Imagine walking into a room filled with a 1909 Cycle Car, next to it, spare parts to make three more cars, a very large carpenter’s tool box filled with dozens of original sugar pine sand-casting patterns to make more parts, a stack of original mechanical drawings, and photos. Next to this a 42 foot wingspan, one-off, experimental bi-plane with a seven-cylinder Gnome Omega Rotary engine, an ash and steel tube air frame, still in original fabric covering with tandem seating, pneumatically suspended landing gear, nickel plated controls, plus hand crafted aluminum pontoons…..and it all needs a NEW home! And it could all be acquired as a donation! What would you do if you managed a transportation museum and you were offered all this?
Short answer: The National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa said YES!
But we knew there were associated liabilities like caring for the airplane’s fragile fabric, disassembling it and safely transporting it about 300 miles, getting it re-assembled, then getting it hung in the Museum for display.
Everything is “home” at the National Motorcycle Museum, but the biggest piece; the fuselage and wing units still need stabilized and brought home.
We have launched a GoFundMe campaign to try and raise $22,000 to safely move it, stabilize its condition and to preserve it for all to enjoy. We hope you can help make this happen.
The Steco Aerohydroplane is more than 100 years old, and some experts say it may be the oldest unrestored airplane in the world. The Cycle Car has tandem seating and uses an early Mack V-Twin motorcycle engine. The Steco Aerohydroplane and Steco Cycle Car, spare parts, drawings and casting patterns will all be on display at the National Motorcycle Museum for all to take in this amazing story in history.
Ralph S. Stephens engineered and designed both transportation devices. This new exhibit will feature the story of Stephens, information on how the onset of World War I was cause for all this cool stuff to become “buried” for over 80 years, then saved by some enthusiasts, but then in need of a new home again.
As a transportation museum, it’s our mission to educate, entertain and, frankly sometimes thrill you with the inventions and designs that make our world interesting. World renown museums like the Smithsonian and the Henry Ford have for decades received as donations the greatest, most significant objects in the world. The National Motorcycle Museum heard of this amazing collection which had barely seen the light of day and was in distressed circumstances, and needed rescued. So that is what we plan to do and we hope you can help. Here are some photos of these vintage finds: