Stinson’s Golden Age Vol. 1 & 2; The Voyager
John Swick’s account of Stinson’s Golden Age is more than the history of the Stinson Aircraft Corp. founded in 1926. While the primary focus of these two volumes is on the history of the popular Stinson Voyager Model 108, there is more to the story and it’s all here. Each volume is filled with photos, illustrations and charts. The author gives the reader a glimpse into Stinson’s aircraft company, how it evolved, how it succeeded, and how it eventually faded away after changing hands several times.
The author’s technique of relating the company’s history with the events of the day add much to the book’s appeal. He relates how the Model 105 came about and how it was designed as such. How it evolved into the Model 108. Swick relates the company’s history to Germany’s invasion of Poland, America’s neutrality, Pearl Harbor and President Roosevelt’s message to Congress and shows how those events affected sales and delivery of aircraft.
What happened in the Stinson Aircraft Corp. is a glimpse into what was happening to the general aviation industry during the golden age of aviation – the depression years, WWII, and the aviation industry’s struggle for survival after the war.
In Vol. 1 the author relates how the Model 105 was created to fill a unique niche in the aviation market with an appealing price and how it evolved into the Model 108. The author shares how the company survived financially during difficult depression years of the 1930s. WWII put a damper on production of general aviation aircraft for civilian use, but Stinson, Piper and others survived by building trainers, liaison aircraft, and subassemblies for military aircraft. The author explains how Stinson supported the war effort, replaced men who went off to war with “Wanda the Welder,” and met production schedules.
Vol. 2 continues the Stinson story from 1948 and beyond. Swick tells of the improvements made to the Voyager and how it evolved into the Station Wagon. He has compiled several interesting stories by Stinson dealers (such as the flying doctor), magazine articles, advertisements, production data, etc., to complete the story and to give the reader a real insight into the company’s management thinking, flight testing, design evolution, and its image with its customers.
The author has a chapter on the conversion of the Voyager into a tricycle gear Stinson, a chapter on production and shipments from 1939 to 1950, another chapter has Henry B. Lent’s very interesting 1946 book Fly it Away. Surprisingly to most people, there is even a chapter on Consolidated Vultee experimental aircraft, because that is part of the Stinson story, too.
The foreword for these two volumes was written by Robert L. Taylor, founder of the Antique Airplane Association. He wrote, “The in-depth research by John, that is so well done about some missing links in my own Stinson research, will be of great help to any who seek facts rather than the ongoing fables often heard wherever aviation enthusiasts gather…”
While these two volumes are sold separately, one needs both volumes to get the complete story. The author brings together all that he has gathered through years of research and made it into a unique reference resource about Stinson’s Golden Age. Swick ties aircraft production, sales, and world events together, making this an interesting read as well as a useful reference source.