The Aeronca Aircraft Corporation was founded November 11, 1928 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Backed by the financial and political support of the prominent Taft family and future Ohio senator Robert A. Taft who was one of the firm's directors, Aeronca became the first company to build a commercially successful general aviationaircraft. When production ended in 1951, Aeronca had sold 17,408 aircraft in 55 models.
In 1937 there was a major flood at the Lunken Airport, resulting in the entire airport area being washed away. Aeronca's factory was destroyed, along with the tooling and almost all of the very early blueprints and drawings. At this time a decision was made to move the operation to a more stable area. Middletown, Ohio was chosen, and the company has remained there ever since. All of the airplanes produced from the start of production in 1929 to 1937 are known as the "Lunken" Aeroncas. The first Aeronca built in Middletown was produced on June 5, 1940, and after this time all Aeroncas were built here.
The Defender, a tandem trainer version of the Chief with a higher rear seat, was used in training many of the pilots who flew in World War II. Several observation and liaison aircraft designs were also produced during and after the war, including the L-3, L-16 and O-58.
In 1945, following the end of World War II, Aeronca returned to civilian production with two new models, the 7AC Champion and the 11AC Chief. While the Champ shared its tandem seating arrangement with the prewar tandem trainer and the Chief shared its name with the prewar Chief designs, both were new designs. A benefit of the concurrent development was that the new designs had about 80% of their parts in common. Nevertheless, the Champ was favored by the public, evidenced by its outselling its sibling at a rate of 4 to 1. Between 1945 and 1951, nearly 8,000 Champions were manufactured; while over the same period, approximately 2,000 Chiefs were produced.
In 1978 Aeronca planned to start aircraft production again with production of a prototype Foxjet ST600. The project was eventually cancelled due to lack of WR-44 engine availability. Aeronca now builds components for aerospace companies including Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed and Airbus. In its 23-year history as a general aviation and military aviation manufacturer, Aeronca produced 17,408 aircraft spanning 55 different models.