Ryan PT-22 Recruit

The Ryan Recruit was the U.S. Army Air Corps’ first monoplane primary trainer. Initial testing of a single Ryan S-T-A (Sport-Trainer-A) resulted in an order for 15 more aircraft, re-designated the YPT-16, for evaluation in 1939.

Finding this tandem two-seater to be an excellent design, the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) ordered a production batch of 30 aircraft, designated the PT-20. In 1941, the Army decided a new more powerful engine was needed to endure the rigors of training new pilots. Ryan Aeronautical replaced the 125 H.P. Menasco C4 engine  with a 160 H.P. Kinner R-540-1 radial engine. The resulting PT-21 was so superior that many PT-16s and PT-20s were upgraded with the new engine, becoming PT-16As and PT-20As.

The Kinner engine’s unusual 5 cylinder configuration and relatively low operating RPM resulted in a distinctive engine sound – even when running at maximum power.  To many cadets, this sound was similar to mom’s new gasoline powered Maytag washing machine, back on the farm.  Thus, the Recruit became affectionately known as the “Maytag Messerschmitt”.

With flight training programs expanding across the United States, 1,023 more planes were ordered. These had the improved Kinner radial, no wheel spats, and the deletion of the main landing gear fairings. This became the PT-22. The Navy also ordered the Recruits and re-designated them as NR-1s, and the Netherlands ordered 25 Recruits and called them NR-3s. The Navy used these trainers until 1944, and the USAAC would retire the Recruit at the end of World War Two.

Today there are flying examples of each variant to be found across North America, the UK  and Australia.

The PT-22 before you, Construction Number 1683, was manufactured by Ryan Aeronautical Company in San Diego, California on January 7, 1942 and accepted by the U.S. Army Air Corps on January 30, 1942 at a cost of $9,098.00 ($128,651.00 in 2011 dollars).

Operational history of this aircraft:

  • Feb 8, 1942:       5th Army Air Force Flying Training Detachment, Ryan Field, Hemet, CA
  • Feb 9, 1944:       Sent to Pacific Aeromotive Corporation, Burbank, CA for overhaul
  • April 20, 1944:    Aircraft returned to 5th Army Air Force Flying Training  Detachment
  • June 30, 1944:   Sent to San Bernardino Air Service Center, CA for storage
    •   Aircraft Total Time: 2,168:20 hours
  • Sept 12, 1944:   Removed from storage
  • Oct 3, 1944:    Transferred to Reconstruction Finance Corporation,
    • Flown to Echeverria Field, Wickenburg, AZ.
    • Total military time approximately 2,177:45 hours
  • Feb 7, 1945:   Aircraft purchased from RFC by Hancock College of Aeronautics
  • 1945 – 2002  15 civilian owners
  • Dec 23, 2002  Purchased by current owner, Bob Roth of Fort Worth, Texas
    •    Total airframe time today: 3,069:5I hours

Specifications (PT-22):

  • Engine: One 160-hp Kinner R-540-1 five-cylinder radial engine
  • Weight: Empty 1,313 lbs.,
  • Max Takeoff 1,860 lbs.
  • Wing Span: 30 ft. 1 in.
  • Length: 22 ft. 5 in.
  • Height: 6 ft. 10 in


  • Maximum Speed: 131 mph
  • Ceiling: 15,000 ft.
  • Range: 352 miles
  • Number Built: 1025
  • Number Still Airworthy: 50+