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Rare Treat: Multiple Spartan Executive 7Ws to attend EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016
July 7, 2016 - The Spartan Executive 7W is a beautiful luxury aircraft built by Spartan Aircraft Company in the 1930s. It’s rare to see one and seeing two or three together is nearly unheard of. Spartan Executive 7W buffs dream of having this exact experience. Because 2016 is the aircraft’s 80th anniversary, those dreams are made possible with seven confirmed 7Ws on display at AirVenture 2016.
From 1936 through 1940, 34 7Ws were produced. Today, 20 survive and many are rarely flown. It is uncommon to see so many in one place, as the production was spread out over five years and owners are scattered across the U.S. and U.K. This gathering may be the first time since original production that this number of 7Ws have been in one place at the same time. Six are flying in specifically for AirVenture, joining the one on permanent display at the EAA AirVenture Museum.
Spartan Executive 7W owner Jim Savage said, "The Spartan owners are thrilled to be able to have this 80th Anniversary Gathering at AirVenture 2016. We look forward to sharing the histories of each aircraft with vintage enthusiasts from around the world."
The majority of civilian aircraft at the time were built using fabric coverings and wooden spars and ribs. The 7W featured innovative technology with an all-metal fuselage and a retractable undercarriage, powered by a 450-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr. engine. Spartan Aircraft Company founder William Skelly wanted to develop an aircraft that was fast without skimping on comfort and luxury.
The 7W has a cruising speed of 200 mph and a range of about 1,000 miles, which was impressive for that era. The aircraft’s excellent performance allowed the 7W to take part in the 1939 Bendix Trophy Race. Arlene Davis raced from Los Angeles, California, to Cleveland, Ohio, taking fifth place with an average speed of 196.8 mph.Spartan Aircraft Company was based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was the oil capital of the world at that time. Most of the original purchasers of the 7W were oil company executives. Other notable owners included Paul Mantz, Howard Hughes, and King Ghazi of Iraq.