The 1949 Rawdon T-1 is a single-engine trainer that was also used for agricultural purposes. It is currently housed at a volunteer’s hangar because we do not have hangar space at the museum. The Rawdon T-1 is a special addition to our collection because the Rawdon Company was based in Wichita, occupying buildings on Rawdon Field, now known as Beech North. The airplane is flyable and is one of only a few still known to exist.
Rawdon Brothers Flying Service was organized in 1940 as a partnership to operate a flight school and a commercial airport and to perform related flying services. Rawdon Brothers Aircraft Inc., was incorporated on July 1, 1947. The corporation continued its flying school and airport activities while establishing a small factory to produce aircraft parts and assemblies.
The company also designed and produced a prototype airplane for the training market. The design was a two-place tail wheel airplane with a tandem cockpit, metal airframe, fabric wings and a 125 HP engine. The aircraft secured CAA approval in September 1947, but was not immediately placed into production. The GI flight training program for which the airplane was designed had peaked the year earlier and was rapidly being terminated.
During 1948, after the GI training program was terminated, most manufacturers stopped production of their two-place trainer airplanes, leaving a large inventory of unsold airplanes. In addition, the market was flooded with a significant number of airplanes that had been used by flight schools for the GI program. The surplus of airplanes created severe financial hardships for most manufacturers.
Rawdon began manufacturing aircraft parts in 1948, and in 1949 began producing parts needed to install crop spraying equipment on war surplus Stearman airplanes. When the Korean Conflict began, the government was again interested in purchasing aircraft and Rawdon turned to producing aircraft sub-assemblies. Among its client companies was Cessna. Rawdon produced wing panel assemblies, tail surface assemblies, pilot seats, cabin doors, windshields and other furnishings for the L-19 Bird Dog. The company produced a number of conversions for the PT-17, BT-13, BT-15, and even the Beech Model 35 Bonanza that were authorized under the airframe type certificate. Rawdon also worked as a sub-contractor for Continental Can, which was a primary contractor for the Air Force.
During this time Rawdon accumulated valuable experience in production techniques. The design for the company’s airplane was continually revised, awaiting the time when conditions were appropriate to introduce it to the market. A few airplanes were produced and sold to friends of the company. Crop spraying equipment was designed and added. A metal wing was designed to replace the fabric-covered wing. Engines of 135, 150 and 180 horsepower were certified.
We continue to research the remaining years of the company. Production continued for a number of years with a few hundred airplanes produced. The airplane was sold as a general trainer, aerobatic trainer and crop duster. Some airplanes were sold to other countries for use as trainers for military pilots. _Research also continues on the history of this particular airplane. It is rare. Only 15 are still shown as registered in the United States, and it’s not known how many are flyable.