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Home »  Collection »  Flying & Static Aircraft »  North American L-17A 'Navion'


  • Like many military liaison aircraft, the L-17 started as a civilian model. The NA 143 was a 4-seat low-wing mono- plane with a 185 hp engine. In a brilliant bit of marketing, the aircraft bore a striking resemblance to the P-51 D Mus- tang. Unlike the Mustang, however, the Navion had a tricycle landing gear which improved the pilot's visibility during ground operations. North American Aircraft built 1,109 in 1946-47.
  • The U.S. Army Air Force became interested in the aircraft in 1946, and ordered a militarized version, which became the prototype L-17. Several minor modifications were completed, and 83 L-17 As were purchased for liaison duty and as trainers for the ROTC program. Six additional aircraft were procured as unmanned drones.
  • In 1947, Ryan Aircraft of San Diego, CA acquired the rights to design and manufacture the airplane. Ryan obtained a contract from the U.S. Air Force for the L-17B model, and delivered 158 of these in 1948 and an additional 5 aircraft in 1949. Following this, production of new aircraft ended. However, Ryan was contracted to modify 35 L-17 As with improved braking systems and increased fuel capacity. These aircraft were designated as L-17Cs. In 1962, the L-17 was re-designated the U-18 ("U" representing "Utility"). Shortly thereafter, it was retired from service. Ryan produced a total of 1,240 Navions (civilian and military) between 1949 and 1951.
  • The Tubular Service and Engineering Co. (TUSCO) of Harlingen, TX then acquired the manufacturing rights, and began production in 1960. By 1964, when production ended, a total of 2,469 Navions had been manufacture by all parties, with 246 of these being L-17s.



Status: Flyable
Manufacturer: North American Aviation
Year: 1947
Model: L-17A Navion
Registration Number: N91161
Serial Number: NAV-4-216
Crew: 1 + 3 passengers
Max T/O Weight: 2,950 lb.
Span: 33 ft. 5 in.
Length: 27 ft. 6 in.
Height: 8 ft. 7 in.
Maximum Speed: 163 mph
Cruise Speed: 150 mph
Rate of Climb: 1,250 ft/min
Power Plant: 1 × Continental 0-470-7 air-cooled engine, 185 hp
Range: 700 miles
Service Ceiling: 17,000 ft.
Armament: None


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