Vintage aircraft owners have plenty to enjoy at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this summer, from the many warbirds flying or on display to a celebration for the engine that has become instrumental for general aviation. Owners and enthusiasts can celebrate 90 years of the Continental A-40 with the largest gathering of A-40 engines in the last 60 years.
The four-cylinder A-40 2 engine was introduced in 1933, changing general aviation forever. The 37 -hp engine changed the affordability and accessibility of flying and made general aviation what it is today. With the introduction of the new affordable engine, flight schools could afford to purchase, operate and maintain aircraft while still making a profit.
Photo of the A-40 engine from the National Air and Space Museum
The world’s first horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine launched a new design platform, which is still in production today, with more than one million produced. For over six years, the A-40 was the only engine available for light aircraft manufacturers. Piper, Taylorcraft and Heath relied on the A-40 for their aircraft and brought the light aircraft to life and to the sky.
Over 2,500 planes were built during the height of the Great Depression using the A-40 engine. The size of the engine led to an even more efficient design. This gave way to the introduction of four-place, 200-mph airplanes.
There are less than 30 A-40-powered airplanes still flying in North America. This year, at AirVenture, guests can see over a dozen of these unique aircraft all together. A gathering of this kind is rare and gives the attendees and owners a chance to revel in the view of a sight so important to aviation history.
The Vintage Aircraft Association will be hosting a reunion, allowing visitors to gather and see the planes in Vintage Parking and the Vintage Plaza. A cutaway A-40 will be available for viewing inside the Vintage hangar, allowing guests to see the engine up close while learning about its impactful legacy on general aviation.