His enthusiasm for building his biplane (like Tom Sawyer's fence) attracted friends and helpers. It was a time when the country was in deep economic depression; work was scarce. Opportunities and channels for creativity were meager. Many people found a chance to work in aviation with, and through, Al Meyers, some made it their lifetime work (Ray Betzoldt, Pard Beaumont Diver, Otto Meier).
Al, with the energy and self-confidence of youth, planned for the building, testing, and certification of his biplane in three years. The first test flight at the old Wayne County Airport was, in fact, well-documented by the Detroit News of May 10, 1936. After nine hours of testing time, he heard that his mother had been severely burned in a fire, in their farm home, in Middleburg, New York. Without hesitation, he took off in his newly tested plane from Michigan to New York to be quickly by her side. Plane and patient made it through the grueling test.
The OTW is a two -place biplane, with an oval shaped, all aluminum monocoque fuselage. The tail surfaces are made of aluminum. Both wings of equal span are wooden construction and fabric covered. The wing area is approximately 262 square feet, with a low wing loading of 6.5 pounds per square foot. The wide landing gear with its long struts and big tires, easily absorbs a student type of landing. The large number of bulkheads give the plane added strength, but no additional weight. This is why the OTW biplane makes a superior type of aerobatics trainer, rather than the conventional "barnstormer" of its time.
In 1939, the Meyers OTW received an Approved Type Certificate. CAA (ATC #736). It was also the first of two airplanes approved for the Civilian Pilot Training Program prior to World War II. Orders began to pour in from all over the country even before manufacture was started. Later it was one of two planes designated for aerobatic training in the military.
A group of Tecumseh, Michigan citizens and pilots especially Dr. Hammel, invited Al Meyers to relocate in the town. The plan was that he commence manufacturing the OTW airplane. He was encouraged by the promise that he would be given tax considerations until he became established. Furthermore, he had obtained a military contract to manufacture the OTW. More than 100 OTW's were manufactured. Most of the planes were used as World War II trainers. One of the largest training fields was in Minden, Nevada, elevation 5,000 feet. The earliest models were powered with 125 HP or 145 HP Warner "Scarab" engines. The later models were the 160 HP Kinner R-56 engine.
The reputation the OTW earned as an excellent aerobatic airplane makes it very much in demand today by antique buffs. At the present time more than 60 have been restored and are still flying. The Meyers OTW Club, a division of the Antique Airplane Association, makes frequent visits to the Al Meyers Airport to this day. Ev Payette, a photographer in Monroe, Michigan, is the club historian, and has the best collection of Meyers aircraft pictures.
Al Meyers Airport - History