Company History

Founded in 1991 and originally based in Salem, OH., Theiss Aviation, Inc. designed, built, and tested Light Homebuilt and Ultralight Aircraft for General Aviation. The company developed and refined an inexpensive, light-weight construction method that proved to be very strong and easy to work with for aircraft applications. As seen in the above picture, Theiss Aviation, Inc. was able to produce aircraft that resembled popular aircraft from the 1920's and 30's, but at a weight and performance level that classified them as Ultralights. Through numerous national and international magazine articles, Theiss Aviation, Inc. was exposed to all realms of aviation and their members.

"Speedster" taking off

"Speedster" on climb out

In 1998, The Head of the Tactical Electronic Warfare Division's Offboard Countermeasures Vehicle Research Section for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratories (Washington, D.C.) contacted Theiss Aviation, Inc. after reading one of the aforementioned magazine articles. The military was in need of light-weight, expendable Tactical UAVs, and Theiss Aviation seemed to have the solution! Within 90 days of the first meeting with NRL, Theiss Aviation delivered their first Tactical UAV. Named the Theiss "Tarzan" (Called Dakota II by the NRL), the UAV was jointly designed by NRL and Theiss Aviation, Inc.. Theiss Aviation performed all structural design and construction from "the ground up" utilizing the unique construction method. The Tarzan (version "A") was designed to disassemble for easy transport and storage, and boasted an 18 ft. wingspan with an empty weight of 65 lbs.; 5 pounds lighter than the requested maximum empty weight!

Theiss Aviation, Inc. was awarded a contract for an additional four aircraft to be used on shipboard. Because of the rugged requirements for shipboard use, the UAV underwent minor modifications to produce the Tarzan "B". This version involved using plywood skin over the entire aircraft as opposed to the lighter fabric covered "A" version. The aircraft also received heavy duty landing gears and a larger "Heavy-fuel" engine of 25 hp. But the most significant modification was the aircraft's ability to fold from an 18 ft. wingspan UAV into a 5.5' x 6.5' unit for transportation.

Tarzan "B" folded (left) and unfolded for flight (above)

Tarzan "Stress" test (above) and in flight (below)

Today, Theiss Aviation, Inc. is no longer involved in General Aviation, but instead has focused all efforts to supplying the Department of Defense with quality, inexpensive, high performance UAVs. Currently, Theiss Aviation, Inc. is working with several other entities on Target UAVs, V/STOL designs, Small Scale Tactical UAVs, and Man Portable UAVs.

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