The Port Townsend, Washington, Aero Museum occupies several hangers at the Port Townsend Airport. The main gallery displays a collection of rare small aircraft which have been meticulously restored and maintained. With one notable exception, all are airworthy and are flown by the museum staff. Only about half of the museum’s collection is actually on display at any one time. Shown below are some of the museum’s 1920s monoplanes.
1929 Corben Baby Ace:
O.G. Corben of Topeka, Kansas, designed the Baby Ace as a cross between the Heath Parasol and the Pietenpol Sky Scout. While this aircraft was never certified, the aircraft were factory-built and legally flown as unlicensed airplanes in the “identified” category. It has a cruising speed of 115 mph and is regularly flown by youth volunteers at the Port Townsend Aero Museum.
1929 Fairchild 71:
Only 94 of these aircraft were built and today there are only two, including the aircraft shown above, in flying condition. This aircraft has a cruising speed of 100 mph with a maximum speed of 138 mph. It can carry seven people, including the pilot. The Model 71 became a popular airplane for bush plane operators in Canada and the United States as it was reliable, rugged, and well-suited for northern and remote operations.
The aircraft on display in the Port Townsend Aero Museum was originally purchased by Paul R. Braniff for Universal Airlines in Oklahoma City in 1929. The following year, the title was transferred to Braniff Airlines and in 1931 it was sold to American Airways Inc. In 1933 it was sold to Lincoln Air Service in Los Angeles. From 1936 to 1954 it was owned by Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Inc. It is currently owned by Jerry and Peggy Thuotte.
Fairchild Aviation Corporation was founded in 1924 by Sherman Fairchild. In addition to designing and building aircraft, Fairchild also pioneered the commercial use of aerial photography.