Based at Denver, CO, NX14429 arrived from El Paso, TX Thursday, November 21, 1935. Its pilot was John Cordner. He carried a single passenger, identified as "Shelton". At the time he signed our Register, he was his passenger Tom Shelton’s test pilot (Shelton designed the Crusader, see below). This airplane is the only one of its kind ever built.
Their airplane is an AG-4 Crusader, manufactured in 1935 by the American Gyro Company. It was originally called the Shelton Flying-Wing, although it did not resemble any later flying wing types. It was an all-metal airplane, with twin-boom, twin-engine, twin-empennage, much like the soon-to-be manufactured P-38. The engines were two 125hp Menasco C-4s.
The fuselage was a nacelle suspended between the booms. In the original, the wheels did not retract. Later in 1935, the landing gear was modified and made retractable. In the image below, it appears as if the airplane has retractable gear. The fixed-gear version had large fairings around the wheels and struts.
In 1936, American Gyro sold the plans for the Crusader to the Timm Aircraft Company, which proposed to build a retractable-gear AG-7. However, financing problems prevented any further development and/or production. Curiously, I was unable to find any reference to the Crusader in Juptner The airplane was dismantled circa 1941 and stored in a hangar in Van Nuys, CA. It was destroyed in a hangar fire.
John Cordner (L) With Crusader NX14429, Ca. 1934 (Source: Underwood)
The image above is shared with us by friend of dmairfield.org, John Underwood. The image is of Cordner on the left standing by the Crusader NX14429. Site visitor Alexander Roca comments on the image, "The person on the right is the AG-4 designer, aeronautical engineer, Thomas Myles [sic] Shelton."
Note the last two digits of the airplane's registration number. Cordner's recording of the airplane's registration number in the Register reverses the last two digits. Cordner was in error, as the airplane is actually NX14429.
The license plate on this automobile is from Colorado, dated 1934. Another photo of NX14429 is at aerofiles.com. A fine motion picture of the first flight of the airplane is on YouTube. No guarantee of long-term availability of this link. Please let me KNOW if it is unavailable.
As mentioned above, NX14429 was manufactured by the American Gyro Co., Denver CO, ca. 1935. The company issued stock in 1932, so was at least in business at that time. The company went bankrupt in 1938. It was a 4-place airplane with a payload of 1,000 pounds. Plans sold to Timm Aircraft Co. to build a proposed 7-place retractable-gear AG-7. Financing problems prevented further development.
Thomas Miles Shelton's papers representing the bulk of his career are held at the University of Wyoming as follows. See pilot Cordner's link for further biographical information about passenger Shelton.
|Shelton, Thomas Miles
2.35 cubic ft. (4 boxes)
Thomas Miles Shelton worked for the American Gyro Company from 1935 to 1941 as an
engineer, where he developed the Shelton AG-4 Crusader Airplane. During World War II he was an engineer for Aero Crafts Corporation and later served as an engineering consultant with North American Aviation. Collection contains correspondence, mostly relating to the Crusader Airplane (1931-1971);photographs of Shelton and the Crusader Airplane (1937-1944); and project files with photographs, reports and blueprints on airplanes and airplane engines.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 03/05/10 REVISED: 09/03/12