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William E. Player of Salt Lake City, Utah, began designing and building the Sportplane in 1939. Grover Conger flew the initial test flight in 1940 and was impressed with how nice the airplane handled.

The Player, from external appearance, looked like some of the other homebuilt types which were typical of the 1950s, but it was unusual in its construction. The airplane was a parasol type, single-place sport plane with the rare geodetic, or “basket weave,” type of construction. The all-wood geodetic fuselage had plywood former rings in decreasing thicknesses from nose to tail.

The fuselage was slim and looked rather long, and the engine was neatly cowled. The wing was mounted over, but slightly forward, of the cockpit and sat low over the fuselage. Since William was a small proportioned person, the cockpit was more or less designed to his requirements. A larger person would have trouble fitting into the cockpit to fly the aircraft.

The Sportplane was designed for high ground level operations and rugged terrain flying conditions. For this reason, Player included more instruments in the airplane than the average builder at the time. A two-way radio was also installed. The radio may have been included as a safety measure because of the flying conditions around Salt Lake City. The cockpit had a sliding hatch that offered good protection in adverse weather.

In 1955, the Player Sportplane still had the original unbleached muslin fabric and was painted dark red with silver wings and lettering. Shortly after its fifteenth birthday, the plane received a new look and a few updates. Originally, it was powered by a 4-cylinder “Dayton” air-cooled Ford Model “A” conversion, but was later upgraded to a 65 hp Continental A-65 engine. William repainted the airplane and retained the red and silver color scheme, but with a slightly different design.

William flew his Player up until 1968, when he donated it to EAA.

Player Sportplane Player Sportplane

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