Ryan Navion Airplane Videos and Airplane Pictures

Ryan Navion Video - Picture

Warbird Picture - Portland International Jetport, 2004.

Ryan Navion Aircraft Information

Ryan Navion


Warbird Picture - Portland International Jetport, 2004.

Picture - Portland International Jetport, 2004.

Role: Light fixed-wing aircraft
Manufacturer: North American Aviation / Ryan Aeronautical
Introduced: 1948
Status: Active
Primary users: United States Military Private owners
Number built: 2,634 (Simpson, p.261)
Variants: Camair Twin Navion

The Navion is a United States single-engine, four-seat aircraft originally designed and built by North American Aviation in the 1940s. It was later built by Ryan Aeronautical Company and the Tubular Steel Corporation (TUSCO). The Navion was envisioned as an aircraft that would perfectly match the expected postwar boom in civilian aviation, since it was designed along the general lines of, and by the same company which produced the North American P-51 Mustang, generally regarded as one of the best Allied fighter aircraft.

Airplane Picture - Navion

Picture - Navion

Design and development

The Navion was originally designed at the end of World War II by North American Aviation as the NA-143 (but produced under the NA-145 designation). It was designed for the civilian market but also attracted the interest of the United States Army Air Forces. The Army Air Force ordered 83 of the NA-154 version, designated the L-17A, to be used as a liaison aircraft, personnel and cargo carrier, and trainer for the university-based Reserve Officers Training Corps flight training program, 35 of which were later converted to L-17C standard by the Schweizer Aircraft Company by fitting them with L-17B model features such as an auxiliary fuel tank.

Ryan Aeronautical Company acquired the design in 1948, and built approximately 1,200 examples over the following three years. Ryan designated the aircraft the Navion A with a 205 hp (153 kW) Continental E-185-3 or -9 and, later, the Navion B with 260 hp (194 kW) engines of either the Lycoming GO-435-C2, or optionally the Continental IO-470 engine. The Navion As became the basis for the military L-17B.

Airplane Picture - Navion with open canopy

Picture - Navion with open canopy

A single prototype Navion Model 72 was developed to compete for the US Air Force trainer aircraft procurement that was awarded to Beechcraft and resulted in the T-34. This Model 72 was not mass-produced.

TUSCO took over production of the Navion in the mid 1950s, manufacturing D, E and F models with a variety of enhancements including tip tanks and flush rivets. Navion Rangemaster aircraft were manufactured from 1961 to 1976. Their production followed that of earlier canopy-model Navion aircraft. In addition to the 39.5-gallon (150 liter) main fuel tanks, the Rangemasters added tip tanks with 34 gallons (128 l) each. The total fuel capacity of 107.5 gallons (407 l) gave these Navions the range for which they are named. TUSCO also introduced the Navion Rangemaster G model in 1960, which incorporated all previous advancements, replaced the Navion's sliding canopy with a side door, enlarged the cabin, created five separate seats, and standardized use of tiptanks and larger, late-model Continental engines. An H Model was produced as well, very nearly the same as the G Model except for a few minor enhancements. The last few Navions were manufactured (all H Models) by Navion Aircraft Company during a short production run ending in 1976 during one of several attempts to restore the airplane to commercial viability.

Operational history

Airplane Picture - Ryan Navion at Delta Air Park 1988

Picture - Ryan Navion at Delta Air Park 1988

Pre-World War II, light civilian aircraft such as the Piper J-3 Cub and Aeronca Champion typically were made of wood or steel-tube fuselages with wooden wings. These pre-war designs were also marketed after the war, but did not sell well. While Republic offered an amphibious aircraft, the Seabee, Cessna offered the 195, and Beechcraft offered by far the most successful type Bonanza, which remains in production in 2009. All of these aircraft, including the Navion were significantly more advanced than prewar civilian aircraft and they set the stage for aircraft built from aluminum sheets riveted to aluminum formers. It was thought that wartime pilots would come home and continue flying with their families and friends under more peaceful conditions, but the postwar boom in civilian aviation did not materialize to the extent the manufacturers envisioned.

Sales of the Navion were helped by the visibility of several celebrities who flew them, including Veronica Lake, Arthur Godfrey, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cullen. Retired Utah Senator Jake Garn is a current Navion owner.

Present day

As of 2010, many Navions are still flying and there is an active Navion owners community. On 18 March 2003 Sierra Hotel Aero of South St. Paul, Minnesota purchased the type certificate, design data, molds and tooling. Their long term plan is to preserve the existing fleet world wide while simultaneously moving towards production of new Navions.

