The Pointe

MidPointe Library's Official Blog

Local History #tbt blog - A Piece of Middletown History Soars at the Smithsonian

Did you know that a piece of local aviation history has found a home in one of the most prestigious museums in the world?

The Aeronca C-2, manufactured by the local company of the same name (formerly the Aeronautical Corporation of America now known as Magellan Aerospace), occupies air space in a companion facility of the renowned Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The historic plane is located in Chantilly, Virginia, at the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Suspended above visitors from around the world, the C-2 still proudly bears registration number X626N and the bright orange and yellow colors with the “rakish stripe running the length of the fuselage.” Its maiden flight took place on October 20, 1929. *

The C-2 harkens back to 1927, when American Charles A. “Lucky Lindy” Lindbergh ignited public interest in aviation with his first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. A year later Aeronca was incorporated in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the company setting up operations at the city’s Lunken Airport. **

The museum plane was “the first C-2 produced by Aeronca” and was given the serial number 2 as a way of distinguishing it from the hand-built prototype designed by French engineer Jean A. Roche several years before Aeronca was founded. *

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Roche had relied on “his experience designing a training glider for the Army Air Service at McCook Field [in Ohio] when he began designing his ‘original’ airplane. Construction of the Roche original was done in his garage at 28 Watts Street, Dayton, Ohio...John Q. Dohse, who was an assistant to Roche at McCook, was brought in as a partner…” **

On October 20, [1929], the first production C-2 (s/n 2 X626N) -- the plane on exhibit at the Air and Space Museum -- made its initial flight. Nine days later a second production airplane, X627N, flew. **

“With these two airplanes, an aggressive sales campaign began...Everywhere they were shown, the little planes were received with enthusiasm. Orders began to come in...These were Depression times, but nevertheless Aeronca sold 90 airplanes in 1930... However, the market was noticeably limited, mainly because of the C-2 limitations and discomfort in flying anything but the best and warmest weather. A total of 167 C-2s were built, the last in 1931…” **

Following the devastating floods of the late 1930s at Lunken Field that consumed its operation, Aeronca moved in 1940 to its current location in Middletown, Ohio, adjacent to what is now Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field. **

Today the company is Magellan Aerospace, a “global, integrated aerospace company that provides complex assemblies and systems solutions to aircraft and engine manufacturers, and defence and space agencies worldwide,” according to its website.

References:

For information on the Aeronca C-2 exhibit in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum click on: https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/aeronca-c-2

For information on the current location of the Aeronca C-2 click on: https://airandspace.si.edu/udvar-hazy-center

*  From “Aeronca C-2, The Story of the Flying Bathtub,” by Jay P. Spenser, Volume 2 of the “Famous Aircraft of the National Air and Space Museum” series published in 1978 by the Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Air and Space Museum. Available for reading in the Ohio Room at MidPointe Library Middletown.

** From “Aeronca, a Photo History” by Bob Hollenbaugh and John Houser, published as the first book in the “Aviation Heritage Photo Series” by Aviation Heritage Books, Destin, Florida. Available for reading in the Ohio Room at MidPointe Library Middletown.

Photo credit: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/aeronca-c-2)

MidPointe Library is proud to present a history of Aeronca -- now Magellan Aerospace -- in photo and interactive touchscreen displays now through September at its Middletown location, 125 South Broad Street.