Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

Mystery Airplane: September 2016


Tom Lymburn

Bellanca 14-13 Crusair

Giuseppe Bellanca came to New York from Sicily in 1911 with a degree in engineering. By 1914 he was running a flight school at Mineola, NY. One of his students went on to become a Caproni bomber pilot in WWI and later mayor of New York City. That student was Fiorello LaGuardia.

Bellanca believed an aircraft's function was to transport people and payloads efficiently. His Columbia high wing monoplane set an endurance record of 51 hours and 11 minutes flown by Clarence Chamberlain and Bert Acosta in April 1927. This same aircraft, flown by Chamberlain and Charles Levin, set a world distance record of 3905 miles in June 1927.

On 4 July 1927, Giuseppe Mario Bellanca was honored by being on the cover of Time magazine. Other radial engine high wing cabin monoplanes followed, including the Skyrocket, Pacemaker, Airbus, Aircruiser, and the Army's C-27. During WWII, Bellanca manufactured parts for Helldivers, Liberators, Martin Mariners and Marauders, and the Curtiss C-46.

Hoping to cash in on the perceived need for high speed personal aircraft, Bellanca introduced the Cruisair 14-13, with Approved Type Certificate #773 of 25 September 1946. Built with a welded steel tube fuselage and tail assembly and spruce wing spars with plastic bonded mahogany plywood covering, the Franklin powered 14-13 carried four at a cruising speed of 150 mph at 2500 feet for 600 miles.

I photographed N86786 at Little Falls in August 1984. Today, it is registered to Michael Goldschmidt of Swanzey, New Hampshire.

This month's winner, Ron Richardson, knew it by its nickname, the "Cardboard Constellation." Others who weren't fooled include Dave Lundgren, Lynn Hagen, Graydon Carlson, David Dixon, John Rowles, Bob Heavirland, Joe Connell, Michael Johnson, and Burt Ackerman, whose dad owned one and remembered the gear required 32 turns of a hand crank to get it retracted!

Thanks to all who stopped at the announcer's stand at AirExpo. It was good to see so many old Planes of Fame colleagues. Blues skies and calm winds!

Tom Lymburn


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