Sam’s previous print starring an Aeronca Champ sold out so it was time for another. This one has all the elements of a classic Sam Lyons aviation piece. There’s the vintage airplane in prime condition, complete in every detail. You have an old-fashioned hangar that shows signs of use and character. In Sam’s imagination, this scene is one of many friendly stops during a coast-to-coast journey for a pilot with plenty of time to do what he (or she) loves most . . . fly.
History of the the Aeronca Champ
The Champ was built by Aeronca Aircraft Corporation, and first flown in 1944. It entered production in 1945. It was an economical postwar rival to the Piper Cub (which it improved upon). The Champ was popular with training schools. The schools were training veterans returning from World War II, by the thousands, with government funding through the G.I. Bill.
The original model 7AC Champion initially sold by the thousands, peaking in 1946, as Aeronca developed the highest-volume production line in general aviation. Between 1946 and 1947, Aeronca was producing an average 30 light aircraft per day. The postwar boom-and-bust of the late 1940s and early 1950s brought an abrupt end to the massive sales. And then, like the rest of the U.S. lightplane industry, Aeronca production dropped to a small fraction of the 1946–1947 sales. There were engine upgrades in 1947, 1948 and 1949.
Some of the Champ variants were acquired by the U.S. Army Air Forces and its successor, the U.S. Air Force. The Champ was particularly used by the U.S. Army Ground Forces and the National Guard, as replacements for the Piper L-4 variant of the Piper Cub. It was used as an observation and liaison aircraft. By the time production ended in 1951, the company had sold more than 8,000 Champions.
Champ sold to Champion Aircraft, Bellanca Aircraft
Aeronca ceased all production of light aircraft in 1951. The Champ design was sold in 1954 to Champion Aircraft. Champion Aircraft continued production of some of the more advanced variants of the Champ, from the 1950s into the early 1960s. The Champ was gradually modified into the aerobatic Champion Citabria.
Champion Aircraft was acquired in 1970 by Bellanca Aircraft which continued production of the Citabria and also Decathlon designs.
In 1971, Bellanca introduced the 7ACA version of the Champ. The 7ACA was considered the least expensive, and lowest performing, commercially produced light plane on the market at the time. Bellanca ceased all production in the early 1980s.
Acquisition by American Champion Aircraft
American Champion Aircraft Corporation acquired the Champ and related designs in 1989. In 2001, they were rumored to be considering a reintroduction of the Champ design. However, this combination was not put into production. The FAA created the light-sport aircraft (LSA) category of aircraft in the United States. At that time, American Champion began producing a revised version of the 7EC in late 2007.
The new production aircraft qualified to be flown by sport pilots in the United States. Although similar to the original models, the new aircraft used the windows, interior, door, and windscreen of the modern Citabria. Fuel capacity was reduced to conserve weight. However, the aircraft was inadequate to carry two adults and full fuel simultaneously. The revived 7EC was dropped from production by mid 2019.
About the Cross Country Champ Print
The 16” x 22” prints are available in a Limited Edition size of 400 Signed and Numbered and 40 Artist Proofs.
NOTE: THE ORIGINAL OF “CROSS COUNTRY CHAMP” IS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE. CALL 863 644 5010 FOR MORE INFO.