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Travel Air Manufacturing Co.
Travel Air Inc


The Winstead Special was derived by the Winstead brothers from an initial metal fuselage frame developed at Swallow by Stearman and Walter Beech, and subsequently discarded by Swallow. The rejection of the metal frame concept, by Swallow president Jake Moellendick, triggered the departure of Stearman and Beech, and the creation of Travel Air.


26 Jan 1925:
Travel Air Mfg Co,
471 W First St,
Wichita KS

Walter H. Beech formed the Travel Air Manufactuing Company in Wichita, Kansas, USA, in 1924. The Travel Air Manufacturing Company was in essence Waiter Beech, Lloyd Stearman and Clyde Cessna, all backed by Walter P. Innes. In 1926, Stearman quit to go it alone. Cessna followed a year later. Cessna's bone of contention was that he thought the monoplane was the way to go, while Walter Beech felt there was life left yet in the biplane.

Noted chiefly for its Model 2000/ 3000/ 4000/ 8000/ 9000 family of commercial and training biplanes of the mid/late 1920s.


Lycoming Co claims that on 3 Apr 1929 the first appearance of a Lycoming aircraft engine, a 215hp R-680, was used for trial flights on a Travel Air biplane, but on exactly which model was not stated.


Travel Airs generally featured overhanging "elephant ears" ailerons on 1000, 2000, 3000, A-4000 and W-4000; round wingtips all others. V-type gear with shock cords on 2000, 3000, A-4000, E-4000, K-4000 and W-4000; knee-type, oleo strut gear all others.


Renamed Travel Air Inc in February 1925, the Wichita, Kansas, based company built many famous aircraft with designations starting with No.1 and Model A, through to model 11 and the Model R Mystery Ship. Travelair Model R 'Mystery Ships' came first in 1929 Thompson Trophy race and 2nd in 1930, easily beating best U.S. Army and Navy entries.


535 W Douglas Ave.


Travel Air Co.
Wichita KS



In August 1929, stock changed hands, and the Curtiss-Wright Corporation became the controlling power in Travel Air. Travel Air's production had been one-tenth of the total U. S. output of commercial airplanes, so it must have looked like a good buy to Curtiss-Wright. That same year was the year of the highly successful Mystery Ship racers.

Around 1930, Walter and one of the designers at Travel Air, Ted Wells, began discussing plans for a high-performance, four-place cabin biplane. Both men were firm believers in biplanes and hoped to convince Curtiss-Wright that it should build the plane. Wells and his group completed the design, but since the Depression was already upon them, C-W was not about to introduce a new airplane and soon was forced to cease all Travel Air production with the Model 16. As the Depression hit, Beech found him-self with a pocketful of cash from the sale of his stock in the Travel Air Corpora-tion and a job as sales boss of the Curtiss-Wright headquarters in New York. It seemed a good time to quit, and he did.


Curtiss-Wright Airplane Co,
Lambert Field,
St Louis MO.


But Beech believed in the new airplane and wasn't going to be dissuaded by corporations, depressions or the immutable laws of economics. In 1932, he and his wife and a handful of others started the Beech Aircraft Compa-ny specifically to build the Ted Wells design. Continuing with the Travel Air numbering, it would be called the Model 17. Although Beech and Clyde Cessna had philosophical disagreements on biplanes versus monoplanes.



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