Beechcraft D-17S Staggerwing

An Art Deco classic

At the height of the Great Depression, aircraft executive Walter H. Beech developed a large, powerful biplane built specifically for the business executive. The Beech Model 17, popularly known as the “Staggerwing,” first flew on November 4, 1932. The Staggerwing is recognized as one of the most distinctive and beautiful airplanes ever built.

The Model 17's unusual wing configuration—the upper wing inversely staggered behind the lower—and unique shape resulted in a design that maximized the pilot's visibility while minimizing the aircraft's tendency to stall. The use of retractable landing gear combined with streamlining and reducing the weight of materials produced an aircraft that could achieve a top speed of 200 miles per hour. 

Each Staggerwing was custom-built by hand. A luxurious cabin trimmed in leather carried up to five passengers in comfort and quickly won over the flying public. Powerful radial engines gave the Model 17 impressive performance, as it was faster than most military aircraft before World War II.

Several countries recognized the military value of the Staggerwing as a personnel transport and air ambulance during World War II. The Staggerwing served in the Army Air Corps as the UC-43 and with the Navy as the GB-1.
In all, Beech manufactured 785 Model 17 Staggerwings during 16 years of production. Fewer than 50 are still flying today.   This aircraft rolled off the assembly line in 1947 and is currently owned by Carolyn Pardue.  It is on loan to the Lone Star Flight Museum.


Quick Facts

United States
Civilian Sport Aircraft
One Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-1 Wasp Junior
Maximum Speed: 
212 mph
25,000 ft.
500 miles
26 ft. 2 in
32 ft. 0 in.
Number built: 

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