The sexalicious Model 17 “Staggerwing” - or, swaggerwing if you prefer. Part remnants of art-deco, Golden-age, end of an era, whatever one wishes to call the style; it was a landmark that signaled the last stop of aircraft design and construction. Following this, aluminum was the next big thing on the horizon.
(Personally, I really dig the fixed gear early version.) The design was supposed to eliminate interference drag of the lower wing but that proved untrue. But the lines that plan gave us! A steeply raked windscreen. A wood framework over steel tube structure creating those sensuous curves. If you dare give this plane a guy’s name it will pee oil all over your hangar floor in protest before the plane cops confiscate your vintage appreciation certificate.
Yes, yes there were many tube and fabric cubs and super cubs and what nots in the post war years, however if you had to get somewhere fast and in style, this was the way to go.
It was replaced in the late 1940's by the Bonanza which was easier to build, maintain, cheaper to fly, and sold for less money. I’ve got a fair amount of time in a straight-tail A36 model and they truly are solid cross country machines. They do look good, but that style of the stagger wing...the staccato radial sound and the wing wires whistling, I tell you, there’s something not tangably interactive in things made today when they run perfectly and just make only the necessary noise to get a job done. Character can’t be designed in on purpose - it has to come from the results. The closest I suppose to a modern approach to the feel could be a Bellanca Viking with it’s tube and fabric and wooden wing, but with such anachronistic enthusiasm, even that plane couldn’t survive.
My hangar needs are approaching room for 5 planes now. I can’t imagine the cost just to have them there much less actually operate them.