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In 1922, T.C. Ryan founded a flying service in San Diego that would lead to several aviation ventures bearing the Ryan name, including Ryan Airlines founded in 1925.
T.C. Ryan, previously best known for building Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic Spirit of St. Louis, actually had no part in building the famous plane. Ryan had been owner or partner in several previous companies, one of which also bore the name Ryan Aeronautical. The Spirit of St. Louis was not built by the final Ryan Aeronautical entity.
The new company's first aircraft was the Ryan ST or "Sport Trainer", a low-wing tandem-seat monoplane with a 95 hp (71 kW) Menasco B-4 "Pirate" straight-4 engine. Five were built before production switched to the Ryan STA (Aerobatic) with a more powerful 125 hp (93 kW) Menasco C-4 in 1935. This aircraft had enough power for aerobatic display, and it won the 1937 International Aerobatic Championships. A further improved Ryan STA Special was built in 1936, with a supercharged Menasco C-4S with 150 hp (112 kW).
In 1937 and 1938 a second civilian aircraft model was introduced, the Ryan SCW-145 for Sport Coupe, Warner 145 horsepower (108 kW) engine. The SCW was a larger three-seater aircraft with a sliding canopy and side-by-side front seating. The prototype SCW was originally powered by a Menasco engine, however prototype testing revealed that more power was needed, hence the move to the Warner 145 hp (108 kW), 7-cylinder radial engine for production models. Thirteen examples of the SCW were built, although the last one was assembled from surplus parts decades after the initial production run was finished.
The Ryan Aeronautical Company was founded by T. Claude Ryan in San Diego, California in 1934. It became part of Teledyne in 1969, and of Northrop Grumman when the latter company purchased Teledyne in 1999. Ryan built several historically and technically significant aircraft, including four innovative V/STOL designs, but its most successful production aircraft was the Ryan Firebee line of unmanned drones used as target drones and unmanned air vehicles.
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