California Coupe

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Role Cabin biplane
National origin United States
Designer John G. Montijo, Lloyd Royer
First flight 7 May 1924
Status Crashed in 1925, sold as scrap.
Number built 1

The California Coupe, also called the Royer & Montijo California Coupe, was an early cabin biplane built in California.[1]

Design and development[edit]

In 1923 John G. Montijo collaborated with Lloyd Royer on a four passenger aircraft, the California Coupe, that would become the first cabin biplane on the United States west coast.[2] Montijo's design closely matched the Dayton-Wright OW.1 Aerial Coupe that he had recently purchased from the Rinehart-Whelan Company in Ohio.[3][4] The aircraft was originally ordered on request of wealthy Dodge dealer C.E. Bellows with the intent on using a Liberty engine for power.[5] While the California Coupe was under construction in the Kinner hangars, a client named Doc Young contracted Kinner to build a version for himself. The competing design, the Kinner Argonaut was built at the same time, with the goal to be completed before the California Coupe, with its first flight on 25 May 1924.[6]

The California Coupe was an enclosed biplane with conventional landing gear, fabric covered wings and very tall and narrow undercarriage that was built in a hangar rented from aircraft maker and engine producer Bert Kinner at Kinner Field. The Coupe, powered by a 200 hp (149.14 kW) Wright-Hisso V-8 engine,was constructed using Haskelite bonded plywood and had a 20 US gal (75.71 l) fuelheader tank in the upper mainplane, fed by a wind driven pump from a 20 US gal (75.71 l) main fuel tank under the cabin.

Operational history[edit]

A novelty in the early 1920s was to get married in an aircraft.[7] The California Coupe was used in an aerial wedding with its designer Montijo as the best man.[8] During a 1925 filming of "Partners Again"[9] one of the 'Potash and Perlmutter' series of films at Clover Field in Santa Monica, a vehicle performing a stunt ran headlong into the California Coupe ripping off the main gear and one wing, sending it into a brick wall.[10][11]


Montijo and Royer sued the film production company without success, so the California company was dissolved after the total loss of its major asset without compensation. Royer worked as a mechanic to pay off the rent owed to Kinner. Amelia Earhart, a close friend and employer of Royer, wrote to Royer asking him to keep some of the proceeds of the sale of her truck business after all the trouble he had with his aircraft venture.[12] Kinner later loaned Royer $350 in 1927 to start his new aircraft production business building the Waterhouse and Royer Cruisair, which also did not go into production, but the plans were sold and used as the basis of the Ryan M-1.[13] Montijo would go on to start another collaborative aircraft, the 1928 Warren & Montijo Monoplane.

Specifications (California Coupe)[edit]

Data from Grand Central Air Terminal

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 4 passengers / 1,290 lb (585.13 kg)
  • Wingspan: 40 ft (12 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,290 lb (585 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Wright-Hisso V-8 water-cooled piston engine, 200 hp (150 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 97 kn; 180 km/h (112 mph)
  • Stall speed: 42 kn; 77 km/h (48 mph)

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ Mary S. Lovell. The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart. 
  2. ^ John Underwood. Grand Central Air Terminal. p. 21. 
  3. ^ "Dayton-Wright OW-1 Aerial Coupe". Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Skyways: 60. January 2001.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Frank L. Warren (July 1998). Skyways: 5.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ John Underwood. Grand Central Air Terminal. p. 22. 
  7. ^ "Bellanca CF". Retrieved 18 November 2010. 
  8. ^ John Underwood. Grand Central Air Terminal. p. 20. 
  9. ^ Partners Again
  10. ^ "Woodall v. Wayne Steffner Productions". Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  11. ^ Reports of cases determined in the courts of appeal of the state of California, Volume 113. Bancroft-Whitney Company. 
  12. ^ Susan Butler. East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart. p. 119. 
  13. ^ John Underwood. Grand Central Air Terminal. p. 26. 

External links[edit]