A Legacy of Speed!
Book Review By, Carl Chance, WingsOverKansas.com
In this very comprehensive and technically impressive book, author Edward H. Phillips covers E. M. Laird’s life and the airplanes he built, with nearly 200 rare photos, many never before published. Also included is a comprehensive listing of all Laird airplanes produced, with their serial numbers, specifications, and original buyers.
Emil Matthew “Matty” Laird’s four years in Wichita made a great and lasting impact. It spawned more than two-dozen aircraft manufacturing companies in the 1920’s and 30’s in Wichita of which three remain. As a 14-year-old, this Chicago, Illinois lad saw his first airplane fly in an exhibition in 1910, an experience that endowed him with a future in aviation, part of which would have a lasting and profound effect on Wichita, Kansas.
In 1919 “Matty” set up shop in Wichita, building the Laird Swallow, America’s first commercial aircraft. In those four very productive years in the Air Capital, about 43 Laird Swallows were produced. After moving back to his hometown of Chicago, he designed and manufactured the LC-R Speedwing series of planes. Laird racers included the Solution and Super Solution, the latter winning the first Bendix Air Race in addition to setting a transcontinental speed record in 1930. His Laird-Turner Racer won the 1928 and 1929 Thompson Trophy Races flown by famed racer Roscoe Turner.
The ten chapters start with “Fledgling Experiments,” moving to “Laddie Laird the Looper” then “Flight of the Swallow,” “Jake’s Folly,” “Breaking Point,” “Back in Business,” “Racing Fever,” “Laird’s Last Stand,” and finally “Thoroughbred of the Airways.” There are a number of drawings along with the photos in this profusely illustrated book. Author Edward H. Phillips covers Laird’s career, the E. M. Laird Aircraft Co., and the record-setting planes that he built. It’s a fascinating look at the early days of commercial aviation and air racing in the United States.
Author Edward H. Phillips has been an aviation historical researcher for over 20 years. He is the author of several aviation books, including Travel Air-Wings Over The Prairie; Piper-A Legend Aloft; Cessna-A Master’s Expression; Beechcraft-Pursuit of Perfection; Staggerwing; Wings of Cessna; and Mystery Ship!
LAIRD AIRPLANES, A Legacy of Speed, can be ordered from Specialty Press by calling 1-800-895-4585 or by visiting www.specialtypress.com.