Famous Flyer #1 has released and its Carenado’s Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing. This is a 1930’s era biplane with an interesting negative staggerwing design. Let’s have a look!
The Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing is the first of the Famous Flyers series to be released for Microsoft Flight Simulator. It comes from well known developer Carenado. The type is now in the marketplace and available for $15.99 USD. Of course no official aircraft release happens without an official trailer.
First flown on November 4, 1932, the Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing was designed as an executive aircraft much the way that the private jet is now the preferred means of transport. The negative staggerwing was intended to enhance pilot visibility and reduce drag although later tests revealed that there were negligible drag improvements.
The aircraft arrived at the same time as the Great Depression and sales were initially slow although they picked up over time and 785 were built. The Staggerwing was also difficult to built and required a lengthy build process to complete. Some problems with control flutter lead to six mid-air breakups that were later solved with design improvements. The type saw both civilian and military use.
As for its performance, the Staggerwing is relatively impressive with a 184 knot top speed, 582 nautical mile range, and 1,500 feet a minute climb rate. It’s Pratt & Whitney “Wasp Junior” radial engine was rated at 450 hp. Aiding with its aerodynamics is the type’s retractable landing gear – a rarity on biplanes.
A small number of these aircraft are still flying while more are preserved in various museums and facilities.
What happened to the other Famous Flyer?
Some of you may know that Famous Flyer #1 was intended to be the Antonov AN-2. We learned in the January Q&A that the project was essentially complete with the author putting the finishing touches on it. There was mention of some licensing issues for the aircraft and the Q&A made it sound like Microsoft were working with Antonov to resolve them.
Although Microsoft haven’t publicly addressed it (to my knowledge), it’s very likely that those talks are on hold given the current invasion of Ukraine.