[FPSPACE] RE: X-Prize -- Lindburgh's aircraft was never scaled up
to become a passenger airliner.
Spellman James Civ 60MDG/PA
James.Spellman at travis.af.mil
Sat Oct 2 13:09:14 EDT 2004
From: "Keith Gottschalk" <kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za>
Date: Sat, 02 Oct 2004 11:28:22
To:<fpspace at friends-partners.org>
Subject: [FPSPACE] Ticket prices; X prizes
Quoting Keith --
"From a question to a reflection. Everyone makes the connection
between the X prize and the prize Lindburgh won. But Lindburgh's
aircraft was never scaled up to become a passenger airliner. I do not
know if the company that built it ever became serious players in the
This might help. . .
Ryan Aeronautical Company
T. Claude Ryan, best known for building the plane that Charles Lindbergh
flew in his famous 1927 transatlantic flight, was born in Kansas in
1898. He learned to fly in 1917, was trained by the U.S. Army Air Corps,
and served with the U.S. Aerial Forest Patrol. In 1922 he established
the Ryan Flying School and a business in San Diego, California, for
flying sightseers around town. In April 1925, needing capital, Ryan
became partners with Benjamin Franklin Mahoney and formed Ryan Airlines.
The company converted war surplus aircraft for civil use, rebuilding
Standard open-cockpit biplanes to cabin transports. Ryan also acquired
the Douglas Cloudster and used it as a passenger plane after modifying
it to accommodate passengers in an enclosed cabin. He designed and built
about 40 M-1 and M-2 mail/passenger transports in 1926.
Ryan sold his interest in the company to Mahoney in 1926 but stayed on
to manage the company. In early 1927, a group of St. Louis investors
asked Ryan if he could build a plane for a nonstop transatlantic trip
within 60 days. He accepted the challenge and produced the Spirit of St.
Louis, which Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic. Ryan, however,
had no financial stake in the company and did not receive much in the
way of tangible rewards.
Mahoney formed the Mahoney-Ryan Aircraft Corporation in St. Louis,
Missouri, in 1928, to capitalize on Ryan's name. The new company
produced a number of airplanes but was acquired by the holding company
Detroit Aircraft Corporation in May 1929. Detroit folded the next year
and sold the factory in October 1930.
Meanwhile, also in 1926, Ryan had established a separate, Ryan
Aeronautical Company, primarily to import Siemens aircraft engines from
Germany. In 1928, Siemens, which wished to establish its own
distributorship in the United States, bought Ryan out for $75,000.
With the money he received from Siemens, Ryan started a flying school in
May 1928, and formed the Ryan School of Aeronautics on June 5, 1931. On
May 26, 1934, he formed a new Ryan Aeronautical Company, and the school
eventually became a subsidiary.
The first design by the new company was the Ryan ST. The prototype's
first flight took place from Lindbergh Field on June 8, 1934. The ST was
a two-seat, open-cockpit aircraft with fabric-covered braced low-wings
and an all-metal fuselage. A 95 horsepower (71-horsepower) inline engine
powered it, giving the ST a top speed of almost 140 miles per hour (225
kilometers per hour). With its exceptional handling and speed, the ST
caused a minor sensation at the time. However, only five were produced.
Less than a year later, the STA appeared. Powered by a 125-horsepower
(93-kilowatt) engine, this model set a number of light plane speed and
altitude records and also won the 1937 International Aerobatic
Championships, piloted by Tex Rankin. The next model was the STA
Special, powered by a supercharged 150-horsepower (112-kilowatt) engine.
This led directly to the STM (Sport Trainer Military) that had the same
engine but a slightly wider cockpit opening to accommodate the wearing
The STM was initially marketed in Latin American. Small numbers of
single-seat versions were sold to Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras,
Mexico, and Nicaragua. The biggest export customer turned out to be the
Netherlands East Indies (later Indonesia), which needed a basic trainer
when war broke out in Europe in 1939 and its pilots could not reach the
Netherlands for training. In 1940, an order was placed for 84 STM-2
landplane and 24 STM-S2 floatplane trainers that were used as primary,
basic, and advanced trainers and for every task except bombing and
gunnery training. Following the invasion of Java by the Japanese,
several STMs were captured and flown by the invading forces. However, 34
managed to be evacuated by ship to Australia where the Royal Australian
Air Force put them into service.
