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From The Odd Airplane File, Part Three: Anderson Greenwood Model AG-14

The Last One Built, And One of Two Still In The Air

by ANN Correspondent Scott Wagner

At the close of World War II, three young Boeing aeronautical engineers decided to pool their resources and talents, and strike out on their own. Ben Anderson, Marvin Greenwood, and Lomis Slaughter, all originally from Houston, set out to build the perfect small airplane. They returned to Houston to set up shop, and located their operation at Sam Houston Airport, hoping to take advantage of the anticipated post-war surge in private aviation.

In their design, Anderson Greenwood -- as the company became known -- was focused on appealing to the senses of the pilot, with vision being of the utmost importance. With huge windows and a pusher configuration, the AG-14 filled this requirement perfectly. Also satisfied by the rear mounted, 90 HP Continental engine are the senses of smell and hearing, because all combustion is occurring behind the pilot. Therefore, exhaust fumes and decibels are whisked away by the slipstream.

The also wanted to make it very car-like. Entry was made easy with large doors, and there is only one brake pedal, just like a car. Interestingly, there is a starter pedal, which also harkens to some autos of the era. Like its contemporary, the Ercoupe, the AG-14 steers with the yoke during ground operations. Initially, Anderson Greenwood intended to produce the AG-14 without rudder pedals, but elected to go with more conventional controls. With a 44" cabin width at the shoulders, and a storage area behind the seat capable of holding 250 pounds, the AG-14 was a capable personal aircraft.

Oddly, the AG-14 has only one small rudder, despite its twin tail configuration. Presumably, this was to simplify manufacturing. Another unusual aspect of the flight control system is the aileron interconnect. Normally, in a turn, one aileron goes up, and the opposite goes down. Often they deflect at different angles, but the low wing aileron is up, and the high wing aileron is down. On the AG-14, in a shallow turn, the ailerons deflect as on a normal plane. As the angle of bank increases, the high, outside aileron reverses its travel, until it is ultimately also deflected upwards. In a full deflection turn, the inside aileron is at 40 degrees up, and the outside is at 10 degrees, also up. This is accomplished through pulleys and bell cranks, which made the initial rigging of the airplane a challenge after restoration.

Upon returning to Houston in 1947, the company quickly got to work on the AG-14, and flew the prototype that same year. After several years of testing and tweaking, the AG-14 was certified in 1950.  A total of five were built before manufacturing came to a grinding halt in 1953, when materials became unavailable due to the Korean War. The company continued as a government contractor, and remains viable to this day. Currently, they are a manufacturer of valves and manifolds, primarily for the oil industry. Interestingly, the company revisited the airplane game in the late '70s, with the Aries T-250, an all aluminum, T-tailed retractable with five seats. They built one in Houston, bought the Bellanca factory, and manufactured a handful before the light plane industry went belly up in the early 1980's.

Dave Powell, of Rogers, AR is the current owner of N3904K, serial number Five, the last of its breed to roll off the assembly line. Dave's father worked for Anderson Greenwood, although he joined the company shortly after aircraft production ceased. Growing up, he knew Mr. Anderson and Mr. Greenwood well, and decided in the late '90's that he wanted to track down an AG-14 and restore it. It took him about a year to find one. Serial Number One crashed and was destroyed in the 1960s, and at the time SN#3 was in the EAA AirVenture Museum here at Oshkosh. It has since been sold to a private owner, and returned to flying status. He discovered one in New York State, and two in Houston. Both of the Houston birds were in "poor condition, total basketcases. I choose the better of the two", said Powell. The other basketcase AG-14 had actually been used by the University of Mississippi Raspet Flight Research Lab for ducted fan research in the 1960s, and had been highly modified.

Dave took #5 home for a ground up restoration. The gentleman he was buying the airplane from clued him in to a source of parts in California. Turns out, someone tried to resurrect the design in the 1960's. Dave tracked down the grandson of that party, who had sold the inventory, but provided Dave with information on the current owner. Powell contacted the owner about buying some parts. "He told me to buy all of it or nothing; he was tired of moving the stuff from hangar to hanger, and wanted rid of it. I rented the biggest Ryder truck they have, and packed it full. There were parts of 25-30 airplanes there, mostly stamped and formed parts, like the nosewheel forks, and the belly skins. Some parts there were only a handful, others there were a couple dozen. There were two fuselage pods, one even on wheels."

Here at Oshkosh, there has been a non-stop parade of visitors to the AG-14. One question everyone asks: How does it fly? Powell first flew his newly restored AG-14 on May 9 of this year, and the trip to OSH from Arkansas doubled his time in type. "It flies pretty traditionally. It's light on pitch, and pretty heavy on roll. Approach and landing are a little different; you have no visual reference out of the front, and it sits pretty low to the ground. It's easy to flare it too high. Since it only has one small rudder, the effectiveness is a little low. You need to keep the speed up on landing to maintain control, and when you touch down you need to be quick, because the ground steering is all controlled by the yoke, not the rudder pedals. If there was one thing I could change, it would be adding a second rudder. Other than that, it's a great airplane. The visibility is incredible."

If you like the unusual, check out Dave and his AG-14 in the Vintage area at AirVenture. He's located right on the flightline, just south of the LSA Mall.



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