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RYAN STA “Super Sport” – N17349

Ryan Aeronautical Company first introduced the ST in 1934, which went on to become one of the biggest surprises in airplane development. Nothing much happened with the ST in its first year, but then the little airplane began selling faster than it could be produced. Before the shock of the first surprise wore off, Ryan’s second surprise, the STA, was brewing on the assembly floor.

The Ryan STA “Super Sport” was practically identical to the ST, except with a 125 hp Menasco C-4 engine instead of the ST’s 95 hp engine. The fuselage framework was an oval monocoque structure constructed of alloy rings covered with Alclad metal sheet. The wings were made of a welded steel tube structure consisting of solid spruce spar beams and alloy wing ribs and were bolted to the bottom side of the fuselage and covered in fabric. The wings supported the landing gear, the outer wing panels, and all the bracing wire trusses.

The STA was used to set various records, and it wasn’t long before everyone in aviation knew what the STA was capable of. Peter Dana flew an STA from California to the east coast in 22 hours and 6 minutes for a lightplane record. Jovial “Tex” Rankin set an altitude record for lightplanes by climbing to 19,800 feet over Florida in his STA. Tex also won the International Aerobatic Championship in the STA and became a demonstration pilot for the Ryan STA in 1936. The aircraft first attracted people with its beauty and then thrilled them with its remarkable performance. Ryan Aeronautical Company sold a good number of STAs, manufacturing the airplanes for more than ten years.

In 1938, the Guatemalan government bought six STMs, which were STAs equipped with two wing-mounted Lewis machine guns and enlarged cockpit cutouts. After World War II, Sam Poole exchanged the value of work he had performed on a Guatemalan Cessna for a large lot of disassembled Ryans and one Waco light fighter. Sam was only interested in the Waco, and sold the rest of the lot to Lt. Col. Edward F. Ortowski. From the parts, Ortowski was able to assemble an airworthy STA, which he had registered under the number N17349.

After about a year of flying, the STA was extensively damaged in a ground accident. Before the reassembly could be completed, Edward was killed in an airplane crash. Ortowski’s widow put the STA up for sale, and it was purchased by Walter Hill. He restored the STA to its original configuration and paint scheme and donated the STA to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 2003.

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