring of too many engineers, and also the Yunker contract work. Payment for the Yunker work was to have been stock in the Yunker Aircraft Company. The lack of funds, and sales combined with the depression, halted production with three new aircraft in development. The company was placed into receivership on August 26, 1929, under the management of Ray Theis.

On December 18, 1929, the assets were liquidated at auction. Roy Buckley purchased the manufacturing machinery and equipment. He would later found the Buckley Aircraft Company. George Siedhoff purchased uncompleted airframe sections and parts, as well as the rights to X8899. C.V. Snyder bought the new plant and grounds. The Yellow Air Cab Company, in turn, bought it in late 1930. The airport property was then purchased by Beechcraft in 1940 and became their Plant II.







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