Seemingly fragile, the Aeronca's structure was sturdy enough to put up with the rigors of combat duty, for those little two-seat "Grasshoppers" served with the Army and Air Force in the Korean War, as well as with the National Guard stateside, and as primary trainer of choice for the Civil Air Patrol in the mid-'50s.
After the war, when US civilian aircraft production resumed, Aeronca upgraded and redesigned its prewar designs into the 65-hp Model 7AC Champ. The Champ quickly became one of the the most popular training aircraft of the post-war pleasure-flying boom. The 7AC, in turn, was soon upgraded to the 7BC, with a larger engine, and was subsequently produced for the US Army under the designation L-16A (85-hp engine) and L-16B (90-hp engine). It served in the Army throughout the Korean War, where it performed many of the same roles it had in WWII: Target-spotting, observation, general utility, and even rescue.
In the late 1950s, quite a few L-16s returned to civilian life, where most of them shed their wartime paint and resumed life as 7BCM or 7CCM Champs, teaching primary students to fly all across the US. Still others went on to serve in the US Civil Air Patrol, a civilian search-and-rescue arm of the US Air Force. As the years have passed, a few have recently been restored to their L-16 livery in commemoration of their unique history. The lineage of these versatile and honest airplanes is such that they do not attract a great deal of attention at warbird gatherings, yet their place in military aviation is undeniable and appreciated by a growing number of enthusiasts and owners.Essentially this Aeronca Champion was an upgraded version of the World War II Aeronca L-3 design that entered service in 1941 as Observation classification O-58 Defender. Five hundred and nine L-16As were built, and 100 more were delivered as L-16B with a 90 hp Continental O-205-1.
Manufactured by Aeronca Aircraft Corp, Middletown OH.
The "Bug Smasher"
Our '49 Aeronca is detailed out as a medical evacuation plane for the 86th Inf. Regt, 10th Mountain Division and represents the museum frequently where it is seen as part of a "fly-by" for community parades, etc.