Photo by Phil Norton
A Glasair on display with Ted Stezer, Glasair R&D Manager.
July 30, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin
This year’s AirVenture marks a significant
anniversary for a mainstay of the homebuilding movement: the 30th
anniversary of the debut of the Glasair line of kit planes.
The first Glasair SH-2, a fixed-gear
taildragger, appeared at Oshkosh in 1979. This year also is the 15th
anniversary of the firm’s GlaStar line.
Founders and principals Tom Hamilton and Ted
Setzer met as students at the University of Washington and joined to form
a company they called Stoddard-Hamilton.
Tom’s first design, the SH-1, was a tandem
two-place that flew only a couple of times before being redesigned as the
firm’s first very successful product, the side-by-side SH-2 Glasair. The
prototype flew at 208 mph using the same Lycoming O-235 engine as the SH-1—
an impressive speed for 1979 that still commands attention today.
Later designs from the company used the 150-
or 160-hp O-320 Lycoming engines.
Prior to the Glasair, composite homebuilt
structures were based on hot-wire cut, solid foam cores and hand layups of
fiberglass. Glasairs, instead, were the first powered composite airplanes
to use components manufactured in female molds.
Follow-on models after the SH-2 included both
fixed and retractable tri-gear versions. In 1986 the company introduced an
improved Glasair II kit and the enlarged Glasair III— still a two-place
but incorporating a six-cylinder Lycoming IO-540.
At the time the G-III represented the pinnacle
of homebuilt performance and sophistication; many will remember the
spectacular air show routines performed at Oshkosh by Bud Granley and Bob
1994 brought a change in direction with the
announcement of the GlaStar—a high-wing two-place available in either
conventional- or tricycle-gear versions.
While the fuselage is composite, the
(foldable) wings, tail, and internal load-bearing structure are metal.
Much simpler to build than the Glasair and capable of being operated as a
floatplane, the GlaStar has found wide acceptance as a sport and utility
The Glasair series is still supported as well,
with a few new kits sold each year. Glasair Aviation is in the Main
Aircraft Display area in Booths 253 and 254.