Beachey Little Looper (reproduction)

The Beachey-Eaton Biplane, known as the “Little Looper,” was built in Chicago in 1914. The airplane appeared to be a smaller version of the Curtiss Model D Headless biplane, but it differed in many significant ways. It was designed and built to be an aerobatic biplane and was stronger, faster, and more agile than its larger Curtiss Model D Headless cousin. The 80 horsepower, Le Rhône rotary engine provided sufficient power for the airplane to exceed 80 mph in level flight, and to perform as many as 80 continuous inside loops.

Lincoln J. Beachey was a pioneer American aviator and early star airshow performer who learned to pilot fixed-wing aircraft at the Curtiss Flying School in Hammondsport, New York. He became an official member of Glenn Curtiss’ flying team in 1910, and by the end of 1911, his stunt piloting was a major moneymaker. Beachey was known as “The Man Who Owns the Sky,” and sometimes the “Master Birdman.” Acknowledged even by his adversaries as “The World’s Greatest Aviator,” he achieved the pinnacle of American adoration. Orville Wright said: “An aeroplane in the hands of Lincoln Beachey is poetry. His mastery is a thing of beauty to watch. He is the most wonderful flyer of all.”

The Museum’s aircraft was built in 1948, by Albert Dudek in Cleveland, Ohio. Dudek was a WWI pilot who barnstormed for many years, during which time he collected and preserved planes and spare parts, including the 80 horsepower Le Rhône engine which was used in the plane’s construction. This Beachey replica was then acquired by E.D. Weeks and Howard Gregory in 1958. Weeks and Gregory recovered and refinished the aircraft, and flew it for several years before donating it to the Museum in 1979.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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