This article originally appeared in the Garland/Mesquite section of The Dallas Morning News on June 2, 1995.


By Michael R. Hayslip

With all the effort Garland manufacturers have invested in aeronautical pursuits, Luscombe Airplane Corporation is the only one that ever successfully marketed and mass produced entire airplanes.

Originally located in Kansas City, the firm was created in 1935 as Luscombe Airplane Company under the leadership of Don Luscombe, an aircraft enthusiast who dreamed of designing and building personal light planes. Leopold H. P. Klotz acquired control in 1938.

Headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey during World War II, the company converted its  production to military wares, principally on Navy prime contracts for airframe parts, such as armaments and fuel tanks.

When the war ended, Klotz began searching for a better location to resume and gear up peacetime production of Luscombe’s all-metal personal plane, the Silvaire. Requirements for the new site included better flying weather, more pilots, broader labor market, lower wages, and cheaper building costs than Trenton, plus a railroad siding and room for a landing field.

A 500-acre tract of prime farming land was chosen on Jupiter Road, absorbing most of a quadrant bounded by Forest Lane to the north, Shiloh Road on the east and Miller Road on the south. Groundbreaking for the plant occurred in April of 1945.

Slowly but surely the plant buildings took shape, and by the end of the year contractors completed the parking lot, which relieved parking on either side of Jupiter Road. Later the familiar checkered water tower arose and was used with the Luscombe well to augment city water supplies during a severe drought in 1950.

Of the 6,000 Silvaires (or Model 8's) ever built, 4,000 came from Garland. Selling for $2 to 4 thousand dollars, these planes provided work for up to 1,250 employees, who cranked them out at a peak rate of 21 units per day.

Besides a payroll Luscombe assembled a cadre of employees who became familiar fixtures in the Garland community scene. The planes they produced had staying power as well, and that today the FAA maintains registration on more than 2300, which command prices of anywhere from $15 to 25 thousand each.

Nevertheless, market demand of the day failed to meet expectations, and by 1950 the company was bought in receivership by Texas Engineering and Manufacturing Company (TEMCO). Although 50 more Silvaires were built afterward, production shifted to parts and assemblies for various military and commercial aircraft.

With the merger of TEMCO and Ling Electronics in 1960, the operation was called Ling Temco Electronics. The purchase of Chance Vought in 1961 changed the name to Ling Temco Vought (LTV). Under that structure modified forms of LTV were used until 1972, when the plant was spun off from LTV to become the E- Systems, now known as the Garland Division of E-Systems.

Merle Mueller, a retired veteran of the original Luscombe crew, has maintained historical files on the company and information on Luscombe employees from 1945-1949. He now circulates an “almost nearly periodic” newsletter among the group.

Silvaire Plane

Photo Courtesy of Merle Mueller