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Aeronca Aircraft Corp
Aeronautical Corporation of America

Formed from Roché-Dohse organization, Lunken Airport, Cincinnati OH originally in November 1928, the Aeronca Aircraft Corporation was founded November 11, 1928 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Backed by the financial and political support of the prominent Taft family and future Ohio senator Robert A. Taft who was one of the firm's directors, Aeronca became the first company to build a commercially successful general aviation aircraft.

Jean A. Roche was a senior aeronautical engineer for the US Army Air Service, and by 1929 Aeronca had bought production rights to his recreational aircraft design. Production began with the Jean A. Roche-designed Aeronca C-2 monoplane, often called the "Flying Bathtub", in 1929. The next major model was the Scout of 1937, a two-seater, which was developed into the Chief and Super Chief the next year.

In 1937 there was a major flood at the Lunken Airport, resulting in the entire airport area being washed away. Aeronca's factory was destroyed, along with the tooling and almost all of the very early blueprints and drawings. At this time a decision was made to move the operation to a more stable area. Middletown, Ohio was chosen, and the company has remained there ever since. All of the airplanes produced from the start of production in 1929 to 1937 are known as the "Lunken" Aeroncas. The first Aeronca built in Middletown was produced on June 5, 1940, and after this time all Aeroncas were built there.

The name was changed to Aeronca Aircraft Corp in 1941. Quantity production of Fairchild trainers and liaison aircraft ceased 1944, and for postwar production the company developed new types. Aeronca had license for the Erco "two control" system.

The Defender, a tandem trainer version of the Chief with a higher rear seat, was used in training many of the pilots who flew in World War II. Several observation and liaison aircraft designs were also produced during and after the war, including the L-3, L-16 and O-58.

In 1945, following the end of World War II, Aeronca returned to civilian production with two new models, the 7AC Champion and the 11AC Chief. While the Champ shared its tandem seating arrangement with the prewar tandem trainer and the Chief shared its name with the prewar Chief designs, both were new designs. A benefit of the concurrent development was that the new designs had about 80% of their parts in common. Nevertheless, the Champ was favoured by the public, evidenced by its outselling its sibling at a rate of 4 to 1. Between 1945 and 1951, nearly 8,000 Champions were manufactured; while over the same period, approximately 2,000 Chiefs were produced.

Ended aircraft production in 1951, but the design was continued by Bellanca and Champion. Since 1950 company has been a subcontractor, but towards the end of the 1960s undertook, in conjunction with American Jet Industries Inc., development of a light strike version of the Super Pinto, built originally as a jet primary trainer. In January 1978 entered an agreement to build the Foxjet ST600 twin-turbofan light transport aircraft designed by Tony Team Industries Inc., but later terminated due to lack of WR-44 engine availability.

Aeronca built components for aerospace companies including Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed and Airbus. In its 23-year history as a general aviation and military aviation manufacturer, Aeronca produced 17,408 aircraft spanning 55 different models.

In 1954 Aeronca sold the Champion design to the new Champion Aircraft Corporation of Osceola, Wisconsin, which continued building variants of the Champion as well as the derivative design, the Citabria. The aircraft design was acquired again by the Bellanca Aircraft Company in 1970 and again to American Champion in 1988, where it remained in production.

Aeronca became a division of Magellan Aerospace, producing aircraft, missile, and space vehicle components at the same location adjacent to Middletown’s Hook Field.


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