Luscombe 8A "Silvaire"

Luscombe 8A "Silvaire"After having designed and built the high-wing Monocoupe, Don Luscombe started his own aircraft production company in the thirties of the 20th century. Being convinced that the future for light aviation lay in all-aluminium construction, he developed his Model 8, later to become known as the "Silvaire". The Model 8 was the first commercially successful all-metal light airplane. By the time the war practically shut Luscombe down, the airplanes were selling extremely well, a fact not lost on Cessna when they began post-war production of the 120/140.
The first production models had fabric covered wings but a stressed skin aluminium version was available soon after and later became standard although the rag wing remained as an option until 1947. Engines varied from the initial 50 hp to the 90 hp Continental in the later types 8F, 8G and T8F. Prewar publicity pictures showed the Silvaire with twenty-one people sitting on the wings, intended as a proof of the strength of the all-metal construction technique. As most aircraft at the time were made of wood and linen, new constructions were eyed with suspicion. Don Luscombe proved that his novelty had prospects; to this day the majority of aircraft are of all-metal construction.

After World War II the light airplane market was saturated with bargain-priced surplus army Piper Cubs. That proved a problem to the Luscombe Aircraft Corporation seeing the number of new orders decreasing. They saw an opportunity in a military observation version of the "Silvaire" and produced a tandem-seat model, designated the T8F, with a large plexiglass bubble behind the wing. However the military were not really interested in Luscombe's offering so the T8F was only produced in small numbers for civilian use. The company struggled on for a few years until in 1961 production finally came to a halt.
During the final years of its existence, Luscombe produced the four-seater Model 11 Sedan which achieved little commercial success. A limited number survived.

Production: 1938 - 1942 and 1945 - 1960, total more than 6.000
Engine: Continental 4 cylinder boxer A-65/C-75/C-90
Cruise speed: 185 km/hr
Maximum speed: 210 km/hr
Landing speed: 64 km/hr
Weight: empty 315 kg, max. 567 kg
Dimensions: wingspan 10,67 m, length 6,10 m, height 1,78 m

The Early Birds Luscombe
The Early Birds Luscombe is a Mode 8A "ragwing", powered by a 65 hp Continental. Built in the West Trenton factory in 1941 it began its career in the southern United States. Having moved through Alabama, Oklahoma and Georgia it ended up in Florida with its eightteenth owner who reconditioned the plane in 1987. In 1991 it met with a hard landing and subsequent ground loop, damaging the undercarriage and left wing. In this condition Early Birds aquired the aircraft in 1992. As the logs stated that the plane was "in excellent condition" it was supposed that it would fly again after a relatively short period of repair. These hopes however proved to be premature as several hidden faults were discovered in the fuselage and tail feathers. Eventually it was decided to start a total restoration resulting in a sound structure. Now, after some fourteen years, this restoration is complete. On the 19th of September 2006 the Early Birds Luscombe made its second 'maiden flight' and since performs very well. Its original 1941 registration NC41902 was replaced by the dutch PH-LUS; the dutch civil authorities acknowledged the plane as an "aircraft of historic significance". The plane has been restored by a number of EB-staff members who successively spent some time on the project. A picture of the still present restorers is on this page (click for bigger picture).

Please Note: Link to the complete list of all previous owners. Early Birds are anxious to know if any previous owner or their families would be willing to share their experiences with the aircraft or its history, or to send pictures of the the Luscombe during their ownership period. In such case please do not hesitate to send a message to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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