North American / Ryan L-17A Navion, N215NY

  • Capacity: four
  • Length: 27 feet 4 inches
  • Maximum speed: 163 mph
  • Cruise speed: 150 mph
  • Range: 700 miles
  • Service ceiling: 11,000 feet

The U.S. military used the L-17 Navion from the late 1940s through the early 1960s for liaison, reconnaissance, light cargo carrying, and forward air control missions. Initially developed for the general aviation market, the aircraft was first flown in 1946 as the NA-154 Navion.

The U.S. Army Air Forces ordered 83 military versions under the designation L-17A. Ryan Aeronautical Co. later bought the design and manufacturing rights from North American and built 164 improved L-17B Navions for the U.S. Air Force. Navion production ended in 1949.

Civil Air Patrol acquired and flew several Navions in the1960s. Col. Kevin Berry, former Pennsylvania Wing commander and now the wing’s government relations officer, received his first orientation flight in N215NY as a young cadet in the New York Wing’s TAK Composite Squadron in 1969 .

Berry recalls being very excited to get in the plane and fly after he and his dad made the drive to Buffalo Airpark, now Buffalo Airfield. The pilot, who had piloted bombers during World War II, was at home in the cockpit of the Navion.

After perusing his old photos, Berry reflected, “I’m reminded he wore a military leather flight jacket and 50-mission hat a World War II Army officer’s brimmed cap which had been crushed down from wearing headphones over it when aloft.

“He and other ex-military pilots who’d flown in WWII and the Korean war piloted my first and subsequent O-flights. They were all added to my list of heroes!” Berry said

“That flight helped foster my interest in private aviation, which led to my obtaining a private pilot license in the early ’80s and rejoining CAP to share my love of aviation with others and put those skills to use on our missions.”

Maj. Ron Finger is a freelance illustrator and member of the Minnesota Wing’s Crow Wing Composite Squadron. Recently honored by the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame as Artist of the Year, he is an Air Force Art Program artist, where a select pool of artists are assigned “art missions” to document specific U.S. Air Force operations. 

Among his duties as Civil Air Patrol’s national artist, Finger researches and creates art that portrays our historical emergency service. A personal goal is to complete paintings documenting every aircraft type CAP has flown. 

This is the 14th painting in Finger’s second series of depictions of vintage CAP aircraft. More of Finger’s CAP artwork can be seen at

Silvered Wings No. 1  Fleetwings Sea Bird F-401
Silvered Wings No. 2  Curtiss-Wright 15-D Sedan
Silvered Wings No. 3  Rearwin Sportster 7000
Silvered Wings No. 4  Cessna U-3B “Blue Canoe”
Silvered Wings No. 5  Aeronca C-3 (1932)
Silvered Wings No. 6  Rearwin Sportster 900-L
Silvered Wings No. 7 Travel Air C-4000
Silvered Wings No. 8  Kinner “Sportster B”
Silvered Wings No. 9  Boeing Model 40-A/B
Silvered Wings No. 10  Brunner-Winkle “Bird,” BK (1929)
Silvered Wings No. 11 Meyers OTW-125 “Out-To-Win”
Silvered Wings No. 12 — Cessna 0-1/L-19 Bird Dog
Silvered Wings No. 13 Monocoupe 90A