Our New Standard D-25 “Stanley” is among the few remaining examples of aircraft built specifically for barnstorming. It is a rugged, simple airplane, not designed for transportation, but just for the fun of flying.
After World War I, the American public fell in love with aviation. In fields across the country, pilots were eager to sell airplane rides. They often used war surplus “Jennys” and Standard J-1 airplanes, which were cheap to buy, but carried only one passenger. A then-famous showman, Ivan Gates, wanted to expand his “Gates Flying Circus” with as many passenger rides as possible. He teamed with Charles Healy Day, designer of the original Standard J-1 biplanes, to build new airplanes capable of carrying four passengers and using readily available 180 hp. water-cooled Hisso engines. The result was the Gates-Day D-24, named as Day’s 24th successful aircraft design. Their 1928 prototype put the pilot and four passengers in a single open cockpit and was called “five men in a tub.” The production design was changed to have two separate cockpits; the business was renamed the New Standard Company, and six D-24’s were built in the Patterson, New Jersey facility.
While the D-24 models flew well, a more reliable and powerful engine was needed. Day’s next design used the newer 220 hp. Wright “Whirlwind” J5 engine and was called the New Standard D-25. Its improved performance was a hit with barnstormers, who could now carry as many as 40 paying passengers per hour. Doors on each side allowed one set of riders’ to board as the previous riders’ disembarked. The rides weren’t long, but thousands of delighted passengers took first flights this way.
Operating from unimproved farming fields was hard on an airplane, so the D-25 was designed to be rugged and easily repaired. Its construction featured simple duralumin angles, bolted and riveted into a sturdy structure. A very large fabric-covered upper wing was used to lift the passenger load, leading to the nickname “Canvas Cloud.”
“Stanley” was built in 1929 and licensed in January of 1930. Its first owner was a WWI ace named Ken Unger, who was a test pilot for the New Standard Company, of Unger Aircraft, Inc. based in Hadley Field New Brunswick, New Jersey. During the early 30’s the New Standard Company went out of business during the depression and Mr. Unger ended up with two airplanes, of which this was one. Mr. Unger used the plane to hop rides and at one point had a contract to spray for mosquitoes.
“Stanley” is one of the only New Standards that seems to have survived the crop dust era, which basically wore out or destroyed all the others. Initially this airplane had the same owner for 37 years, then it was sold and rebuilt several times until it was purchased by the EAA who refurbished the entire airplane. We were fortunate enough to acquire “Stanley” from the EAA and are excited to return this plane to its original purpose, bringing open-cockpit flight to excited passengers across the country!