Mystery Airplane: April 2015
The famous Italian aircraft manufacturer Piaggio has existed in three forms. Begun in 1915 at Genoa by industrialist Rinaldo Piaggio, it built parts for Caproni bombers and Macchi flying boats during World War I. Then it specialized in multi-engined aircraft until the armistice in 1943. Re-formed in 1946, Piaggio built trainers, including the P-148 and P-149, for military use. It was restructured again in 1964.
Derived from the two seat P-148 tail dragger that first flew in 1951, the retractable, tricycle gear P-149 was first flown on 19 June 1953, powered by a 270 hp Lycoming O-480. It has a top speed of 192 mph and a service ceiling of over 19,000 feet. Two or three passengers can be carried behind the pilot and instructor.
Production began for the Luftwaffe as a basic trainer/liaison aircraft in 1956. Seventy-two P-149D were delivered to Germany by May 1957, followed by 190 aircraft manufactured under license by Focke-Wulf. These served with three Luftwaffe training schools and as squadron hacks. Some were later provided to Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda as part of German military assistance programs. The last German aircraft were retired by March 1990
I photographed Nl49LT at Oshkosh in 2001. Serial number 321, it served with the Luftwaffe, before going to the Swissair Aviation School in September 1970 as HB-EFZ. Swissair retired it in June 1997. The 321 was issued its FAA Certificate of Airworthiness on 22 December 2000 and registered N149LT. It is currently based in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Carolina Warbird Services.
Regular Ed Wells wins this month. Nathan Frost, Dave Lundren, and Joe Connell also nailed the Piaggio. Blue skies and fair winds!