Driggs Skylark Biplane

This beauty hangs in the Public Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Driggs Skylark Biplane, Public Museum, Grand Rapids, MI

Driggs Skylark Biplane, Public Museum, Grand Rapids, MI

The Driggs Aircraft Company of Lansing, Michigan, built only twenty-one Skylark biplanes between 1929 and 1931. Most of them were used in Western Michigan and Northern Indiana for training pilots, stunts in airshows, or carrying passengers on short business and pleasure trips. The Skylark was the favored aircraft of Northern Air Service, Central Air Service, and the Kent and Impala Flying Clubs, all based at the old Kent County Airport.

Even though its economic success was cut short by the Great Depression, the Skylark represented a leap forward in light aircraft technology. The lightweight canvas over frame design (less than 1,000 pounds with the engine) and more powerful engines were stable in the air, and allowed them to become airborne with shorter takeoff distances.

This is the only surviving production Skylark. It had a 96 h.p. engine that gave a top speed of 100 mph and a cruising range of 300 miles.

Murdoc took this photo this past weekend. A couple of more views below:

Driggs Skylark Biplane

Driggs Skylark Biplane

Driggs Skylark Biplane

Driggs Skylark Biplane

Comments

  1. I always enjoyed periodic tours of the GR Museum. Kinda reminded me of how long it’s been since I was there last. Guess I should fix that when I get home next. Sigh!

    Have you been to the Chaffee Planetarium lately? I always liked that too………….have they updated themselves (hopefully) any since the mid-late 80s when I was there last?

  2. Yeah, we actually hit a dinosaur-related presentation in the planetarium. There’s a special dinosaur exhibit going on right now (sadly, geared only for younger kids) and the planetarium show was part of that. Little in the way of stars/planets/etc, but still sorta cool.

    Our family has had a membership for the past few years and my wife takes the kids quite often. The membership runs out soon (today, maybe) and we won’t be able to renew it right away, but it’s a good time.

  3. My uncle, Ray Ruprecht, was a pioneer aviator in the Chicago area in the 20’s. He bought one of the few (just 21, I believe)Skylarks ever produced and flew it in airshows in the Chicago area. I have photos of his Skylark taken at the Glenview, IL airport when it was still a grass strip, and long before it became a naval air base. Ray had a full and fantastic career in aviation, later becoming one of the first pilots Eddie Rickenbacker hired for his start-up Eastern Airlines. Ray flew as an Eastern captain for well over 20 years before retiring.

  4. Dear Rupester,

    I have picture of my dad, Robert Spelz, next to your Uncle’s Skylark, NC 1114, at River Road Airport in Park Ridge, Il. Bob was good friends with Ray and his brother Carl Rupert. I have FAA records for that aircraft. Also, I had a 8×10 of one of the two brothers appearing, I believe, as an instructor pilot during WWII, standing Errol Flynn-like in flight gear next to a biplane trainer that I think was a Stearman PT-17. My daugher and I traced Ray and Carl’s careers a couple of years ago to see whatever happened to them. I can still remember the Rupert Safety Belt/Parachute Co. bus parked at Palwaukee (Chicago Executive) Airport in Wheeling. My dad spoke with great fondness of the brothers, but after the war, I’m not sure they had much contact with each other. I know he saw Carl make a parachute jump inside the Chicago Amphitheater.

    1. I am the Grandaughter of Carl Rupert and am looking for anyone who has any information on him. I would love to find that side of my family….. Do you know what happened to him? All I gave is a grainy photo of him jumping in the Chicago Amphitheater…..

      1. Hi Chris,
        Carl was my uncle. I remember him but didn’t know him well since he and my dad, Fred Ruprecht, didn’t get along for many years. I can put you in touch with my mom …. She would have TONS of information about Carl … If you’re interested.
        Terry

        1. Terry-
          Yes please put me in touch with your Mom – you can have her email me – or we can write the old-fashoined way- whatever she might be comfortable with…. I don’t know much but I would be grateful for anything…
          Best,
          Chris

  5. The Driggs Skylark N11301 was owned by my older brother, having purchased it from Indiana Air Service in South Bend Indiana about 1949 or 1950. At that time the aircraft had a sliding canopy, and an inverted inline ranger engine. We had it in our back yard in North Liberty Indiana for some time, and my brother and I would go to the filling station and buy 4 or 5 gallons of gasoline and set in the aircraft and run the engine with the tail tied down. engaging in “aerial combat” with scores of enemy formations !! I remember my father recovering the wings in our basement. It is great to know that the aircraft found a good home and was restored to its present condition…..Gosh where did the time go ????

  6. I am one of Terry’s cousins in Ohio. My mother was Carl and Fred’s one sister (of 3). Odd that I should find this now. I work at a public library and just took a parachute paddle and original white parachute nylon to put with an early pilot display. At one time there was a bunch of the orange silk which I always wanted made into a jacket because of its vibrancy. Don’t know where the orange ended up. I am glad to see this plane as I did not know what Uncle Ray flew at that time. marianne

  7. Marianne-
    Carl was my Grandfather but I never met him and I am trying to find him. All I have is a fuzzy black and white photo of him jumping indoors in a parachute…Of course that means you and I might be related…..It would be great to find family I didn’t know I had! Please contact me at daisyonthemountain@hotmail.com – I would love to talk!!!!
    Best,
    Chris

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