Stunning Travel Air Replica Takes Flight

The Sun Siren, a stunning Travel Air replica, recently took its first flight to join its fleet-mate — Sky Siren. Jim Bruni

A stunning replica of the 1929 Travel Air biplane recently took its inaugural flight. Named Sun Siren, it is the fleet-mate of another airplane of the same type, Sky Siren, which has been flying since 2013 and is based at the Oxnard airport in southern California.

The Sun Siren and Sky Siren were restored and built from scratch by Dan Curran and Richard Zeiler with help from the specialists at AeroCraftsman Restorations and Replicas in Flabob. The airplanes are absolutely breathtaking, and have a unique art-deco paint scheme. The Sun Siren is predominantly yellow while the Sky Siren is mostly black.

While the airplanes look like improved versions of what came out of the Travel Air factory nearly 90 years ago, the equipment under the skin is significantly different. The Wright engine that powered the airplane has been out of production for decades. So Curran and Zeiler opted for a 300-hp Lycoming R-680-13 radial engine. The intent for the airplanes is to be used for ash scattering and the Sky Siren has been equipped with a special system that looks like a rocket launcher and allows the pilot to release multiple canisters of ashes with the push of a button in the cockpit.

Scattering ashes is not just a matter of getting the right equipment. While some amateurs don’t have any clue, the act of scattering human or animal remains actually requires special licensing, which Zeiler has acquired.

The two airplanes will also attend barnstormer events of various kinds. And the unique airplanes are likely to cause quite a stir. Sky Siren became runner up in the Antique airplane class for customized airplanes at the 2014 EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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