Immediately after World War II ended, Earnest Schweizer designed the SGU 2-22EK. Earnest and his brothers, Paul and William, hoped to produce and sell an inexpensive, easy-to-fly, two-seat training glider built from aluminum that could operate from small airfields. The Schweizer Aircraft Corporation built 257 examples of the 2-22 from 1946 to 1967. Thousands of people acquired the skill to fly motorless aircraft at the controls of the 2-22 and many of these airplanes remain active in 2003.
Byron G. "Scotty" McCray flew this Schweizer 2-22EK from 1966 to 1973 at airshows in the United States, Canada, and the Bahamas. His routine began at about 760-912 m (2,500-3,000 ft). After releasing from the tow airplane, McCray looped, rolled, and spun the 2-22 down to a silent landing. He synchronized his maneuvers to the theme music from the Hollywood film Born Free while audiences heard the melody booming through the airshow public address system.
Country of Origin: United States of America
Wingspan: 13.1 m (43 ft)
Length: 7.9 m (26 ft)
Height: 2.7 m (9 ft)
Weights: Empty, 217 kg (483 lb)
Gross, 408 kg (900 lb)
Sailplane used by Scotty McCray for aerobatics, silver, red and blue; ca. 1960.
Immediately after World War II, Earnest, Paul, and William Schweizer detected interest among civilian flight schools and flying clubs in a new, two-seat, training glider. These groups wanted an aircraft with a low wing-loading that pilots and students could easily operate from small airfields. They also preferred an airplane constructed from aluminum. Wooden gliders were too fragile to store outside and the cost to hangar them was usually beyond the financial means of these modest flyers. The brothers believed that a new glider must be easier to fly than the thousands of wooden, military surplus, training gliders beginning to flood the civilian market. A glider that flew well and easily, they reasoned, would keep new pilots enthusiastic about flying. Franklin E. Hurtt, chief test pilot for the Schweizer Aircraft Corporation, summed up the characteristics of the 2-22 in the March-April 1946 issue of "Soaring" magazine:
1. A two-place [seating configuration], for dual instruction.
2. A utility [type], for low stall [speed] and cruising speeds and to keep initial cost below the "luxury class" high-performance type.
3. Aerodynamically safe and structurally sound.
4. A light wing-loading to insure [sic] satisfactory take-off performance.
5. Light in weight for ease of ground handling and small size to facilitate storage.
The Schweizer brothers also designed the 2-22 to complement the type of training carried out in the single-seat Schweizer 1-19 glider. Instructors would introduce students to flying and guide them through their primary flight training in the 2-22, then turn them loose to hone their new flying skills at the controls of the 1-19. Both aircraft also shared the same tail components.
Earnest Schweizer began to design the new aircraft late in 1945 and Hurtt took the prototype 2-22 aloft for the first flight on February 8, 1946. Earnest easily met one of the most important requirements for the new glider, a modest cruise speed. The 2-22 stalled at 43 km/h (27 mph), cruised at 48 km/h (30 mph) and a pilot could fly it as fast as 143 km/h (89 mph). Sales were very slow for more than a decade but the company eventually sold 257 units before production ended in 1967. The factory exported the 2-22 to Argentina, Belgium, Columbia, Indonesia, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, and Venezuela. Thousands of people acquired the skill to fly motorless aircraft at the controls of the 2-22 and many of these airplanes remain active in 2003.
Between 1966 and 1973, Byron G. "Scotty" McCray flew this Schweizer 2-22EK during airshow performances across the United States, in Canada, and the Bahamas. His routine began at about 800 m (2,500-3,000 ft). After releasing from the tow airplane, McCray looped, rolled, and spun the 2-22 down to a silent landing. He synchronized his maneuvers to the theme music from the Hollywood film Born Free as audiences listened to the melody booming through the airshow public address system.
A 1973 press statement issued by Fred Hufnagel quoted this assessment of McCray's performances: "His sailplane becomes a baton in the hands of the maestro conducting a symphony of nature and machine in perfect harmony." The United States Air Force Thunderbird Demonstration Team named McCray the "Master of Unpowered Flight" and his skill at piloting the 2-22 earned him a rare waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to perform with no minimum altitude restriction. This certified that McCray could legally operate an airplane just a few feet above the ground in controlled airspace, during high-speed and unusual maneuvers. Born in Front Royal, Virginia, young McCray had begun flying a Curtiss Robing during the 1930s. By 1968, he had amassed more than 10,000 flying hours in many different aircraft. McCray lost his life in September 1973 in the crash of a powered, aerobatic monoplane he was flying at Sao Paulo, Brazil. His widow, Helen J. McCray, donated her husband's glider to the National Air and Space Museum on March 13, 1975.