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TRAVEL AIR 2000 – N241

Travel Air was formed in 1925 by a group of business men including Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech, and Frank Innes, Jr. in Wichita, Kansas. The first airplane was designated Model 1000 and was designed as a replacement for pilots who had been operating air-weary surplus trainers left over from World War I.

The second Travel Air was designated Model 2000 and was the company’s first production airplane. The new model had an enlarged cockpit to accommodate a pilot and two passengers for commercial flight and was fitted for dual controls so it could be used as a trainer.

The wings were of conventional design, built entirely of spruce and laminated spruce spars. The ribs were also made of spruce lightened between spars. The fuselage was fabric covered and built entirely of welded seamless steel tubing braced with tubing from the passengers’ seat forward. Originally, the Travel Air 2000 was powered by a 90 hp Curtiss OX-5 engine. The standard color scheme for the 2000 was a “Travel Air Blue” fuselage and tail group with silver wings.

The Travel Air 2000 slightly resembled a Fokker D.VII and the designers were accused of trying to copy the German airplane from time to time. In the late 1920s, Howard Hughes needed a fleet of Fokker D.VII airplanes to portray a German squadron of 1918 for his classic aviation film “Hell’s Angels”. Howard managed to obtain four or five genuine Fokker D.VII airplanes and filled in the rest of the “German” fleet with Travel Air 2000 and 3000 airplanes that were painted to match the Fokkers. As a result, the 2000 and 3000 earned the nickname “Wichita Fokker”.

Dave Jameson donated the first Travel Air ever built to EAA in 1972. This Travel Air, nicknamed “Ol’ Number One”, was Walter Beech’s first airplane design and was one of the first civilian aircraft to obtain a registration number, C-241, from the Department of Commerce. Little is known of 241’s history, though the airplane fell through many owners and many restorations. At the time of donation, the Travel Air was in a Model 4000 configuration, but was converted back to a 2000 for historical purposes. The airplane is currently on loan to the Staggerwing Beech Museum.

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