When Giuseppe Bellanca, designer of the first enclosed cockpit single engine aircraft, sold his original company in 1954, the manufacture of his designs was continued by Downer Aircraft who took on the type certificate of the renowned Bellanca Crusair. This was developed into the Cruisemaster, and later further developed into an aircraft with 300hp and large single tail equal in area to the Cruisemaster’s triple tail. Designated 17-30, it was named Viking in recognition of the number of Scandinavians living in Minnesota where the plane was built.
Manufactured mainly in the 1960s and 70s but in small numbers until 2005, some 1300 Vikings, Super Vikings and Turbo Vikings were produced. With a spruce wing and a canvas covered fuselage and tail, the Viking was distinct from its mainly aluminium built competitors. The design slowly evolved gaining improvements such as electric flaps, a fully enclosed nosewheel and optional turbocharging. However, power remained constant at 300hp with either Continental IO-520 or Lycoming IO-540 engines. The Viking has an impressive reputation for both manoeuvrability and stability, and although not certified for aerobatics it has demonstrated itself to be highly aerobatic in the hands of the famous display pilot Debbie Gary, who was retained by the Bellanca factory to demonstrate a specially certified stock aeroplane, N28061, in 1977-8.
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