1. Matty Laird was proud to have graduated from the eighth grade. As the eldest of six children, he helped his widowed mother support their family by taking a job after graduation as a bank “bell hop.” His banking career was short-lived, though, since Matty’s aircraft modeling hobby soon grew into a business building full-size aircraft.
2. Glen Curtiss had experience building motorcycle engines, both air and water cooled. For aircraft use he designed a water-cooled V-8 engine in 1912, calling it his Model O. He redesigned it in 1913 to correct valve problems and reportedly planned to call it the Model O-Plus. But a printing error in alignment of the plus sign caused it to be known as the OX instead of the O+. Further design improvements were numbered and the design was frozen in 1917 as the Model OX-5.
3. Matty Laird had originally planed to call his new design the “Laird Wichita Tractor.” Its first test flight was at 5:43 PM on April 8, 1920. Observing the flight was William “Buster” Lassen, a former Army pilot who ran a local hotel. Lassen ran up to Laird after the test flight and exclaimed “It flies just like a Swallow.” Matty liked the sound of Swallow so much that he quickly dropped the clumsy “Tractor” name. The commercial success of the Swallow biplane later led to renaming the company as the Swallow Airplane Manufacturing Company.
4. Lloyd Stearman had sold the company that bore his name in 1929. It became United Aircraft and later was bought by Boeing. Lloyd Stearman was not involved with the thousands of WWII “Stearman” trainers, which were actually built by Boeing.