Meanwhile, in 1939, the U.S. Army Air Corps acquired an STA for
evaluation under the designation XPT-16. A contract for 15 YPT-16s (the
limited version of the XPT) followed. Production for the Air Corps was
initiated in 1940 with 30 PT-20 trainers, which were similar to the
YPT-16. The next year, Ryan developed a version with an engine that
would provide better performance. One hundred PT-21s with a
132-horsepower (98 kilowatt) engine were ordered. Additional trainers
were ordered, and with the rapid expansion of training during 1941, Ryan
received a contract for 1,023 PT-22 Recruits, which were similar to the
earlier model. He also developed the civil S-C cabin version.
Also notable was the experimental YO-51 Dragonfly observation craft,
which pioneered short takeoff and landing (STOL) techniques. Ryan
delivered three YO-51 test models in 1940, but no production order
Ryan's school also trained thousands of Army pilots during the war, very
likely becoming the largest contract flying school in the country during
Ryan received a Navy contract in December 1943, to develop the XFR-1
compound fighter, with a piston engine mounted conventionally in the
nose and a turbojet engine in the rear fuselage and exhausting through
the tail. This was followed with an order for 100 FR-1 aircraft, later
named Fireball. The first XFR-1 flew on June 25, 1944 without the
turbojet, and the first flight with both engines took place in July.
Deliveries of Fireballs to the Navy began in March 1945, and by that
time Ryan had received contracts for a total of 1,300 production
aircraft. But cancellations at the end of the war reduced its numbers
and none served in the war. They were used extensively for tests aboard
aircraft carriers before being phased out in 1947.
In the postwar slump, to stay in the business, the company produced
burial coffins for a time. It then turned out Navion planes until the
Korean War, a small plane for the personal-business market and for
military customers, acquired from the aircraft company North American
Aviation. While out of aircraft production, Ryan gained important
experimental aircraft contracts and was one of the early leaders in the
emerging missile and unpiloted-aircraft fields, along with Douglas,
Martin, and Bell companies. Ryan developed the Firebee target drone and
the Firebird, the first true air-to-air guided missile. His company also
pioneered Doppler systems and lunar landing radar.
There was strong interest in vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL)
high-performance combat aircraft. The Air Force sponsored the Ryan X-13
Vertijet, which made its first conventional flight on December 28, 1956.
It achieved vertical takeoff to horizontal flight to vertical landing on
April 11, 1957, but remained strictly experimental. The Vertijet, along
with the VZ-3RY, and the SV-5A Vertifan convertiplanes all advanced the
In 1955, the Emtor Holding Company, a California investment firm,
acquired 20 percent of Ryan. The company originally had gone public in
the late 1930s, and Claude Ryan held only 12 percent of the stock by
1955, so Emtor gained effective control. Robert Johnson of Emtor joined
Ryan's board and became president in 1961, with Claude Ryan continuing
as chairman. Ryan acquired a 50-percent interest in Continental Motors
Corporation of Detroit, the aircraft engine producer, in 1965.
Ryan was acquired by Teledyne, Inc., for $128 million in 1968 and became
a wholly owned subsidiary of Teledyne in February 1969. Claude Ryan
retired but afterward pursued independent experimental work in aircraft
for several years.
Claude Ryan died in 1982 at the age of 84.
References and Further Reading:
Donald, David, gen. ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft.
New York; Barnes & Noble Books, 1997.
Pattillo, Donald. Pushing the Envelope. Ann Arbor, Mich.: The University
of Michigan Press, 1998.
Wagner, William. Ryan, the Aviator - Being the Adventures & Ventures of
Pioneer Airman & Businessman T. Claude Ryan. New York: McGraw-Hill Book
"Claude Ryan." San Diego Historical Society.
"Ryan STM-S2." New Zealand Warbirds Association.
Tekulsky, Joseph D. "Peoples and Planes: B.F. Mahoney."
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