The American Navion Society, a club formed in 1960, organizes a annual convention and other social events for Navion owners. Navion Skies, provides additional activities. along with the Navion Pilots Assn.

There are no two Navions alike, in part because numerous companies produced the airplane in different parts of the country, in part due to its long service history and many approved modifications, and because without the continuous manufacturing production and support of these airplanes for most of the last 40 to 50 years, owners and third-party organizations have successfully sought numerous improvements to the aircraft on their own via FAA field approval and supplemental type certificates. The airplane has been repeatedly modified with numerous larger powerplants including the latest aircraft piston engine designs available. One Navion was fitted with a Czech built Walter turboprop allowing the aircraft to climb in excess of 5,000 ft per minute.

A pair of highly-modified Navions were flown by Princeton University as the Variable-Response Research Aircraft (VRA) and the Avionics Research Aircraft (ARA). The VRA was given a pair of vertical side-force-generating surfaces mounted midway between wing roots and tips and a digital fly-by-wire (DFBW) control system, first installed in 1978, that parallels the standard Navion's mechanical control system and the fast-acting wing flaps that produce negative as well as positive lift. With these, the VRA can simulate the motions of other aircraft types through independent, closed-loop control of all the forces and moments acting on the airplane. Having completed over 20 years of research at Princeton University's Flight Research Laboratory, the VRA and its sister ship, the Avionics Research Aircraft (which is virtually identical to the VRA but does not have side-force panels) currently are owned and operated by the University of Tennessee Space Institute .


Airplane Picture - North American L-17A, flown by the Commemorative Air Force, Camarillo Airport.

Picture - North American L-17A, flown by the Commemorative Air Force, Camarillo Airport.

North American Navion A (NA-143/ NA-145]; civil variant
North American L-17A (NA-154); military variant
Ryan Navion A; civil variant
Ryan Navion B; civil variant
Ryan L-17B; military variant of Navion A (163 built)
Ryan L-17C; military variant of L-17A (35 modified)
Ryan Navion Model 72; military variant (one prototype)
TUSCO Navion D; civil variant
TUSCO Navion E; civil variant
TUSCO Navion F; civil variant
TUSCO Navion Rangemaster; civil variant (long-range capability)
Camair Twin Navion - twin engine conversion
TEMCO-Riley D-16A Twin Navion - twin engine conversion

Military operators

Dominican Republic

Dominican Air Force (NA-145 Navion) 1949 - middle 1950

United States

US Air Force
US Army
Air National Guard

Specifications (L-17)

General characteristics

Crew: one, pilot
Capacity: three passengers
Length: 27.25 ft (8.3 m)
Wingspan: 33.38 ft (10.17 m)
Height: 8.53 ft (2.60 m)
Wing area: 184 ft (17.09 m)
Loaded weight: 2,750 lb, (1,247 kg)
Powerplant: 1x Continental E185 flat-6 piston engine, 185/205 hp (138/153 kW)


Never exceed speed: 190 mph (306 km/h)
Cruise speed: 155 mph (250 km/h)
Stall speed: 64 mph (103 km/h) gear and flaps up, 50 mph (80 km/h) gear and flaps down
Service ceiling: 15,000 ft (4,572 m)
Rate of climb: 1,250 ft/min (381 m/min)
Wing loading: (estimated) 11.4 lb/ft (55.7 kg/m)
Power/mass: 13.4 lb/hp (8.1 kg/kW)

Comparable aircraft

Beechcraft Bonanza
Messerschmitt Bf 108 / Nord 1000 Pingouin
Mooney M20
Orlican L-40 Meta Sokol
Piper Comanche


Lert, Peter. "Globe/Temco Swift & Ryan Navion." Vintage Aircraft Buyer's Guide & Price Digest. Challenge Series, Volume 3, 1989.
Ryan Aeronautical Company. Navion Operation Manual 3rd ed., February 1, 1949.
Simpson, Rod. The General Aviation Handbook. Hinckley, UK: Midland Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1-85780-222-5.
Taylor, Michael, J.H., ed. Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Educational Corporation, 1980. ISBN 0-7106-0710-5.
Used Aircraft Guide. Norwalk, CT: Aviation Consumer magazine (Belvoir Media Group LLC), 2010.
U.S. Bureau of Aeronautics. Technical Order 1L-17A-1: Flight Handbook USAF Series L-17A, L-17B, and L-17C Aircraft, October 1, 1948.

Living Warbirds: The best warbirds DVD series.

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