The Stinson V77 “Peter Pan” is the navy version of the civilian SR-10 Reliant of the 1930s. The US Army Air Corps version was called the AT19. Stinson Reliants became the mainstay of Alaskan bush operators for more than a quarter of a century. The large flaps enabled a pilot to land thousand pound loads on unimproved sand bars.
Bush plane pilot Clayton flew Reliants on wheels, skis, and floats. He flew the mail runs along the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers. In 1949, with the assistance of his wife, Virginia, he flew this very plane from Bethel, AK to Boston, Mass. It is displayed here while on loan from the Clayton family. He flew the Boeing jets and still serenaded his passengers with his harmonica. “Peter Pan” proved instrumental for Clayton’s instrument rating and to become an airline captain. The Claytons returned to Fairbanks and placed “Peter Pan” in storage, where it remained for 43 years.
The Stinson Aircraft Company was founded in Dayton, Ohio, in 1920 by aviator Edward “Eddie” Stinson – 9 years after he learned to fly with the Wrights brothers. In 1925, Stinson would make Detroit, Michigan, the base of operations for his company. Over the next three decades, more than 13,000 aircrafts would carry the Stinson brand.
From 1933 to 1941, Stinson delivered 1,327 Reliants – ranging from the SR-1 through the SR-10 – each variation building upon its predecessor with upgraded engines and design refinements. The Stinson Reliant SR-10, introduced in 1938, was considered the ultimate model, featuring leather upholstery, walnut instrument panels, and automobile-style roll-down windows.
The Stinson Reliant was a rugged aircraft built of fabric-covered welded steel tubing structures with a single strut-braced double-tapered wing, and one of the last of the “tail draggers” (an airplane lacking a nose-wheel, so it looked like its tail dragged when taxiing).