Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

The Mystery Airplane Contest

Fairchild XNQ-1/T-31

 

September 1, 2017

Tom Lymburn

Fairchild XNQ-1/T-31

Designed by Armand Thielblot to an April 1945 US Navy specification for a new primary trainer, the XNQ-1 mockup was inspected in September 1945. Construction of three, two to fly and one for static testing, was authorized by the Navy. The prototype, Bu-75725, was first flown by Richard Henson on 7 October 1946, at Hagerstown, Maryland. It was joined in the test program by Bu-75726 in February 1947.

Testing by Navy and Air Force pilots garnered good reviews. The Air Force gave it the designation T-31. It did well in fly offs against the Beech T-34 and the Temco T-35. Congressional funding issues derailed the Air Force's order, and further conflict over whether the aircraft should have a tricycle gear rather than continue as a tail dragger, clouded things more, until finally, lack of funding sealed the Fairchild's fate. Production aircraft would have cost about $50,000 a piece. Powered by a 300 hp Lycoming R-680, the XNQ-1 had a top speed of 166 mph with a landing speed of 56. It had a service ceiling over 19,000 feet and a range of 880 miles. The first prototype, re-engined with a 320 hp Lycoming O-580 flat eight, was lost in a crash in 1950.

I photographed Bu-75726, N5726, at Oshkosh in 1992. It had survived, gradually deteriorating until saved and restored by Dominick and Ann Pellegreno. It was restored on their Iowa farm and flew again in June 1992. Today, the Pellegrenos keep the rare Fairchild in Rhome, Texas. In 1967, Ann Pellegreno flew a former Trans-Canada Airlines Lockheed L. 10 around the world. She told this story in World Flight: The Earhart Trail, published by Iowa State University Press in 1971. It's a great read!

Congratulations to Wings of the North on this year's AirExpo at Flying Cloud. Despite the heat, there was a lot of great flying and good crowds. Thanks to all those who stopped at the announcer's stand. Blue skies and safe flights to all.

I thought this would be a tough one. Not so. This month's winner is Mark Holliday of Lake Elmo. Other correct responses came from Timothy Aanerud, Joe Connell, Daryl Dressler, Michael Johnson, Dave Lundgren, Bill Mecozzi, Patrick Moore, and Ed Wells.

 

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