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Once the idea of using light aircraft for Army liaison and communication duties had been established, the Stinson Sentinel was developed. In 1942, the Sentinel was designated O-62, but was changed to L-5 after the first 275 airplanes had been delivered. Deliveries of the initial version of the L-5 totaled 1,713 and orders for later variants brought the total to over 3,000, making the L-5 the second most used of all Army aircraft, just behind the Piper L-4 Cub.

Popularly known as the “flying jeep”, the L-5 was used as a utility airplane during World War II. The L-5 had a two seat tandem cockpit, a slightly larger fuselage, higher operating weights due to military equipment, and military standard instruments and communications equipment. EAA’s variant, the L-5E, had provisions for a K-20 reconnaissance camera in the fuselage similar to the L-5C, but had drooping ailerons which operated in conjunction with the flaps.

The L-5 was as safe and spin resistant as the state of the art could make it at the time. The airplane could execute a very short take-off in an emergency situation and was an exceptionally tractable aircraft. If the L-5 went into a full stall, the nose would settle until it was level with the horizon and the airplane would float on its propeller slipstream. It was thus possible to make a complete 360 degree turn without losing any altitude.

After seeing an ad in an issue of Trade-A-Plane in 1970, L. Vance Hester offered the highest bid and bought the L-5E from an auction held by the US Air Force. Vance fully restored the airplane and helped others restore their L-5s. One of Vance’s friends, “Buck” Hilbert, acquired the L-5E and donated it to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 1983. Both Buck and Vance were proud to know the treasured L-5E would be preserved among fellow World War II aircraft.

Stinson L-5E-1VW Stinson L-5E-1VW

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