Thursday, May 27, 2010

Classic ST-A

As I mentioned in the last post, the PT-22 was derived from the Ryan ST-3KR, which itself was a derivative of the classic ST/ST-A. Designed by T. Claude Ryan in 1934, the ST (Sport Trainer) was a sleek, stylish airplane with an in-line, air-cooled engine. Five were built with the Menasco B-4 95 h.p. engine before it was uprated to a 125 h.p. C-4 in-line engine, also by Menasco. This version was called the ST-A (Sport Trainer - Aerobatic).

This particular subject was shot at the Sonoma Valley Airport, (also called "Schnellville) in 2000 while we were on a Northern California vacation with the kids around the time of their 1-year wedding anniversary. We were passing by and I saw a derelict Lockheed Harpoon in the field, so I had to stop. This was a time when you could actually go prowling around airports with a camera without people getting hysterical.

In any event, I happened across this gorgeous ST-A being repaired in a hangar. Apparently the owner of the Ryan was flying at an vintage aircraft fly-in and a piece of something broke off in the cockpit and got sucked out into the slipstream, where upon it punched a hole in the fabric-covered port horizontal elevator. It was in the process of being repaired when I found it.

The fellow working on the Ryan graciously allowed me inside the hangar to shoot the aircraft, which I did. As I've mentioned before, I love the look of polished natural metal. The above shot captures the quality of that look rather well.

The bottom photo also makes for a striking image with the sun highlighting the front of the aircraft, showing off the spats on the wheels and the elliptical nose cowling over the Menasco engine. For some reason this shot of the Ryan always strikes me as looking like an alien grasshopper emerging from the shadows. The bizarre creatures from that rather campy science-fiction movie "5 Millions Years to Earth," also known as "Quatermass and the Pit," always come to mind whenever I see this. Really, they do. I have no idea why.

It kind of makes you wonder how I would do on a Rorschach Test, doesn't it?

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