Donald Arthur Luscombe (May 25, 1895 – January 10, 1965) was an American businessman and entrepreneur. He is best known as the founder of Luscombe Aircraft, which produced an advanced sheet-metal-fuselage light aircraft during the 1930-1950 time period in the US.
Luscombe was born on May 25, 1895, in Iowa City, Iowa to parents James L. Luscombe and Minnie E. Hartle.
When the US entered World War I Luscombe volunteered for duty in France, where he served as an ambulance driver. He received a citation for valor for this service.
After returning home, Luscombe married. He and his wife had a girl on 9 February 1922, but she died 19 days later (28 February 1922). He and his wife Eleanor had a second child, a boy named James True Luscombe, who was born on 4 August 1927. James True Luscombe, founder of Luscombe Engineering Company (1954-present), died May 8, 1984 and is survived by James H. Luscombe, Kelly A. Luscombe, Elizabeth S. Luscombe and Patricia J. Luscombe.
Luscombe died in January 1965. He was buried in the Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City, Iowa.
While in France, Luscombe received his first aeroplane ride, in a French Voisin III. After returning to the US he launched a career in advertising in Davenport, Iowa, and purchased a Curtiss JN-4, which he learned to fly. The Jenny’s open cockpit and tandem seating arrangement caused Luscombe to envision an improved arrangement, with enclosed cockpit and side-by-side seating.
To further the idea, Luscombe talked several business associates into joining with him to form the Central States Aero Company, Inc. They hired Clayton Folkerts, a young Iowa farmer, to design and build the aircraft, which they called Monocoupe; the first example emerged in 1927—a cheap, light, quick, efficient, comfortable two-seater—and was the beginning of a radical change in personal aviation in the United States, the small, enclosed-cockpit “personal” light plane, well-suited for comfortable cross-country travel.
In 1928, Luscombe published his first book, Simplified Flying.
In 1933 Luscombe left the Monocoupe business (owned by Lambert Aircraft Corporation at the time) and moved to Kansas City, Missouri to found another company, Luscombe Airplane Development Corporation building all-metal monocoque fuselage aircraft. The company resumed production of light aircraft when World War II ended, but a glut of surplus aircraft caused his company to fail. Its assets were bought by Temco, but Luscombe did not remain in the business.