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Frank Smith designed and built the prototype DSA-1 Miniplane in eight months of spare time with the assistance from his close friend Lee Wainscott. The test flight took place on October 29, 1956, and from the first time the Miniplane took off, it handled like a dream. The DSA-1 became very popular very quickly and remained in the spotlight for over thirty years.

The DSA designation stood for “Darned Small Airplane”, and with a length of just over fifteen feet, an upper wing span of seventeen feet, and a height of just five feet, the Miniplane certainly lived up to its name.

The DSA-1 also lived up to the hype. The Miniplane was engineered with the amateur constructor and pilot in mind and was built for full aerobatic performance. The prototype DSA-1 was powered by a 100 hp Lycoming O-235 engine that could cruise around 120 miles per hour. The airplane featured a steel tube structure fuselage and welded steel tube tail surfaces that were all covered with fabric. The wings were made of wood spars and ribs that were also fabric covered with aluminum leading edges and steel tube wing tip bows.

In August of 1959, Frank’s old friend, Tom Messick, flew the prototype to Rockford for the fly-in. Flying 4,200 miles round trip, Tom received a trophy for flying the longest distance to the fly-in. After showing off the Miniplane, many people left the fly-in inspired to build similar little biplanes.

Frank’s wife, Dorothy, maintained her interest in aviation and was very active in the support and promotion of aircraft homebuilding. Dorothy took it upon herself to sell the plans for the Miniplane after Frank passed away, and Frank and Dorothy’s son, Donald, took over after Dorothy could no longer keep up with the business.

Dorothy loaned the prototype DSA-1 to the EAA Museum in 1973. In 1988 Donald officially donated the Miniplane to the EAA AirVenture Museum in loving memory of his mother.

Smith DSA-1 Miniplane Table of Contents

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