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Fairchild 24H – NC16902

The Fairchild 24, introduced in 1932, represented an early attempt to provide comfortable transportation for the owner/pilot. Most aircraft of the day allowed the pilot and passengers to enjoy the “wind-in-the-face, open-cockpit experience”, but an introductory brochure for the Fairchild 24 specifically noted that, “Special clothing is not required.” Luxuries such as cabin heat and roll-down windows enhanced the private air travel experience.

Although originally advertised as an enclosed cabin version of the two-place Fairchild 22, a rear passenger seat was soon added to the model 24. By the late thirties, most Fairchild 24s were legitimate four place airplanes. Most of the early Fairchild 24s were powered by a Warner radial engine of 125 or 145 horsepower, although a few carried the Menasco in-line powerplant. In 1936, the Fairchild-produced Ranger inverted in-line engine was introduced, and purchasers were offered a choice enignes.

The comfort and capability of the Fairchild 24 made it a favorite of the Hollywood crowd, including personalities such as Robert Taylor, Tyrone Power, Mary Pickford, Jimmy Stewart, and Edgar Bergen. During World War II, Fairchild produced a military version designated the UC-61, which was used for coastal patrol and light utility transport. The Fairchild 24 also saw service with Canada and Great Britain.

The museum’s Fairchild 24H,NC16902, is the Deluxe model produced in 1937. In that year, purchasers were offered a choice of the Standard model, or the luxurious Deluxe model. The Deluxe version included amenities such as plush upholstery, roll-down windows, wing flaps, and extra instrumentation. In fact, the weight of these extras resulted in the Deluxe being a three-place airplane as opposed to the four-place Standard. While originally equipped with a 150 hp Ranger 6-390-D3, NC16902 now sports a 175 hp Ranger 6-440-C2. At some point in the plane’s history, the single rear seat was replaced with a wide seat, providing seating for four.

NC16902 was meticulously restored during the late nineties, and featured on the cover of VINTAGE AIRPLANE magazine in September 1998. The classic art-deco lines of the Fairchild 24, combined with its stately flying qualities make it a sought after property in the antique airplane market. While the Fairchild 24 epitomizes luxury air transportation of the thirties, it can still be flown and enjoyed in the twenty-first century.

Donated by: Lou Frejlach

This aircraft researched by Bob Siegfried

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