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Marion Unruh designed and built the Pretty Prairie III as the third in a series of airplanes he had built and named after his hometown in Pretty Prairie, Kansas. The design for the third airplane in the series originated in 1951, but Marion’s military career slowed down the building process. The Pretty Prairie III was partly constructed in Japan while Marion was on a military tour of duty. The airplane was completed after Marion returned to the US and the Pretty Prairie III finally flew its first flight in September of 1957.

Roughly comparable to a Rose “Parakeet” in size, it was equally as aerobatic, and two-place at that. The Pretty Prairie spun well and would recover from a one turn spin, hands off, in about three quarters of a turn. It rolled, looped, and snap rolled with the best of them.

The airplane was built of wood and welded steel tubular construction and was fabric covered throughout. The stabilizer was ground adjustable and the Pretty Prairie could carry a 24-gallon fuel supply. The rear seat was mounted a few inches higher than the front to provide better vision for the pilot, who had to fly solo from the rear. The Pretty Prairie was powered by a 125 hp Menasco D4-87 four-cylinder in-line engine.

Russell Brown acquired the airplane in 1964 and flew the Pretty Prairie frequently. Russell took his airplane to the Rockford fly-in for three consecutive years of his ownership. In 1968 the Pretty Prairie was getting old and was due for a complete teardown and rebuild. At that time, the airplane was the only example of Marion’s craftsmanship still flying.

After Marion’s death, Russell had lost enthusiasm for the airplane and decided to donate the Pretty Prairie instead of repairing it. Russell flew the airplane to Hales Corners himself, making emergency landings in Excelsior Springs and Rockford. EAA Chapter members at the airport in Excelsior Springs helped Russell flush the fuel system and clean the carburetor screens. The Pretty Prairie spent the night in Rockford while some of Russell’s friends helped him perform a more permanent fix to the engine. The next day, Russell flew the rest of the way to Hales Corners where the airplane touched down at its final resting ground.

Russell Brown donated the Pretty Prairie to EAA in 1968.

Unruh Pretty Prairie Special III Unruh Pretty Prairie Special III

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