Everyone expected a boom in aircraft sales after the end of World War II. The Aeronca Corporation laid down the design of the
Aeronca Champ in 1944 in preparation. By that time, the Piper Cub was a 15 year-old design. And Aeronca designed the Champ
to be everything the Piper Cub was not. Features included piloting from the front seat, a roomy cockpit, higher cruise speed,
sleeker lines, and car-like door. Everything else was similar: 65 horsepower Continental, two passengers front and back,
and virtually the same gross weight.
Everything about flying a Piper Cub is easy. As we say, it takes off at 60,
cruises at 60, and lands at 60. The controls are well balanced and relatively light. It has gentle and predictable stall
characteristics. And it had William Piper, a marketing genius, who took the second least-expensive light plane after the Aeronca
C-2/C-3, and made it the best selling aircraft in America. The Aeronca Champ is often called an "honest airplane". At
least it keeps the pilot honest. The controls are a little heavier than Cub. But the biggest difference is adverse yaw.
The Champ must be flown with coordinated rudder input or it will embarrass the pilot beyond belief.
About 8,100 Aeronca
Champ 7ACs were produced until production ceased in 1948. The military ordered an 85 hp version, the 7BCM, with a larger
dorsal fin. The 7BCM was designated the L-16A. The following year the Army Air Corps ordered a 90 hp version, the 7CCM,
with fuel injection, designated the L-16B. The civilian version became the 7DC with a larger dorsal fin and a fuel tank in the
right wing. Only 166 7DCs were produced until production ceased in 1951. The Champ had an oleo type of landing gear that
is especially rugged if not indestructible. It is complex but a beautiful design. Some of the military versions sported
a "no bounce" landing gear--longer than the regular gear and supposedly better able to withstand crosswinds (although you could not
prove it by me).
The last version to roll off the line was the 7EC, and it has survived in various forms up to the present
day. In 1954, Champion Aircraft of Osceola, Wisconsin, put the 7EC back into production where it became the 7ECA Citabria in
the early 1960s. You can now buy the Champ in a light sport aircraft version.
The Aeronca Champ is the culmination
of the first light plane, designed by Gene Roche--the C-2 "bathtub" produced in the later 1920s. It featured a two-cylinder
horizontally-opposed engine that became the basis for the Continental series of aircraft engines (another story). Roche used
a triangular shaped fuselage for light weight and strength which is still a (hidden) part of the design today.
derived from an article "Classic Comparison: The Aeronca Champ" by Budd Davisson, EAA Sport Aviation, June 1997.)