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History Takes Flight

With a collection of more than 200 historic aircraft, the EAA Aviation Museum is a year-round destination, combining aviation's past with the promise of its exciting future.

1937 Ryan SCW-145 - NC17372

Location: Pioneer Airport

T. Claude Ryan, an early aeronautical genius, first conceived of a revolutionary luxurious cabin aircraft in 1935. The airplane was to be of all-metal construction with thick duralumin skin for structural integrity. The roomy three-place interior was to have plush fine grain leather upholstery with deep mohair carpets and adjustable seats. The cabin would be soundproofed, heated, and ventilated with individual ducts.

By 1936, blueprints were pouring from the drafting room, the wood mock-up was taking shape, and work was rapidly begun on the extensive tooling and dies. The latter part of that year saw the beginning of the prototype, designated SC for “Sport Cabin” and given serial number 201.

In early 1937, the prototype received a 150 hp Menasco inline engine and was designated SCM under ATC 651. Following an extensive test program, the decision was made to remove the Menasco and install a Warner Super-Scarab Radial of 145 hp. The prototype was then re-designated SCW under ATC658 in October of 1937.

The airplane exceeded all design performance criteria and was promptly put on a circuit of the US to be shown and demonstrated at all major aviation gatherings and air meets. Ryan immediately began ordering parts for an initial production run of 25 SCW aircraft, but just as production was begun, large, urgent military orders for their popular ST trainer were received. Production of the SCW was terminated after a run of only twelve aircraft.

In 1938, the prototype SCW was sold in Mexico where it received the Mexican registration of XA-CUT. The airplane made many trips back and forth across Mexico and down into Central and South America. The first woman to become certified and licensed as an aviatress by the Mexican Department of Aeronautics was taught to fly in the prototype SCW.

In 1943, with the world at war and gasoline severely rationed, priorities took precedent and sport flying became one of the many victims of the time. It was at this time that the prototype SCW dropped out of sight and disappeared into oblivion.

In 1973, Morton Lester and Bill Hodges pieced together rumors they had heard about the existence of the SCW down in Mexico. Enlisting the help of Danny Martinez, the rumors led the group to locate the airplane. The SCW had been sitting in storage since 1943 and Danny was able to negotiate an option to purchase the aircraft. Within four hours of notifying Morton, the prototype was on its way back to the Lester home in Virginia.

It took two and a half years to get the prototype flying again, but on November 16, 1975, the SCW was airborne for the first time in nearly 32 years. Morton proudly flew the airplane, sharing his prized possession with inquiring Ryan enthusiasts from across the country. In 1978, Morton Lester donated the prototype Ryan SCW to the EAA AirVenture Museum.

Wing Span

37 ft. 6 in.


25 ft. 5 in.


7 ft.

Wing Area

202 sq. ft.

Empty Weight

1350 lbs.

Gross Weight

2150 lbs.

Maximum Speed

152 mph

Cruise Speed

140 mph

Rate of Climb

900 ft. per min.

Service Ceiling

19,400 ft.

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