| ||The legendary Eddie Stinson died a young and untimely death in 1932 in an aircraft crash, but his manufacturing legacy perhaps best lives on in the beautiful and stylishly developed SR-9 series of eye-catching and popular Stinson Reliants built in 6 models, SR-9A through SR-9F, powered by radial engines. Fuel capacity in all was 76 gallons. The various engines were as follows:|
SR-9A, Lycoming 225 Hp
SR-9B, Lycoming 245 Hp-in N17154
SR-9C, Lycoming 260 Hp
SR-9D, Wright 285 Hp
SR-9E, Wright 350 Hp
SR-9F, Wright 450 Hp
The characteristic beautiful tapered "gullwing" configuration was first built in the 1936 SR-7 Reliant with M-5 airfoil section and a single strut bracing each wing. The initial SR-5 of the SR series in 1933 evolving from the model R one year after Stinson's death had a double strut straight wing without the "gullwing" feature and an angular windshield.
Stinson employed very good aircraft designers and stylists, including Lloyd Skinner, C. R. Irvine and Robert Hall providing classic lines, tractibility and performance in the SR-5,-6,-7,-8 and- 9 series of Reliants.
The immediate predecessor of the entire Reliant series was the 1931 4-place Stinson Junior. The last of the series, the 1938 SR-10 model was designed by the famed Gordon Israel who is known for the Howard DGA aircraft. The military model V-77 Reliants built by Vultee Aircraft (who in 1940 absorbed the Stinson company) for World War II use until 1945 was the culmination of the Stinson Reliant line, with some being lend-leased to Great Britain in the war.
Reliants are very desirable aircraft with pleasant and easy flying characteristics with the feel of a much lighter aircraft. They are highly stable about every axis and give a good ride in rough air. They are a good cross country flyer, having about a 600 mile range with 5 seats standard after the 1938 SR-8B. Two bucket seats are in front with a sling seat for three behind. Cabin space is roomy and comfortable.
Instrument panels were nearly always full IFR instrumented with dual semi-wheel controls standard. The wide stance main undercarriage uses an oleo strut cantilever leg inside the fuselage to soften landing shock. They are a good short field aircraft.
Today, Stinson Reliants are highly prized and considered a very desirable, stunning appearance vintage aircraft to own and operate. Well kept and restored models always draw admiring crowds at flyins and airshows. I know several pilots at SZP who have voiced wanting one. The best mated Reliant performer is probably the SR-9C with the 260 Hp Lycoming radial.
N17154, an SR-9B photographed by me around 1994 or 1995 at CMA was then owned by an elderly gentleman pilot in failing health and it was always flown skillfully by a young woman pilot, with the owner as copilot. Her perfect wheel landings in N17154 were a joy to behold. They both were fun to talk with about the plane which was in wonderful appearance and condition at that time, making the rounds of Southern California airshows and airports as a sort of last hurrah!
Eddie Stinson was born in 1894 in Alabama, and after reading of the Wright brothers first powered flight of the Wright Flyer in 1903 in his early teens he was hooked on aviation and flying. Living only 38 years, he was a test pilot, colorful barnstormer, military flight instructor, civilian FBO and aircraft designer and manufacturer.
The Stinson firm developed other light aircraft just before World war II, including the Model 105 Voyager of 1939, the model 10 Voyager of 1940 leading to the model 108, 108-1, 108-2 and 108-3 Voyagers and Station Wagons of the post-war era again with the Stinson name built by the Stinson Aircraft Division of the Aviation Manufacturing Corporation.
In 1948, Piper aircraft purchased the assets of the Stinson Division of the Consolidated-Vultee Corporation in San Diego, in a curious deal where no money changed hands, only a Piper stock share transfer. Two hundred finished Stinson aircraft went to Piper with the deal. The Twin-Stinson design, later known as the Piper PA-23 Apache, also went with the remarkable deal.