An aircraft constructed
by the original manufacturer, or its
licensee, on or after September 1, 1945,
up to and including December 31, 1955.
(As defined by the judging guidelines of
EAA’s Vintage Aircraft Association.)
Shopping for the classics
BY BUDD DAVISSON
THE AIRPLANES PRODUCED during the frantic period right after World War II have
never been more in demand, affordable, or suited to the situation in which aviation now
finds itself. This happy fact is directly attributable to a massive error in marketing projections
made by every aircraft manufacturing company after the war. The assumption that
returning airmen would all want airplanes was totally wrong! Nearly 35,000 little airplanes
were produced in 1946 alone. From then on production was cut in half each year until
1949. In total 61,000 airplanes were produced between 1945 and 1955. In all probability,
that’s more general aviation aircraft than have been produced in the last 30 years. The
foregoing mistake did have its good side. Look at the treasure trove of little airplanes
bequeathed to later generations. The only problem now is deciding which to buy.
The following are descriptions of the more common two-place classics, how they fly, and
what to look for when buying one. I evaluate their performance and handling
by comparing them to the Cessna 150 in the air and the American Champion
Citabria on the ground.
A note about pricing: Because of their age, the variation in pricing
and condition of these aircraft can be very different, so you’ll
find super cheap ones and super expensive ones. The
ranges given are an estimate of the middle of the
bell-shaped curve; you’ll find lots of aircraft on
either side of this estimated range.