|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