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Jun 10 2013

Ariel Model B

20130610-113724.jpgI have a penchant for old magazines. I keep it pretty tightly contained to old airplane magazines. One of my favorites is the old EAA Experimenter and Sport Aviation magazines. In addition to the straight forward articles, and a nearly complete lack of commercials (ads for unrelated products), they document the EAA’s formative years.

In reading through the October 1959 issue of Sport Aviation, I spotted an airplane I hadn’t seen before on page 16. Photographed by Randy Barnes at the 1959 EAA fly-in in Rockford, Il, was an airplane captioned “Stearman Model B owned by Richard Ritenaur, Polo, Ill”

20130610-113810.jpgSo, I Googled it. Nothing. All I got were Stearman biplanes. So, I went back to the magazine, and on page 23 was a drawing in the “Straub Sketchbook” article, which referred to the Model B as an “Aeriel”. So, back to Google. This time I started getting somewhere.

What I found is that the airplane was the second aircraft manufactured by the Ariel Aircraft Company, of which Glenn A. Stearman was the president. Glenn was cousin to Lloyd Stearman, the Stearman we all think about when we think of Stearman. To me, this means the EAA caption is incorrect, and the airplane should have been labeled as “Ariel Model B”. However, current FAA records show this airplane is now owned by the Kansas Aviation Museum, and is registered as a “Stearman Aviation model B”. So, it looks like there was name changing going on in the company’s short existence.

20130610-114404.jpgOf the limited information I found during a short search, the majority was posted on AeroFiles. They indicated that three Ariels were built in 1940-41. The first was the Model A with a 65 hp Lycoming, followed by two Model B’s; one with the 75 hp Continental, and the second with an 80 hp Franklin. The airplane that attended the 1959 fly-in looks to be the first Model B, N32459, which is now in the museum in Kansas.

FAA records indicate that Ariel Model A, NX25471, is now owned by Lon Cottingham of Kingwood, TX, is registered in the Experimental, Amateur Built category, and sports a Lycoming O-320. Talk about a horsepower upgrade! Maybe I’ll send him a letter and see if the airplane is still flying.

-WB

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