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Chris D. Stoltzfus, Coatesville, PA
Travel Air Airplanes


Travel Airs were a favorite of my father, the late Chris D. Stoltzfus, of Coatesville, PA,
and he owned and/or flew several of them in the early years.

Click here for my main Travel Air aircraft page
Last revised 9/10/14
These are family photos, with photographer unknown except I know that some of them were taken by my mother, the late Irma H. Stoltzfus.

1929 Travel Air 4-S, 4000, N469N, sn 1383

In the Preferred Airparts 2015 calendar there are some shots of my father, the late Chris D. Stoltzfus (1913 - 1981) of Coatesville, PA, with his Travel Air 4000 duster N469N.

Father bought N469N in July 1944, at 519 hours total time, and converted it into a duster. He dusted with it for 165 hours that year; 690 hours in 1945; and 750 in 1946. In 1947 he broke a rod on the Wright J-5A while dusting; made a forced landing in a nearby field; and converted it to a Continental W670 right there. It took a while because he had to get the motor mount from California.
travel air 4000 n469n
Note the airfoil at the bottom of the hopper where the dust comes down. The 7/44 '337 on the conversion to a duster (WORD, 2-pages) says it was made from a Piper Cub aileron! Obviously it was to create low pressure there and help get the dust out.
You can see (above) that Father liked to do a good job for the farmer - getting the dust right down into the foliage! This photo shows the Wright J-5A, so it was between 1944 and '47. By 1937 the original 30x5 high pressure tires had been replaced with 9:50x12 airwheels. The left and center photos below show it with the Continental W-670, and in the right one it still had the Wright J-5A. That photo was used on the front cover of the June 1982 AG PILOT magazine but was identified as one of Cantrell Aero Service's aircraft with pilot unknown. Fact is, Father was flying it and Cantrell bought it years later.
travel air airplane picture travel air duster airplane travel air airplane duster  
The "R" in NR469N is because it was licensed in Restricted Category as a duster and that designation was used back then. This Travel Air was Father's first duster and his favorite. He spoke of it with affection. The seat sits on wooden cross members, and he broke them once while pulling up over wires at the end of a field.
Here's a newspaper article from the Oct. 5, 1945 "The Cumberland News" about Father dusting apples in Virginia, including those of Senator Harry F Byrd, along with a photostatic copy of a 1946 check of Byrd's, with his signature. Father marketed his services and here's a 1947 flyer. Here's the photo alone, showing the Travel Air in the middle toward the back, along with his growing fleet. The two Cub dusters behind the J-3 sprayer in the front, were built up from Piper TG-8 gliders.
The Travel Air was followed in his ag fleet by numerous Cubs and Stearmans, and several Twin Beechs, Grumman TBM Avengers, Douglas C-47's and Chase YC-122's.
By 1952 his Stearman fleet was growing and the Travel Air apparently took a back seat. He had dusted with it a total of 1755 hours and sold it to Dennis Cantrell, of Conway, AR that year. Cantrell had a fleet of Travel Airs and seeded with N469N for 46 hours before he quit the ag business.
dennis cantrell, conway, ar
Cantrell restored N469N in 1976 and returned it to Standard Category with a Wright J-5A, and flew it 30-hours after that. Here's a letter he sent to Father in Jan. 1978 with this photo, and a shot of the "replica" he had built for his grandson, William Otto. The last annual inspection was in 1995.
My twin, Karl Stoltzfus, of Bridgewater, VA bought it from William Otto in 2013 at 2771 hours total time, for display as a family piece. The purchase included the W670 that Father had installed in 1947, and which has 560-hours since new.
Some aircraft history: N469N was built on Dec. 6, 1929 as a Travel Air Model 4-S, and it was the only 4-S built. The first owner was the “A.L. Powell Power Company, Inc.” of Oak Park, IL. Powell purchased it without an engine and installed “Powell Lever Motor Model 23, No. 1.” The registration was changed to X469N, with “X” standing for “Experimental” because it was the test aircraft for the Powell engine. By 4/6/32 a 220-hp Wright J5 engine had been installed and in 6/21/32 Powell sold the airplane as Travel Air 4000, NC469N. A Curtiss Wright Airplane Company affidavit at that time says it was built as a Model 4-S and that it conformed to the approved design data for the Model 4000.
In June 1932 it was sold to Vi-Air-Ways, Inc of Cleveland, OH; In Dec. 1932 to The Erie Isle Airways Company, Inc., Put in Bay, OH; Dec. 1932 to Ruben N. Anderson, Youngstown, OH; Jan. 1935 to W. F. Coe, Morgantown, WV; March 1936 to John Thurlow (J.T.) Jackson and Floyd James (F.J.) Brown, Hendersonville, (Fletcher) NC; April 1941 to Brown alone; Nov. 1941 to Howard F. Dutton, Montpelier, VT; Dec. 1941 to Aero Flying Service, Inc., Lincoln Park, NJ for $1250; Oct. 1942 to Harold D. Swank, dba Scranton Airways, Clarks Summit, PA; May 1943 to Victory Parachute Co. Inc., Scranton, PA (owned by Scranton Lace Co.) for $1800; Jan. 1944 to Sherwood E. Cole, Tatamy, PA for $1000; July 1944 to Chris D. Stoltzfus of Sadsburyville, PA (where he had a body shop and worked on airplanes); Jan. 1952 to Dennis Cantrell, Cantrell's Aero Service, Conway, AR; early 2013 to my twin, Karl D. Stoltzfus (Dynamic Aviation Group), Bridgewater, VA.
Travel Air 2000 N6249, sn 700
I have several photos of this Travel Air 2000, which belonged to Father's second cousins Emory and Leroy Stoltzfus, and their partner Norman Hertzler. Here is a two page document showing their purchase of it on 8/2/38, and it still appears in the FAA Register (scroll down) in Emery's name with a cancellation date of 10/1/39.
These two photos were taken at Beiler Motors, in Morgantown, PA, in 1938-39. David S. Beiler had a Chevrolet dealership there, and obviously a gas station. Note the "Sanitary Rest Rooms" sign!
Chris D. Stoltzfus Travel Air airplane
Beiler Motors, Morgantown, PA
I think that is Father with his back to us in the right photo, along with Emery and Leroy facing us. My Uncle John (John P. "JP" Stoltzfus) says that Emery had a Pietenpole Air Camper with a Model T engine, and you can see it and the Travel Air in this photo. That looks like a whole bunch of Mennonite boys who were showing more interest in airplanes than the bishop would have liked!
Incidentally, David and Mary Beiler were friends of my parents, and soon after Karl and I were born (9/15/40) they came to see the Stoltzfus twins. On the way home Mary said to David, "We should have a girl for one of those boys." Elaine was born about eight months later, and 17 years after that she said "Why sure!" when I asked her to marry me! (Wisely, her mother didn't tell her that story until after we were married.) I believe that is her mother just off the left wing on the left photo and it is her Grandma Beiler's house just behind the Travel Air in the right photo.
  Travel Air airplane, Coatesville, PA
The Travel Air at Coatesville Airport, Coatesville, PA, with an unidentified woman. That is Father's hangar/barn behind it and the old "Airport Diner" under the prop.
  Travel Air, Norm Hortman
This shows a different prop and different wheels. It's a Travel Air but it doesn't look like the same airplane as above. That is Mother in the middle, and the negative says, "Norm Hortman."
When is a Load a "Load?"

