The phrase “like father, like son” applies to many things, including aircraft ownership.
Fred Ramin of Houston grew up flying in his father’s Luscombe Sedan. A few years ago the younger Ramin purchased a fully restored 1948 Luscombe 11A Silvaire Sedan of his own. He was more than happy to show off the show-quality airplane during last summer’s AirVenture, but was quick to note that he is the airplane’s caretaker, not the restorer.
“I got it from couple in California, Bill and Bridget Wright. They got it from the owner who did the restoration in the late 1980s,” Ramin said as he carefully wiped dust from the cowling. “It takes a lot to keep it clean, but it’s a labor of love.”
All during Oshkosh the cream and burgundy Luscombe Silvaire Sedan was surrounded by people who couldn’t get enough of the attention to detail. The knobs on the panel are polished and have the “S” monogram. The needlepoint pillows and sunshade are color coordinated to match the upholstery. The registration number, NC1666B, is on the underside of the wings, which was common back in the day.
Ramin’s interest in Luscombes began in childhood.
“My dad was a fan of Luscombes back in the 1960s and 1970s,” he recalled. “He had friends who had them, and he had one of the smaller ones. Then in the early 1970s my brother and I were born. In the late 1970s my dad got a Luscombe Sedan so he had room to haul us around. We still have the airplane, but it’s not flying right now because it needs maintenance.”
Between 1977 and 1995 the Ramin family Luscombe Sedan was a regular visitor to Oshkosh.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it was unique,” said Ramin. “It had scratches and fading paint, but it still attracted attention because many people had never seen one because it is so rare. The factory rolled out about 92 of them between 1948 and 1949. Of those airplanes, there are about 25 to 30 still in existence. Of those, no more than 10 or 12 are flyable.”
Although the Luscombe factory ceased operations in the 1960s, the airplane still has quite a following. Don Luscombe was one of the first aircraft designers to create an enclosed cockpit metal airplane. The idea was to make travel by air as comfortable as travel by car. There are many similarities between a luxury car of the late 1940s and the Luscombe Sedan, especially in the appointment details.
“It was built at a time when manufacturers wanted airplanes to look and feel like automobiles, and automobiles to look like airplanes,” Ramin explained. “The hardware inside, the ash trays, trim and the window cranks came from a Cadillac.”
According to Ramin, the owners that did the restoration on his plane took special care to dress it up.
“When they rolled out of the factory they didn’t have wheel pants,” he said. “The engine is not the original, but it is an E-series six cylinder like they had. This one is a 185-hp engine. Originally the Luscombes came with a 165-hp engine. Most of the fleet is still flying, but they have 185-hp engines on them.”
One of the more interesting additions to the airplane is a second venturi.
“The previous owner added that because the engine accessory case didn’t allow for a vacuum system, so the owner added an additional venturi for a turn and bank indicator,” he said. “It will pull five inches of vacuum.”
Ramin adds that with the second venturi the airplane could be flown in clouds but, despite his instrument rating, he doesn’t want to do that.
“I don’t want to take it into weather and I am pretty sure the previous owners didn’t want to do it either,” he said with a smile, adding that he enjoys going to shows and sharing the airplane with visitors.
“The Luscombe Sedan has the two kinds of beauty that attract visitors at Oshkosh: It’s pretty and its unusual,” he said.
For more information: Luscombe.org