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The Colorful History of Aerocar N103D

           Aerocar N103D has had the most colorful history of all four of the Model One Aerocars existing today.

            The first owner of N103D, serial number 2, was a Mr. Whitebrecht from Massachusetts who displayed his Aerocar widely at automobile and aircraft shows.  One such display took him to Havana, Cuba in the early days of the Fidel Castro regime.  Fidel’s brother Raúl was flying in the Aerocar when it ran low on fuel.  While they were landing on a country road, a frightened horse ran out in front of the Aerocar, damaging its wing.  A repair was improvised using sheet metal from a five-gallon can, and the plane was successfully flown back to Boston where it was repaired.  There is also an unconfirmed report of a bullet hole near the tail, a souvenir of that escapade.
 



   Raúl Castro at the wheel of N103D.  Click the picture for larger view.

Click the pictures for larger views.

 

          After “many other adventures,” N103D was sold to the “World’s Largest Chrysler Dealer” in Philadelphia, who used it for display and promotion. Then it was acquired by Aerocar International in Fort Worth, Texas, a group which was negotiating with Ling-Temco for its mass production. When that fell through, N103D was tied up for a while in litigation.

           In 1961 and ‘62, N103D went to Portland, Oregon where it served as the traffic-watch plane for radio station KISN.

            After more than a year and 1,000 hours over the streets of Portland, the Aerocar was purchased, via an aircraft dealer in Eugene, Oregon, by a young man from Mossyrock, Washington, who traveled for Proctor & Gamble.  It is said that he utilized the Aerocar fully – both flying and driving his territory.  However, N103D suffered a mishap while in his possession.  Molt Taylor recalls that a fierce wind blew the Aerocar into a ravine in South Dakota while the car module was being driven, towing the wings/tail. 

            Molt Taylor acquired the damaged car module, trading the one from N100D, which had been his demonstrator. The N103D engine, a Lycoming 0-340-D2B, was overhauled and moved to N100D.  Then FAA designation of the car module was changed to N103D in order to match the wings/tail.  A weight and balance document bears the notation, “for red Aerocar N100D before change to N103D.”  Molt Taylor rebuilt the damaged car module into the prototype of his newly designed Aerocar III.
 

          
           After repairs, the newly reborn N103D was traded for a group of aircraft radios which were later discovered to be stolen.  Upon recovering N103D from that caper, the long-suffering Oregon dealer sold it yet again, this time to an airline pilot in Kansas City.

            As a young girl, the current owner watched actor Bob Cummings fly and drive his Aerocar on his weekly TV show “The Bob Cummings Show”  in the early sixties and became intrigued with this oddity.  The present owner assumed that they had been produced and thousands had been built.  In 1978 the present owner began advertising for an Aerocar in the sales magazine Trade-a-Plane.  After the ad had run for many months with no response, a call came one day from an airline pilot in Kansas City.  “Look,” he said patiently, “you’re wasting your money on that ad. Only five were built. I have one and the others are accounted for.” Downhearted, the present owner nonetheless left a phone number in case he should ever decide to sell his Aerocar.

            In late 1981 the present owners received a phone call from Kansas City inquiring whether they were still interested in the Aerocar, but it was a woman’s voice this time.  It turned out that the airline pilot and his wife were divorcing and the Aerocar was to be sold.  The present owners purchased the Aerocar N103D and it’s been in their possession since then.

 N103D today is in very good original condition, down to the decals on the dash.  It is an excellent example of a very rare historical vehicle.  It could be displayed “as is” or restored to flying condition again.  It has been garaged since its last flight in 1977.

Please click Aerocar Galleries for many more historical and current pictures of N103D and other Aerocars.
 


 N103D flying.
  Click the picture for larger view.

 

Return to Home Page Here's how to make an offer or answer your questions. Click for N103D's Technical Specs Click to see vintage and recent Aerocar photos. Click for links to other Aeorcar sites.