Great Lakes Sport Trainer

Great Lakes Sport Trainer
Sport Trainer
Great Lakes 2T-1A-1
Role Trainer/Tourer
Manufacturer Great Lakes Aircraft Company
WACO Classic Aircraft
First flight 1929
Produced 1929-1933, 1973-1982, 2011-

The Great Lakes Sport Trainer is an American biplane trainer and aerobatic aircraft. Originally produced in large numbers before the company building it went bankrupt in the Great Depression in 1933. Owing to its continuing popularity, however, it was eventually placed back into production in the 1970s.


Development and design

The Great Lakes Aircraft Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio produced a design for a small two-seat sports/trainer in early 1929, with the first prototype flying in March 1929.[1] The resulting aircraft, designated 2-T-1 was a single bay biplane of mixed, fabric covered construction and with a tailskid undercarriage. Power was by a single 85 hp (63 kW) Cirrus III inline engine (as the Detroit Aircraft Corporation, the holding company for Great Lakes, also held the American rights to the Cirrus, so all Sports Trainers were originally sold with Cirrus engines).[2] Initial testing showed that the aircraft was tail heavy, so after the first four aircraft were built, the upper wing was swept back.

In January 2011 WACO Classic Aircraft announced that it will put the Great Lakes Model 2T-1A-1/2 model biplane back into production. The aircraft had not been available since 1980. The aircraft will incorporate several changes including metal wing spars. It will be offered in two models, a touring model, with a Lycoming IO-360-B1F6 engine and a higher-performance sport model, with a Lycoming AEIO-360-B1F6 engine.[3]

Operational history

The aircraft proved very successful, with about 250 built before construction ended. It was highly maneuverable even on the relatively modest power of a Cirrus engine, one aircraft holding for many years the world record for consecutive outside loops, a total of 131.[4]

The Great Lakes continued to be popular well after production ended, many aircraft being re-engined with more powerful engines, particularly Jacobs radial engines.[4] Eventually, in the 1960s, the rights for the Sport Trainer were acquired by Harvey Swank, who offered plans of the aircraft for sale to homebuilders. In 1972, Swank sold the rights on to Doug Champlin, who set up a reconstituted Great Lakes Aircraft Company to produce a revised version meeting the current airworthiness requirements, powered by modern Lycoming engines and revised materials of construction (including the use of Douglas Fir instead of Spruce.[2] The first of the new production aircraft, the Model 2T-1A-1, powered by a 140 engine was Certified in May 1973, with production starting in October that year. A more powerful version, the 2T-1A-2 followed in July 1974.[5]

Rights to the Sport Trainer continued to switch hands, resulting in production moving several times. By 1980, 137 Sport Trainers had been built.[6] Production finally finished in 1985.[7]

Rights are currently owned by Steen Aero Lab, which offers plans to build the airplane. Steen Aero claims plans are in the works for a new kit.


Great Lakes 2T-1A
Model 2T-1
Original production. 85 hp (63 kW) American Cirrus III engine. Small tail. Approximately 40 built. [1]
Model 2T-1A
Revised version with enlarged tail surfaces and 90 hp (67 kW) American Cirrus Ace engine. About 200 built.[1]
Model 2T-2 Speedster
Racing version of 2T-1-A. Powered by 95 hp (71 kW) Cirrus Hi-Drive and straight top wing. Later rebuilt as Model 2T-1E.[8]
Model 2T-1E
95 hp (71 kW) American Cirrus Ensign engine. About twelve built.[1]
Model 2T-1A-1
New production (1973 on) version. Powered by 140 hp (104 kW) Lycoming O-320 engine.
Model 2T-1A-2
More powerful version - powered by 180 hp (134 kW) Lycoming IO-360 engine.
A 2T-1E used for aero-engine testing.
WACO Classic 2T-1A-1/2
New production model starting in 2011. There will be two models, a touring model, with a Lycoming IO-360-B1F6 engine and a higher-performance sport model, with a Lycoming AEIO-360-B1F6 engine[3]

Specifications (Model 2T-1A-2)

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976-77 [5]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 20 ft 4 in (6.20 m)
  • Wingspan: 26 ft 8 in (8.13 m)
  • Height: 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m)
  • Wing area: 187.6 ft² (17.43 m²)
  • Airfoil: M-12
  • Empty weight: 1,230 lb (558 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 1,800 lb (816 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming IO-360-B1F6 4-cylinder horizontally opposed air-cooled piston engine, 180 hp (134 kW)


See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ a b c d Donald 1997, p.467.
  2. ^ a b History of the Great Lakes Sport Trainer[dead link] Retrieved 2 April 2008.
  3. ^ a b Grady, Mary (January 2011). "Waco Revives Great Lakes Biplane". AvWeb. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Davisson, Budd. "The Great, Great Lakes". Air Progress, July 1975
  5. ^ a b Taylor 1976, p.290
  6. ^ Taylor, J.W.R. 1980, p.347-348
  7. ^ The Second Generation Great Lakes 1973 - 1984. Retrieved 2 April 2008
  8. ^ Great Lakes. Aerofiles. Retrieved 29 March 2008


  • Donald, David (editor). The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. Aerospace Publishing. 1997. ISBN 1-85605-375-X.
  • Taylor, J.W.R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976-77. London: Jane's, 1976. ISBN 0 354 00538 3.
  • Taylor, J.W.R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1980-81. London: Jane's, 1980. ISBN 0-531 03953-6.

External links

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