See the Ryan M-1 at the Museum of Flight Web Site
In 1932, a small airplane crashed in a valley 30 miles south of Paso Robles in Southern California.  The pilot, who walked away uninjured, told the rancher who found him that he never wanted to see another airplane in his life and that he could do with it what he liked.  Fifty-eight years later - all but 10 years on that same ranch where it crashed in 1932 - the Ryan M-1, the only plane of its type in the world and the model for Charles Lindbergh's Ryan NYP (New York-Paris) 1927 "Spirit of St. Louis", is on display in the Museum of Flight Great Gallery.   

M1 frame after being restored -1982

The story of the Ryan M-1 and its subsequent salvage and restoration by Ty Sundstrom nearly a half-century later is an amazing bit of aviation history. An aircraft restorer by trade, Sundstrom was looking for an antique to work on in 1980, located the Ryan, and had it trucked to his home in Visalia, CA for repair.  Initially not realizing what a prize he had found, with help from the Ryan Aeronautical Library in San Diego, Sundstrom began piecing together the aircraft's colorful past.
M-1 was unique for a commercial machine, stressed for 8-Gs (the same as pursuit ships of the time) and fully aerobatic by 1926 standards.  At least 12 M-1s were built and sported a variety of engine installations.  In 1927, the M-1 was followed by factory serial #16, better known as the NYP.
After its rollout, the Ryan M-1 c/n 1 was sold to Pacific Air Transport, at which time the Hispano-Suiza 150A 150hp V-8 water-cooled engine was replaced with at Wright J-4B.  The plane went on to service on PAT's Los Angeles-Seattle airmail route before crashing on Christmas Day 1926.  The next month, Pacific Air Transport sold the damaged plane to a private owner in Culver City, CA, who had it rebuilt by Ryan in San Diego and replaced the Wright with a 180hp Hisso engine.  Over the next few years, the plane went from one private owner to the next until it was purchased by a Mr. Melchior of Paso Robles in 1932, who soon thereafter crashed it on the ranch where it would remain for the next 48 years.
When Sundstrom located the Ryan in 1980 it was in surprisingly good shape.  The fuselage had been placed off the ground on a cement block so it had not rusted too badly, and the wing had been buried - and preserved - in dried up mud and manure.  In addition, the dry climate of the area had helped keep the steel parts from rusting away.  Although many of the parts were missing or beyond repair, the plane had potential.
So Sundstrom set to work with the goal of restoring the 1926 aircraft to its original airworthy condition.  Over the next four years, he located an authentic Hisso engine, duplicated a new, hand-carved wood propeller, rebuilt the ailerons and engine mount from original plans and photos, and stretched the wings with Grade A cotton fabric coated with five layers of silver butyrate dope, just as it was built.  In May 1984, Sundstrom took this "new" Ryan M-1 to the skies for a five-minute flight, the first of several he would make before selling the aircraft to the Museum of Flight last year.
Now on permanent display in the Great Gallery, the Ryan M-1 allows the Museum to enhance its presentation of those early, golden days of aviation.  Sixty-four years since its first flight, the Ryan M-1 is an airplane with many stories to tell.

Article from the January/February 1991 issue of "Museum of Flight News"
Museum of Flight, Boeing Field, WA

 

 


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Visalia, California

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