Model Airplane News|
Travel Air Model 2000 Biplane
Model Airplane News Cover Art for March, 1956
by Jo Kotula
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It was designed by Lloyd Stearman with the local airport operator in mind as a rugged, all-purpose trainer with one of the most economical engines available. The first production Travel Air biplane established a good reputation in the Ford National Reliability Air Tour in 1925. When Model 2000 production ceased in 1930, 1,550 had been built.
Photos of the Travel Air Model 2000 Biplane
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It is not surprising that the Travel Air was a good airplane since Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna, and Lloyd Stearman were all involved in its design and production. This resource of talent produced an aircraft that was known for reliability, ease of maintenance, and a delight to fly. With a range of 425 miles, barnstormers could hop passenger rides in and out of small fields all day. Due to the large balanced aielrons, this plane was also known as "Old Elephant Ears".
Because of a superficial resemblance to Fokker D.VIIs, Travel Airs frequently represented Fokkers in the World War I flying films of the 1920s and 1930s, earning them the nickname "Wichita Fokker". In Canada the Travel Air was used for training and some charter work. One was used as a corporate aircraft by the Walter M. Lowney Co.
Bush pilots in Canada and Alaska discovered the ruggedness, load carrying ability, and dependability of the Travel Air, and it became the bush plane of choice for many. One of the more famous companies to use Travel Airs was Johnson's Flying Service of Missoula, Montana. Once described as an "air force of old planes", the company used both Ford Tri Motors and Travel Airs on floats or wheels to haul smoke jumpers and freight to remote regions. Because of their classic design, many Model 2000s have been restored and are still flying.
Here is a video of the Travel Air Model 2000 Biplane that had been converted to steam power by two San Francisco entrepreneurs:
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