09/30/2011. The General Western Aero Corporation Limited was founded by Albin Peterson and L.F. Vremsak at Burbank, California, USA, in 1929. Co-founder Peterson was the aircraft designer and the first aircraft built was an open-cockpit two-seat high-wing monoplane, powered by an 100 hp Kinner K-5 five-cylinder air-cooled radial engine. The aircraft first flew in 1930, however, it was lost during testing when it didn’t recover from a spin and pilot Al Lary had to bail out.
The history of this aircraft is a bit sketchy, reportedly it was named Bantam, subsequently Phantom, and later P-1 Meteor, the registration is reported as NX848E, and as NX188W. However, it is claimed that the FAA has no record of NX848E, while the registration is also reported as assigned to the Clark-Wood RKM-1 of 1929.
The company moved to Goleta Airport, 8 mls (13 km) west of Santa Barbara in 1931 and Peterson designed the two-seat P-2 Meteor, also powered by the 100 hp Kinner K-5. In all six were produced, c/n 101 to 106, registered respectively NX188W, NC958Y, NC12254, NC12260, NC12238, NC12294 (the latter three were designated P-2-S). NX188W was eventually modified to the P-2-T trainer.
In 1953 the sixth Meteor was converted to a crop-duster/seeder, the front cockpit was gutted and a large capacity tank fitted. As the additional weight increased from 675 to 800 lb (306 to 363) a 220 hp Continental replaced the original 100 hp Kinner K-5. The aircraft was reregistered to Elwood Hathaway of Willowbrook, California, USA in April 1954. However, shortly thereafter the aircraft crashed and burnt; on October 18, 1954 the registration was cancelled as "destroyed".
After producing the six P-2 Meteors General Western ran into financial difficulties and operations ceased. In 1935 the aircraft rights were taken over by the Air Transport Manufacturing Company of Glendale, California, Albin Peterson became Air Transports Vice President and Chief Engineer.
John Voss states: "My interest in P-2 Meteor is the fact that all six aircraft produced were welded together by my father D.H. 'Henry' Voss in the early 1930's. Here is a photo, taken at Goleta Airport in late 1931, with the General Western workforce in front of the Sikorsky S-38B NC21V, and the company building in the background. My father is standing fourth from the left (below arrow). Also as a point of interest, the rather interesting fellow standing third from the right (with feet crossed) is Samuel Hopkins, the same person pictured with Waco INF NC649Y in photo 7117.
A further point of interest, after General Western Aero Corporation went out of business my father heard of another aircraft company in Santa Monica, California that was looking for airframe welders. He drove down the 100 mls (161 km) south and was hired on immediately by its founder and owner… an individual by the name of Donald W. Douglas. This firm looked a bit more promising than General Western Aero so he stayed on for the next 42 years retiring as Director of Manufacturing."