Kozak’s immaculate 1940 Ryan STM-S2 harkens back to those
golden days of aviation when open cockpits and silk scarves
dominated the skies. Photo by Dave Higdon
Kozak remembers seeing pictures of the Ryan ST as a child and, like
many, dreamed of having one some day.
can’t remember how old I was when I first saw a picture, but you can’t
help but love the lines," Kozak reminisced.
1998 he was finally in a position to acquire one, Kozak, with agreement
from his wife, went on a hunt to find an example of the sleek-looking
The airplane Kozak
finally found is actually a 1940 STM-S2 version (the M designation
indicated military) of the two-place, open-cockpit Ryan. Originally
built as one of a group of 13 delivered to the Dutch navy, it started
out as a water bird on a set of Edo floats. Because of its water
heritage the airplane had extra corrosion protection and a beefier
structure, attributes that Kozak is sure have added to the airframe’s
Indonesia was the first stop for the Ryan
when it was new. Shortly after its arrival, the Japanese overtook the
area and the airplane was shipped in pieces to Australia. There it
served with the armed forces and ultimately ended up in civilian hands.
It made it to the United States in 1969, again in pieces, where it was
restored to its original glory, albeit with wheels instead of floats.
In all of its travels and all the time
that he has flown it, Kozak can document only about 1,000 total hours on
“It has remarkably few hours on it,”
Kozak said. “The logs are fairly complete, and I suspect there may be
some time missing somewhere, but it really is a low-time airframe.”
The STM variant of the Ryan design is now
fairly rare. A military version of the pre-war Ryan ST sport airplane,
the STM was not considered durable enough for military duty by the U.S.
forces. In fact, according to Kozak, the Dutch armed forces were one of
the biggest, if not the biggest, export customers for the little Ryan.
Kozak knows of one STM in a European
flying museum, one or two in the United States, and a few in Australia.
He speculated that the reason so many ended up in Australia was due to
so many being shipped there by the Dutch in order to keep the airplane
out of the hands of the Japanese.
A version of the airplane was used by the
U.S. military as the Ryan PT-22. The PT-22 sported a Kinner radial
engine on the nose, a powerplant considered by the U.S. military to be
more durable than the Menasco used on the STM.
A longer, wider fuselage and a stouter,
wider landing gear also identify the PT-22 version. According to Kozak,
both changes help with what he describes as the somewhat
“squirrelly” landing characteristics of the STM.
The airplane has been very reliable for
Kozak, except for one issue. “I had to replace the engine on it as the
original, shall we say, nearly ceased on me,” Kozak said. “This
engine is a D47. [An engine builder] out in California that does a lot
of the Menascos was building one up. This engine has enclosed rockers
instead of exposed rockers, so instead of two quarts of oil an hour
spewing all over the airplane, very little comes out now.
“To [switch to the different engine] I
had to change the entire induction system. The normal way that you would
put the D47 engine in would be to have an air intake on the nose
opposite the cooling air intake. Since I didn’t want to mess up this
airplane, I didn’t want to bore a new hole in the nosebowl.”
Ultimately a new induction system was
built using a no-longer-necessary oil cooler intake. The extensive
project did keep the airplane out of the air for two years and resulted
in a 13-page FAA Form 337 documenting all of the work.
Kozak bases the airplane at a residential
airpark in Brookridge, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He tries to fly it
as often as he can, but he also is cognizant of the historic value of
“It’s a nice flying airplane,”
Kozak said, but added, “I am fairly cautious on the weather days that
I fly because I don’t want to hurt it.”
“It is a typical old airplane, though
it sinks faster than you might think,” he added. “For a sleek
airplane it comes down like an elevator, especially when you put the
flaps down. It also has a narrow fuselage so you can sort of see around
the nose, but like any of these airplanes, you really can’t see
Kozak, who spends his working time in the
cockpits of 757s and 767s, also owns a Grumman Tiger. “That’s my
year-round airplane,” he said.
Kozak’s STM will stay in the area after
EAA AirVenture concludes.
“Wisconsin is such a fun place to
fly,” he said. “I plan my vacation so I have some time after
AirVenture to spend tooling around Wisconsin. It is so pretty from the
air and especially pretty from an open-cockpit airplane. Just need to
keep the weather nice for another week.”