"CLASS OF 1946"


Autographed by Clyde R. Smith.

L/E of 750. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Size: 32" x 19"

Price: $95

Artist Burt Mader's beautiful limited edition art print celebrates the Debut at the Brand New Piper Cub Super Cruiser (PA-12) on May 16, 1946.

For lovers of the Piper airplanes of the Forties and Fifties, a significant event took place on May 16, 1946. It was on this day that Clyde R. Smith, Sr. climbed into a sleek new airplane at the Piper plant in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. At the time Clyde was the Chief Experimental Test Pilot for Piper. It was a beautiful day for flying and Clyde was eager to find out how this beautiful new plane would perform in a takeoff/climb test series. The 100 horses of the Lycoming engine would give this airplane an exciting advantage over the slow, smaller 65 hp engines that powered the previous Cubs in the Piper line.

After an exhilarating two hours spent putting the plane through its paces, the young test pilot was satisfied. This airplane was truly a 'winner'. Now, a suitable proper name would be needed for this new 'super' Cub. What started out as the J-5C Cruiser now officially became the Piper Cub Super Cruiser PA-12.

Artist Burt Mader takes us back in time to show us how the PA-12 looked on that special day in May, 1946, with Clyde in the driver's seat. We see it from a spot where only aviation art can put us 55 feet in the air, looking down on Lock Haven's "Hangar I" which lies about 15 degrees east of our spot in the sky. Clyde is almost at our height and just about to pass us. The sound of that hundred-horsepower Lycoming at 2400 rpm is music that makes the heart beat faster. And, what a great-looking airplane!

The Piper Aircraft Corporation hired Clyde Smith in December, 1941 as an inspector. His work familiarized him with every detail of the design and production of all models. He was chosen for special training and with two others, became a factory flight instructor. Soon, he was splitting his time between instructing and test flying for the experimental engineering department becoming Chief Experimental Test Pilot just after the close of WW-II in late 1945. He was eventually to spend most of his time on developmental work which continued up to his retirement in the Fall of 1976.

Looking at Burt Mader's wonderful painting of what was an important event in the history of the Piper Aircraft Corporation the viewer might wonder why the town of Lock Haven isn't breaking out the champagne. However, it is apparent that most of Clyde's men have plenty of other work projects on their minds. Inside the plant, three hundred yards behind us workers are busily building yet more of the classic J-3 Cubs to satisfy the demand for the easy-to-fly training planes that were so popular with pilots, all over the world.

Each print of "Class of 1946" is numbered and signed by the artist and personally countersigned by test pilot Clyde R. Smith, Sr. You will also receive with your print a Certificate of Authenticity, a photo of Clyde and a reproduction from his logbook documenting his test flights.

Clyde R. Smith, Sr. as he appeared in 1946 when he was the test pilot on the first Piper Cub Super Cruiser PA-12. Smith, now in his eighties, is still flying a PA-12, a Grand National Championship award-winning PA-12 which he and his son, Clyde Jr., have restored to exacting production standards and appearance.