The Liberty Gazette
February 12, 2013Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Last week we started a story about the Anderson-Greenwood AG-14, an unusual airplane built in Houston from 1950 to 1953. The design has resurfaced a few times with interest in restarting production. In the early 1960s C. G. Taylor, designer of the much loved Piper Cub and the Taylorcraft, and his friend Ray Hubert produced a bunch of parts thinking they’d resuscitate it and call it the Space Coupe, but it never made it into production. Later in 1969, Cessna Aircraft Company made careful consideration and bought one of the six AG-14s with plans to modify it as a replacement for their venerable Cessna 150 training airplane. Eventually they shelved the idea, redesigning the 150 which became the 152 which, although only built from 1977 to 1985, remains a popular trainer today.
Meanwhile Anderson-Greenwood kept manufacturing parts for other aircraft companies and other industries as well. In the early 1970s Marvin Greenwood decided he wasn’t through with building airplanes of his own design and came up another completely different idea. It was originally labeled Design #51 but would later be changed to the T-250 Aries. Anderson-Greenwood built the first one in Houston for certification then went in search of an aircraft factory.
Mike: The Bellanca Aircraft Company of Alexandria, Minnesota has been around a long time. It was one of the companies that turned down Charles Lindbergh when he asked them to build an airplane that would cross the Atlantic. Oh the regret…but that’s all water under the bridge, or air past the propeller. By the ‘70s Bellanca was producing a high performance single engine airplane called the Super Viking. For as fast as it was, over 200 mph, it was built using rather antiquated technology. And, it only had four seats. The wings were made of wood and the fuselage was steel tube framed with a fiberglass-like fabric covering called Dacron. The Viking was too heavy and couldn’t compete with Beechcraft’s Bonanza or Cessna’s Centurion, both made of aluminum and seating up to six people, so Anderson-Greenwood saw an opportunity and bought the Bellanca company and began building their airplane in Minnesota.
They made their T-250 out of aluminum and with seating up to five it looked as much ahead of its time in the 1970s as the AG-14 did in its day. It flew at 208 mph and the futuristic looking “T” tail made it look something like a jet. Alas, the Aries suffered the same fate as the AG-14, never finding its market. Only four more came off the line before production stopped in 1980 just as the ambulance-chasing liability fiasco that befell the general aviation industry was getting into full swing.
Linda: One of our Saturday morning breakfast buddies, John, who mostly hangs out in Baytown making airplane frames and other interesting things, once owned AG-14 serial number 2, which has had an interesting journey. John knows a lot about the history of the little-known airplane and the whereabouts of the surviving four out of five made. He found several trailer loads worth of parts up in Washington and shared that intel with Dave Powell, of Arkansas, whose father once worked for Anderson-Greenwood. In honor of his dad Dave used those parts to rebuild AG-14 serial number 5 which we saw at a fly-in in Oklahoma a few years ago. It is indeed a unique airplane.