Corben Super Ace

A Homebuilt Classic from the Golden-Age


During 1935.Popular Aviation magazine published a series of articles concerning this attractive single-seat sportplane intended for construction by amateurs. The Ford Model A automobile engine was used for power,and it too was subject of an article describing modifications and needed accessories.
The Super Ace was designed by Orlan G. Corben, who had also produced other sport planes such as the Baby Ace and Junior Ace.  Praiseworthy for simplicity and economy, the Super Ace incorporated similar straight-forward construction philosophy combined with readily available low cost materials. Its exciting appearance and spirited performance made the Super Ace an intriguing proposition, as did the dramatic full-color painting by Hermin R. Bollin on the April 1935 Popular Aviation front cover.
Over the years, models ranging from tiny wooden "solids" to large radio control examples, have helped keep the Super Ace familiar to many aviation enthusiasts.This seems appropriate, because Orlan Corben himself was a model builder. Lightplane authority John Underwood estimates that at least six full-size Super-Aces were constructed, four of them prior to 1940.

Prototype Super Ace

Images of Factory Literature

The Story and Images of an Original Super Ace

Specifications: The prototype Super Ace spanned 25 feet, but according to the designer,extra area was added "in favor of the fellows who live in high altitudes."The span addition amounted to two feet,although slight variations exist in published dimensions. Wing Span: 27'3.5". Weight (empty):569 pounds.
Performance: Top speed:100 MPH, Cruise speed:85 MPH. Landing speed: 32 MPH. Take-off run: 200 feet. Economy: 25 miles per gallon.
Engine Data: Modified Ford Model A automobile powerplant. Maximum RPM:2000. Weight: 219 pounds.
References:Popular Aviation June- October 1935. The Vintage Airplane, June 1985 and The Williams Bros. Model Co.


I began construction of my Super Ace in 1993 and flew it for the first time on February 28th, 1999.  I had always thought it was one of the most handsome of the early homebuilts and after examining the plans, I decided it would be an ideal first project.  With it's tube and fabric construction, wood wing, and aluminum cowling, it provided practice in every aspect of aircraft construction.  The conversion of the Model A gave additional educational opportunities.  I decided early on, to stick to the original plans as closely as possible, with the only major changes in areas of safety.  For example I installed brakes and a steerable tailwheel as well as a shoulder harness. I welcome comments from other Corben builders and enthusiasts and will add images as they become available.

Click on thumbnails below for larger images



  Here are a few pictures of a 1928 TravelAir 4000 I recently restored for David Bradley, the owner of Calilfornia Dreamin. David keeps the airplane a French Valley airport in Southern California were he uses it to give biplane rides around the Temecula wine country

Complete pictures, Before, During and After

Email Mark Lightsey at:

TravelAir restorers association

For your own Corben data plate like the one shown above,
Contact Ted Blakely at:

Model A's in airplanes? You'd better believe it!  The Buckeye Pietenpol Association

How about those Junior Aces? Try Scott's page at: