In 1925, three influential men joined together, each bringing their own unique specialty to the table and formed the Travel Air Manufacturing Company.  These men are now legendary in the aviation community.  Their names were Clyde CESSNA, Lloyd STEARMAN, and Walter BEECH.  Travel Air went on to become the most prolific manufacturer of aircraft from 1926 through 1930.  No company built, sold, and flew more aircraft in that era, period.  If you were the Great Gatsby and wanted the best, a new Travel Air was the ship for you.  One of the more popular models manufactured by Travel Air was the model E-4000 and was introduced in July of 1929.  Gone were the antiquated “elephant ear” ailerons that made all Travel Air biplanes easily recognizable.  Powered with the latest in radial engine technology, these aircraft were used by sportsman, businessmen, flight schools and airshow pilots across the nation.  Of the nearly one hundred E-4000‘s produced, there are but 19 examples left of this model on the FAA registry, and out of those 19, perhaps only 8 are airworthy and continue to take to the skies today. Waldo's Travel Air E-4000 was manufactured on October 4, 1929 and was purchased by the T.A.T. Flying Service of Fort Worth Texas on October 24, 1929.  This same day would forever be remembered as Black Thursday and the beginning of the Great Depression.  TAT or Transcontinental Air Transport was, at the time, the only company to offer inter-continental transportation from New York to Los Angeles.  “Coast to Coast By Train and Plane” was their motto and the trip took 48 hours to complete!  Our Travel Air, NC691K, was used by T.A.T. in their daily operations for the next two years. NC691K spent the next 20 years of its life bouncing around from one owner to the next and ultimately was converted to a crop duster in 1948.  It labored over the fields of Texas and Mississippi dusting cotton with sulphur until it was involved in an accident in the early 1960‘s and put out of commission for the next 45 years.  The remains of NC691K were ultimately purchased by Gary Hodges of Portland, Oregon in 1987 who was committed to having the ship brought back to life for OUR generation to admire.  Mr. Hodges deserves all the credit for making his dream of owning and flying this beautiful Travel Air a reality. THE TRAVEL AIR MANUFACTURING COMPANY only built a small number of planes that were designed and approved by the U.S. Government to be equipped with either wheels for land use, or EDO floats to land and takeoff from water.   Floatplanes were a common sight back in the 1930’s when airports were few and far apart.  In this modern era, local airports are plentiful and the need for the float plane is a almost non-existent.  Not since the 1930’s has the public had the opportunity to experience flight in a 1920’s vintage open cock-pit biplane on floats.  Our Travel Air is returning to its’ T.A.T. roots of transporting people, this time back in time, to an era when flying on and off of lakes and rivers was all the rage.  NC691K is the only commercially operated open cockpit vintage biplane to offer this type of service in the entire United States, if not the world.    It is currently undergoing modifications at AeroCraftsman.

Waldo's Travel Air

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Hi, I flew the Stearman last year in Kalamazoo, MI. It was a great ride bringing flying back to its roots. A flight that I will remember always! And if opportunity comes again I would love to go up again.

- Curtis Doell

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