Okay, it's now 1942 and here's a load that Father was taking somewhere behind his Mercury convertible. (He most likely bought the Mercury wrecked and repaired it in his body shop.) There appears to be two Travel Airs on there, including the one shown above, plus other stuff. It is parked along Rt. 30 in Sadsburyville, PA.

  Travel Air airplane parts Travel Air Curtiss Challenger
That looks like a Travel Air on the front, less engine. I have a file showing that Father bought a Challenger powered Travel Air (info below). Does anyone recognize the firewall forward components there as being for a Challenger - - or otherwise?
  wrecked Travel Air airplane Travel Air airplane parts
The photo on the left was obviously taken from inside a window. I posted it only because it most clearly shows the trim on the rear Travel Air, which appears to be NC6249, whose registration was cancelled on 10/1/39.
  Is that an uncovered Waco fuselage and are those Waco wings on there? Or ?????
Travel Air, Sadsburyville, PA
Stoltzfus Travel Air
I don't remember hearing Father talk about this load. It looks like there's a lot of weight on the back and I'm wondering how laterally stable it was on the road. How much would this load bring at auction today?
Father had Stoltzfus Auto Body Works in Sadsburyville and also repaired airplanes. Below are some photos of his shop; Father and his Mercury convertible; another showing his pre-Reese Mercury tow hitch; and his Ford tow truck.
Stoltzfus body shop
Piper Cub N24597
Mercury convertible
Stoltzfus body shop
Ford tow truck

