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Beechcraft C17L Staggerwing

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This object is on display in the Golden Age of Flight exhibition at the National Mall building.


The Model 17, the first aircraft produced by the new Beech Aircraft Company of Wichita, Kansas, was a gamble for president Walter Beech and vice-president Ted Wells who was chief designer of the aircraft. Produced during the depths of the Great Depression, this expensive aircraft was designed as a high-speed, comfortable business airplane. The gamble was successful with 781 Beech 17s produced in eight different series. The aircraft was technologically advanced for its time, and the negative staggered wing arrangement, which improved the pilot's visibility from the aircraft and the airplane's gentle stall characteristics, also contributed to the design's classic beauty.

The Beechcraft Staggerwing in the National Air and Space Museum, serial number 93, was manufactured on July 3, 1936, and registered as NC15840. It was a Model C17B powered with a 285-hp Jacobs L-5M engine. The original owner of the aircraft was E.E. Aldrin (father of astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin), who worked for Standard Oil Development Company in New York City. With a list price of $10,260, the aircraft was equipped with numerous extras, including expensive instrumentation, electrical bonding, rear seat parachutes, a magneto-equipped engine, and a custom paint scheme, using the colors and logo of Standard Oil. From 1936 to 1980, NC 15840 had 19 different owners including oil companies, charter and sightseeing businesses and the CAP, for coastal patrol duty during World War II. Desert Air Parts donated the aircraft in 1981.

Donated by Desert Air Parts, Inc.

Manufacturer: Beech Aircraft Corporation

Date: 1932-1948

Country of Origin: United States of America

Dimensions: Wingspan: 9.75 m (32 ft)
Length: 7.44 m (24 ft 5 in)
Height: 2.59 m (8 ft 6 in)
Weight, Empty: 827 kg (1825 lb)
Weight, Gross: 1425.6 (3,165 lb)
Top Speed: 402.3 km/h (250 mph)
Engine: Jacobs L-4MB, 225 hp

Materials: Fuselage: steel tube with fabric cover

Physical Description:NC15840. Five-place executive biplane with distinctive negative "staggered" wings. Jacobs L-4MB radial engine. Staggerwings were also used as a racing and World War II military transport aircraft.

Inventory number: A19810023000

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