Gwinn’s Aircar

On this date, August 23, 1938, the Gwinn’s Aircar crashed and killed two.

Gwinn had designed what he deemed was a safe, roadable airplane after two years of dedicated research and development, and in 1935 he organized the Gwinn Aircar Company Inc. in Buffalo, serving as the new firm’s president and chief engineer. Two years later, the prototype Gwinn Aircar was completed and test-flown by Richard K. Bennett, who also gave well-known aviator Frank Hawks the chance to test the new plane. After Hawks flew the Aircar in Buffalo, he was so enthusiastic about its performance that he agreed to become Gwinn Aircar’s vice president in charge of sales.

The Gwinn Aircar Company of Buffalo, NY was formed in 1935 by Joseph M Gwinn, Jr, former Chief Engineer at Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. The ‘Aircar’ was designed as a ‘foolproof’ airplane that would be simple and, above all, safe to fly since it would neither stall nor spin. The aircraft first flew in early 1937 and received Civil Aeronautics Authority Approved Type Certificate 682. Gwinn hired Frank Hawks, racing pilot and record setter, and Nancy (Harkness) Love, another famous pilot, to tour the country demonstrating the aircraft. On 23 August 1938, Hawk failed to clear high tension power lines while taking off in the Aircar and was killed in the resulting crash. Gwinn suspended production and closed the Aircar plant.