The Aeronca C-2 is a small aircraft with a unique and unusual design that earned it the nickname “The Flying Bathtub”. It was powered by a small two-cylinder engine and made its first flight in October 1929, with its public debut in February 1930. Despite its basic features, the C-2 was priced at a low cost of $1,555, making it affordable for private citizens and helping to popularize private aviation in the United States during the Great Depression.
Equipped with only four instruments, a stick, and rudder pedals, the C-2 was a simple and economical aircraft. It was also the first aircraft to be refueled from a moving automobile, with a can of gasoline handed up from a speeding car to a C-2 pilot during an air show in California in 1930.
A seaplane version of the C-2 was also available, known as the PC-2 and PC-3, which had floats instead of wheels for landing on water. One C-2 was even converted into a glider by removing the engine and nose fairing, which flew for the first time as a glider in 1937 but was unfortunately destroyed during a storm in 1938.
The Aeronca C-3 was based on the Aeronca C-2 and was introduced in 1931, featuring an additional passenger seat beside the pilot. The C-3 was powered by a new 36 hp Aeronca E-113 engine, which made flight training more accessible due to its predictable flight characteristics. The C-3 was known for its gentle landing speeds and ability to glide, leading it to be described as a “powered glider”. In 1935, the design was changed with the introduction of the C-3 Master, featuring an enclosed cabin and improved aerodynamics. The C-3 Master was very affordable at only $1,895 and generated significant sales, with 128 being built in 1935 alone. Production of the C-3 ceased in 1937 due to changes in government airworthiness regulations. However, existing planes were permitted to continue flying under a “grandfather” clause.