Reprinted from Air Corps News Letter, March 15, 1940.

Ryan YO-51 incorporating fixed slots along the wing’s leading edge. USAAF photo.

“Emulation of our seniors,” says the News Letter Correspondent at the Ryan School of Aeronautics, San Diego, Calif., “had always seemed a pretty good adage that has paid certain appreciable dividends in our flying progress at Ryan School.

“We are now facing a very critical situation, with the appearance of the Air Corps’ latest in equipment. The first model of the Ryan YO-51 ‘Dragonfly’ has been grasshoppering in our midst and is doing things that have reduced our carefully nurtured conceptions of how an airplane flies to a pile of ashes.

“As one confused flying cadet puts it, ‘l was coming in for a landing and the first thing I knew I passed under some shade that shouldn’t have been there. I looked up and saw the “Dragonfly” about a thousand feet above me but I knew he couldn’t get into the field as high as he was so I came on in and landed. When I looked back after my landing roll, there was the darn contraption sitting on the ground about 200 yards behind me. By the time I got back to the line the “Dragonfly” was floating around at 1000 feet again. Sometimes I get discouraged.’

Ryan YO-51 Dragonfly prototype demonstrating its leading-edge slats and massive, full-span Fowler flaps during takeoff. USAAF photo.

“They tell us the plane is an experimental design for liaison and short range observation. Well, I’d hate to be a doughboy cause I suspect the YO will not be long in getting itself nicknamed the ‘Peeping Tom.’

“I can well imagine the consternation of Private Smith who sits down for a smoke when he’s supposed to be laying a phone line and hears a stentorian ‘On your feet, soldier!’ from overhead and looks up to see his C.O. leaning over the side of a motionless ‘Peeping Tom.’

“We don’t know what the performance figures are and we don’t crave enlightenment for having seen it, we still think it’s a lie. The printed word would only further confuse our waning confidence in what we’d always considered to be at least an average pair of eyes.”

Air Corps News Letter – Issued by the Office of the Air Corps (Information Division), War Department,  Washington (Munitions Building, Washington, D.C.). Vol. XXIII, March 15, 1940, No. 6, page 4.

Twenty Years of Slow-flying Airplanes, Flying magazine, March 1950.
PlaneMin Flying Speed (m.p.h.)Top Speed (m.p.h.)Speed RatioTakeoff over 50 Foot ObstacleLanding over 50 Foot ObstacleWeight (mtow) & H.P.SlotsFlapsAilerons
Stinson L-1 (O-49)361293.63400/295Handley Page leading edge slatsfull-span, partial slotteddrooping
Bellanca YO-501263887/420
Piper PA-18 Super Cub441533.55007251750/150nonepartialconventional slotted

For more on the Ryan YO-51.

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