YouTube – Travel Air Mystery Ship
Wright R975 radial
20 ft. 2 in.
29 ft. 2 in.
The Travel Air Mystery Ship is best known for handily winning the September 2, 1929 Cleveland Air Races. That is where it surprised the aviation world by besting the fastest fighter aircraft of the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. The race was open to all aircraft and was flown over a distance of 50 miles.
The aircraft got its name “Mystery Ship” from the media because few people viewed it before the race. It was the creation of the Travel Air Co of Wichita, Kansas. The Travel Air Mystery Ship was flown to Cleveland in secrecy and kept under cover in a hangar before the races.
The idea for the Travel Air Mystery Ship, officially the Model R, was conceived shortly after the 1928 air races which were dominated by military aircraft. Walter Beech, head of Travel Air, felt that his company could produce an aircraft to beat the military. The Mystery Ship was test flown just days before it was to be raced. Luckily the performance of the aircraft during the test flights exceeded all expectations.
The aircraft was a monoplane design, using the latest in streamlining technology. Various engine cowls were tried and a NACA design was found to create the least drag. The all wood wings and plywood over steel tube fuselage, while not unique, when combined with the overall design of the aircraft, proved a winning combination.
After its win in Cleveland, the Travel Air Mystery Ship went on to set a number of speed records. A total of six aircraft were constructed.
RC Travel Air Mystery Ship
The RC Travel Air Mystery Ship from a kit by Fred Reese has a wingspan of 70 in. and a length of 49 in. Suggested power is by an AXI 4130/16 motor turning a 16 x 10 prop.
The RC Travel Air Mystery Ship from Lenger Modellbau has a wingspan of 37 in., a length of 25 in. and comes with a geared Speed 300 size motor. Ready to fly weight is around 20 oz.
The RC Travel Air Mystery Ship designed by Jack Swift has a wingspan of 69 in.
The AMA Plans Service has RC Travel Air Mystery Ship plans in wingspans of 15″, 22″, 24″, 26″, 28″ and 1/4 scale.
The RC Travel Air Mystery Ship from Cleveland Model & Supply comes in wingspans of 21″, 28″, 42″, 56″, and 84″.