1928 Travel Air 2000 N9004, sn 805
  Actually, Father's "thing" for Travel Airs wasn't only about his N469N. He just loved them in general.
This beautifully restored 1928 Travel Air 2000, N9004, sn 805, belonged to Father's friend Ernest Webb, of Charlotte, NC. It would have been built before Curtiss Wright bought the Travel Air company in 1929.
It obviously has the Curtiss OX (Oh X) water cooled V8, and most likely the OXX-6, (Oh double X six) dual ignition, 102-hp engine versus the single ignition, 90-hp OX-5 version.
Here's some shots I took at "Rockford 1962," which is where I became EAA member #13348. (Father was EAA #634.) These show N9004; Father and Ernest; Father alone; and Father with Elaine and me. Memories!
Travel Air 2000 aircraft photo
Travel Air 2000 N9004
Travel Air 2000 airplane photo
Travel Air 2000 airplane picture
Elaine and I flew the family Cessna 180 to Rockford, and then went up to Red Lake, Ontario where Karl was flying, and together we flew out to the Seattle World's Fair. N9004 is still on the FAA register.
  Travel Air 2000 Stoltzfus
Travel Air 2000 NC8846, sn 948, later N99X, with Curtiss OX-5, an old photo in my collection. Our family bought N8846 from Peter Brega on 10/9/53, and then (unfortunately) registered it as N99X to coordinate with our Stearman fleet, N91X - N98X.
We had Curtiss OXX-6, Wright J-4, Hisso E and Continental W-670 engines for it. Father bought the J-4 from Bob Mills at Philadelphia Seaplane Base. The idea was to use the '670 for general flying and put the other engines on for going to a fly-in or whatever.
This was to be the airplane that my twin Karl and I soloed in on our 16th birthday, 9/15/56. One winter we laid the wings out and were going to start on the rebuild, but the need for working on Stearman sprayers soon cropped up (pun not intended) and the wings were put away again. Karl and I soloed in our J-3 N51533 in 1957 and went off to college in 1967. In April 1970 Father sold the Travel Air to John Talmage of Riverhead, L.I., NY. I see that it is currently registered (but expired) to a Lufker on Long Island but I don't know if it is physically in his possession.
Some sites report sn 948 for HS-PSP in Thailand and others report that one as being sn 435. Many aircraft have shown up on foreign registers without documents in the FAA file to show the transfer, or to deregister it here. Maybe someone out there can help!
Travel Air C-4000 N639H, sn 1200, Challenger R-600
Travel Air C-4000 NC639H sn 1200 was purchased by my father in mid-1943. It was Curtiss Challenger R-600 powered and I believe it was formerly owned by Millard F. French, of Beckley, WV. It is on the current FAA register and shows a Wright R760-8. There is nothing to indicate when Father sold it.
Travel Air C-4000 picture
Per my notes on "When is a Load a 'Load'?", I'm wondering if its not the Travel Air at the front of that trailer.
  Travel Air 12Q airplane
Travel Air 12-Q N430W, 1931 sn 12Q-2001, in 1942 with Father at the controls. It belonged to one of his pilots, Jerry Lantz. The 12Q had a 90hp Wright-Gypsy engine and I believe this is the first of 27 built.
Travel Air 12Q aircraft photo
On the right you see it waiting out winter in early 1947 in front of Father's barn/hangar, which burned down later that year. I suspect the fuselage had been recovered between 1942 and '47. The house there is where I grew up.
Travel Air 12W airplane
Travel Air 12W N408W, 1931 sn 12W-2018. Father bought this 12W in March 1942 for $575 plus $25 for the speed ring, and flew it home on a ferry permit. I don't have any photos and don't know where he sold it, but I have some interesting paperwork from that period.
Here's the 3/30/42 Bill of Sale in Mother's left-handed hand writing, which any of our family would quickly recognize. And then here's a standard letter that Father got from the CAA in Sept. 1942. An earlier "Commercial Aircraft License" (Airworthiness Certificate) shows it had a Warner Scarab engine of 125-HP, and note the details on the back. (Scroll down)
Father received this Western Union telegram from Coffeyville Airways, in Coffeyville, KS, and here's his letter of response. The original was actually folded, put in an envelope with a stamp on it and put in the mail. Yes kids - - life was slower then but there really was communication before email or twitter or - - -! Note the phone number at the top, "Parkesburg 184," and the telegram apparently came into the Coatesville, PA, Western Union office.
There is nothing in the file regarding sale of the 12W. Father's "Body Works" in Sadsburyville burned out not long after this and I'm wondering if it wasn't in that. (The sun shown through the distorted glass of that day, which magnified it and set a pile of papers inside the window on fire and burned the place down.)
Please see the following pages for more Travel Air photos and info
    Travel Air main page
    Travel Air biplanes, including several dusters
    Low wing Travel Airs (in process)
    High wing Travel Airs (in process)
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