The Morrisey Shinn Varga Kachina
By: Norm Goyer
I learned to fly in a tandem-seated Cub, and my small fleet of surplus military trainers were all tandem seated. In my opinion there is no better flying or fighting platform than one seated right on the center line of the aircraft. Then the pilots started taking their wives and girlfriends with them, and the complaining began, “I don’t like to sit by myself with no one to talk to,” and so on and so forth. Enter the world of side-by-side trainers. Other than a handful of homebuilt tandem aircraft, I can only think only of one tandem military-style trainer, and it was a good one. Yes, I am talking about the Morrisey, Shinn and Varga “Kachina”, all the same airplane with a different name and possibly a different engine. But, what a neat little airplane it is.
The airplane was born in 1946, when Bill Morrisey, ex CAA Inspector, ex Douglas Aircraft test pilot, designed a small “modern” trainer for homebuilders. It only had a 65-hp Continental for power. The elliptical wings and tail were made of wood, while the fuselage was fabric over welded steel tubing. Then, when problems of certification were considered, the wood wings and tail were changed to aluminum sheeting, and the aft fuselage was also redesigned to be fabricated from aluminum. The steel-tube front fuselage cage was retained for strength. The engine was increased to a 90-hp Continental, and the certification process was started. After a lengthy process, the Morrisey 2000G was granted an FAA certification. During the process, Lycoming had talked Morrisey into changing the 90-hp Continental for a 115-hp Lycoming. The modifications were almost done, when Lycoming pulled the plug on the 115-hp Lycoming and convinced Morrisey that their new 150-hp Lycoming would be a better power plant. Well it was, and it wasn’t, but the certification listed the 150 Lycoming as the power plant. The extra power did make a real performer out of the little 2000G, but flight school operators didn’t like to use so much fuel for their primary trainers. This model was called the Morrisey 2150 (2000 plus 150 equals 2150. Hey, it made sense to Bill Morrisey. This version was certified on June 24, 1958.
Morrisey eventually sold the rights to Shinn Engineering and they produced a few 2150S with minor changes. Shinn produced 35 of the 150-hp versions, when they decided to power back the plane to a 100-hp Continental, the same engine Cessna 150s were using. This move was made for the flight schools. Orders were increasing, but then Shinn obtained a huge government contract to build mail sorting devices for the Post Office Division. The small amount of money they were making with aircraft production was insignificant, so they sold the rights once again, after sitting on the design for five years.
The new owner, George Varga, was a very pleased Morrisey 2150 owner and a former military pilot. Starting in 1974 Varga built 100 Kachinas. Modern radios were installed and the interior was made more plush and comfortable. In 1981, the engine was changed to a 180-hp Lycoming, far more power than the little plane really needed. About this same time, a Kachina owner converted his plane to a tail dragger. Varga promptly bought the STC from Norm Hibbard, the owner of the STC. Money was getting in short supply once again. In 1986, Varga sold the rights to Jim Smith. Smith didn’t act on the design, and sold it in 1992, this time to Loren Perry of Augusta, Georgia. Our research yielded nothing more other than, at the time, Perry was looking to sell the rights, once again.
We did find several Kachinas for sale at $59,000, definitely a good buy, if the aircraft were in good condition. Whoever manufactured the plane, Morrisey, Shinn or Varga, it is a fine little sport aircraft that everyone loved, but too few bought.