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Laird Swallow 1920-23 Replica

E.M. Laird Airplane Company was formed in Wichita, Ks in 1920. The staff included Matty Laird, Billy Burke and Jake Moellendick. The group’s first airplane, the Wichita Tractor, took flight April 8. A young man observing the test flight, William Lassen, is believed to have remarked, “She flies like a swallow, boys.” From that point on, the plane was known as the Laird Swallow and is considered to be the first commercially produced aircraft in the U.S. Only 43 copies were built.

The aircraft at KAM is a re-creation of the Laird Swallow as no original copies of the aircraft are known to exist.



Seats:  1 pilot, 2 passengers

  • Engine: Curtiss  OX-5 eight-cylinder V-8, water cooled, 90 shp
  • Weight 1075 lbs.
  • Speed 86 MPH
  • Climb, 4000 ft. in 10 minutes with two passengers, pilot and fuel
    for 2 1/2 hrs.
  • Climb, pilot alone, 3000 ft. in 4 1/2 minutes.


In disagreement with Moellendick on business matters, Laird left Swallow and moved back to Chicago in 1923 with the stipulation that his name not be used with the aircraft product name. Moellendick, as president, renamed the company The Swallow Airplane Manufacturing Company and made Lloyd Stearman the chief engineer and Walter Beech the general manager and head of sales.


Beech and Stearman also left Swallow in 1924 after a disagreement with Moellendick over making the airframe with steel tubing. They joined with Clyde Cessna and Walter Innes, in January of 1925, to form the Travel Air Company in Wichita, Ks.