In 1909 the Johnson brothers (of marine outboard motor fame) built their own aircraft. Quite impressive considering they had never actually seen one before! They also built their own design 2 stroke, 60 hp engine to power it.
When finished, they discovered the machine to be too tail
heavy and ended up replacing the heavy wooden fuselage with a duralium (an
early type of aluminium) one.
The aircraft first flew in 1911 and flew regularly most
weeks on demonstration flights, earning the brothers up to $600 per weekend. It
flew like this for three years with no accidents.
The design and performance was years ahead of its time
(and what anyone else was doing). This combined with the fact the brothers were
so far located from the rest of the populace, their monoplane never generated
enough attention to become a saleable item. The aircraft rotted away in a barn
whilst the brothers turned their efforts to a more lucrative market – outboard
engines for boats.
This aircraft was the first monoplane in America. It was
also the first to use aluminium in its primary construction. It was also the
first successful tricycle gear aircraft and the first to be fitted with a
The TAVAS example is the only reproduction of this
aircraft in the world. It was built by Herbert Seiser in South Africa and
donated to TAVAS in mid 2014.
Full details and history on this incredible aircraft and
the Johnsons and the reproduction, can be found in issues number 9 of the TAVAS
newsletter, free to members.
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