The Beech Model 17 design, or Staggerwing as she was popularly known, was born during the American Great Depression of the 1930s, specifically as a premier business executive transport. The Staggerwing first flew in November 1932, and set the standard for private passenger air travel for many years. Each Staggerwing was custom made, with luxurious cabins trimmed in leather, the epitome of Art Deco style.
The Staggerwing was no slouch when she was first produced, being faster than many of the military fighters of the day. She held many speed and climb records through the 1930s, winning the Texaco Trophy Race in 1933, the Bendix Trophy Race in 1936 with a woman at the controls for the first time, and the famous aviatrix Jacqueline Cochran set the woman's world speed record at 203 mph in 1937 in a Staggerwing.
Our Staggerwing was built at the Beechcraft facility in Wichita, Kansas in 1943 whereon she was delivered to the US Navy as a Model GB-2 and allocated Bu No 23689. However, under the Lend Lease Program, she was immediately shipped to the UK and delivered to the Royal Navy as Traveller Mk.I FT475 where she was based at the Royal Naval Air Station Donnibristle, Scotland with 782 Sqn. In the UK the Staggerwing was utilised as both a high speed light transport and reconnaissance aircraft.
After the war she returned to the US Navy as Bu No 32874 and there are also indications that she was allocated the US Air Force serial number 44-67724 before passing into civilian ownership where she carried the registration N1193V. In 1990, registered G-BRVE, our Staggerwing crossed the 'Pond' once more to join Pink Floyd front-man Dave Gilmour's growing aircraft collection at North Weald, Essex. She subsequently passed on to another UK operator in 2000 where she remained for five years before joining The Fighter Collection fleet in 2005.