Travel Air 4000
In 1925, borrowing a 30x30 foot space in the Kansas Planing Mill in downtown Wichita, a group of intrepid aviation entrepreneurs (Lloyd C. Stearman, Walter H. Beech and Clyde V. Cessna among them) founded the Travel Air Manufacturing Company. That year the company introduced a sleek and highly advanced two-cockpit “Model A” biplane powered by a liquid-cooled OX-5 engine of 90 horsepower. Initially the $3,000 price tag discouraged sales. Over time the Travel Air brand gained a reputation for dependability and excellent flying qualities. The company produced more aircraft during the period 1924-1929 than any other manufacturer. Over 1,700 Travel Airs were in service in 1930 when the company folded under the weight of the Great Depression and loss of its founders, most of whom formed their own aircraft companies based on the experience gained with Travel Air.
This 1927 Travel Air, serial number 185, left the factory with the temperamental OX-5 liquid-cooled engine. Texan Harlan Hill flew it for 10 years. Remnants of its crash-landing in a farmer’s field remained in a barn for decades. Jim "Speed" Miller of Spokane purchased the “bits” in 1995 and began a 7-year restoration incorporating many of the improvements found on the Type 4000. These include an air-cooled Continental R-670 engine producing an additional 135 horsepower and an undercarriage suitable for hard surfaces.
In 2002, Travel Air serial number 185 flew for the first time in 65 years, the oldest Travel Air flying in the U.S. today. The paint scheme commemorates the 1927 National Air Races from New York to Spokane attended by over 100,000 people. A Travel Air took 3rd place.