L-16 N4628E at Brodhead, Wisconsin, USA in
Photo by Buck Wyndham
its wartime Aeronca L-3 parent, the L-16 was a US civilian aircraft in
military colors. During WWII, the Aeronca 65TC Defender had been pressed into service as
the O-58, performing light observation, utility and liaison duties. It was later
redesigned, designated the L-3, and served in many theaters and in many diverse roles.
After the war, when US civilian aircraft
production resumed, Aeronca upgraded and redesigned its prewar designs into the 65-hp
Model 7AC Champ. The Champ quickly became one of the the most popular training aircraft of
the post-war pleasure-flying boom. The 7AC, in turn, was soon upgraded to the 7BC, with a
larger engine, and was subsequently produced for the US Army under the designation L-16A
(85-hp engine) and L-16B (90-hp engine). It served in the Army
throughout the Korean War, where it performed many of the same roles it had in WWII:
Target-spotting, observation, general utility, and even rescue.
In the late 1950s, quite a few L-16s returned to
civilian life, where most of them shed their wartime paint and resumed life as 7BCM or
7CCM Champs, teaching primary students to fly all across the US. Still others went on to
serve in the US Civil Air Patrol, a civilian search-and-rescue arm of the US Air Force. As
the years have passed, a few have recently been restored to their L-16 livery in
commemoration of their unique history. The lineage of these versatile and honest airplanes
is such that they do not attract a great deal of attention at warbird gatherings, yet
their place in military aviation is undeniable and appreciated by a growing number of
enthusiasts and owners.
Engine: One 90-hp Continental C-90-8F or Continental O-205-1 flat-four piston engine
Weight: Empty 870 lbs., Max Takeoff
Wing Span: 35ft. 1.75in.
Length: 21ft. 5.75in.
Height: 7ft. 0in.
Range: 400 miles
Number Built: Unknown, probably 250+
Number Still Airworthy: Unknown. Probably
more than 50 Aeronca L-16s still exist, but many have been converted back to 7BC (or even
Aeronca Aviators Club
Arkansas Air Museum L-16
Army Wings and
Wheels -- An L-bird event in June 2007.
Canadian Bushhawks Liaison Squadron --
Airshow formation display team.
Citabria Owners Group -- Supports owners of
Aeronca wartime models.
International Liaison Pilot and Aircraft
L-16 Flight Instruction
in Maryland, USA
National Aeronca Association (USA)
Rag Wings and Radials -- Operators
of an L-16.
Red Sky Aviation -- L-16 and
7AC rentals in Livermore, California.
Books: Browse a
selection of books about liaison aircraft.
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