Downey’s entry into the then young aviation industry came in 1929 when E.M. Smith, a wealthy industrialist, organized the EMSCO Aircraft Corporation at the Downey site to manufacture a complete line of land and water aircraft.
On purchased farm land (at that time largely supporting orange groves and crops of castor beans) EMSCO built a modern 60,000 square foot manufacturing facility with an adjoining private airport.
A 1929 EMSCO brochure described the four models of the EMSCO line of aircraft:
– EMSCO Challenger, a super-powered, eight place, cabin monoplane using three 170 horsepower Curtiss Challenger motors.
– EMSCO B-3, an eight-place cabin monoplane powered with a single Pratt & Whitney Wasp or a Wright Whirlwind J-6 motor of 300 horsepower.
– EMSCO Cirrus, a two-place mid-wing monoplane for sport and training, powered with a 90 horsepower, four-cylinder in line, air-cooled American Cirrus motor.
– EMSCO Amphibian, a bi-motored cabin with accommodations for five passengers and a pilot.
However, with business growth retarded significantly by the economic conditions of the Depression, in 1931 EMSCO leased the Downey plant to Champion Aircraft Corporation of America. Unfortunately economic conditions being no kinder to Champion, within seven months they packed up and left the site, as well.
In 1933, Walter Kinner, who had designed and manufactured two airplanes for Amelia Earhart, brought his Security National Aircraft Corporation to Downey. Kinner’s ambition was to develop a small, reasonably priced plane that could be mass marketed. His patented design was the “folding wing,” an aircraft with side-by-side seating and wings that folded up so that the plane could fit into a large garage. However only three of the original folding-wing aircraft were ever built, and their manufacture at the Downey plant ceased within the year.