1997 32¢ Beech Staggerwing
Classic American Aircraft
Issue Date: July 19, 1997
City: Dayton, OH
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Beech Aircraft Corporation was established in 1932. The first airplane it produced was a four-passenger Model 17 biplane. Unlike former biplanes, its wings were staggered; that is, its upper wing lay slightly behind the bottom wing, and it proved to be a fine flyer.
America was in the depths of the Depression at the very time when aircraft and engine designers were producing a profusion of technological ideas. Because it was costly to translate those ideas into reality, established businesses, especially oil companies, sponsored the fledgling aviation industry. Thus it was that the Ethyl Corporation bought Beech’s Model 17, and in 1933 entered it in the Texaco Trophy races in Florida. Not surprisingly, it won.
Meanwhile, Beech engineers continued their refinements. In 1937 they put aileron-type full-length flaps on the lower wings, and ailerons on the upper wings. These increased the aircraft’s controllability and maneuverability enormously, establishing the norm for all future airplanes. Famous aviator Jacqueline Cochran, seen on Scott #3066, owned a Model D-17W.
During World War II, several versions of the Staggerwing were used as utility transports and communications aircraft by the Army and Navy.