Posts Tagged ‘Stearman’

Barnstormer sets off to grow general aviation

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Sarah Wilson will join with the B-29 bomber Fifi this summer on a national tour. Her goal is to use the original Stearman Speedmail that promoted a wildly successful radio show in the 1930s, “The Flying Adventures of Jimmie Allen,” to interest another generation of youth in aviation. The show, sponsored by an oil company, started a youth club called the Jimmie Allen Flying Club and attracted a million kids. Here’s a schedule of where she will appear. Chalres Lindbergh flew the 1929 Stearman on April 2, 1930 (scroll halfway down this Facebook page).

Want to help launch a graphic novel about a WWII-era crop duster in peril?

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Duster has a little bit of everything: a Stearman Kaydet, a tenacious lady crop duster, World War II baddies, and Texas. But before you can order a copy, it needs some financial help.

The 215-page book takes place in the closing days of World War II. A widowed housewife-turned-crop-duster struggles to rescue her daughter from a band of war criminals who crash near her small Texas farm.

Duster’s writers and artists have put the project on Kickstarter, which is an online funding platform for creative projects. In other words, they’re looking for people who would like to back the book–become “early adopters”–and help fund the creation of the art that they want to see. The campaign launched June 18 and needs to raise $26,000. As of today, 277 backers had kicked in a total of $18,433. The campaign closes on July 24. You can download a free 40-page preview of the book, including the first part of the air battle between Joanna Kent in her Stearman Kaydet and a Luftwaffe Junkers Ju-290. If you choose to back the project, the creators are offering a number of incentives (not unlike the public television pledge drives) based on the amount you contribute.

Duster’s writers are Micah Wright, creator of the Wildstorm Comics series Stormwatch: Team Achilles; and Jay Lender, writer and director of animated television shows SpongeBob SquarePants and Phineas and Ferb. The artists are Jok Coglitore (rough layouts) and Cristian Mallea (pencils and inks).

Since you don’t come across a lady crop duster very often in fiction, I asked Wright whether he’s a pilot. He’s not, but the character of Joanna Kent is loosely based on his grandmother, who was a cotton farmer’s wife in West Texas during World War II. “The pilot aspect of Jo was inspired by real-life aviation pioneers like Jackie Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love, the two commanders of the Women Airforce Service Pilots,” he said. “Although this isn’t a story about the WASP, Jo was definitely informed by the struggles those real female pilots went through in a very rigidly gender-defined world.”—By Jill W. Tallman

Barnstormers storming to the Midwest this year

Friday, April 13th, 2012

If you can get to North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Illinois this summer, you’ll have a chance to drink in some mighty nice antique aircraft and hang out with the folks who fly them. The American Barnstormers Old-Fashioned Tour is making its every-other-year appearance in August. Weather permitting, you’ll see 14 aircraft and their costumed pilots, and even purchase a ride.

The airplanes will swoop into five cities this year. Pilot and PR coordinator Sarah Wilson says the tour has been scaled back just a bit from previous years (when it debuted in 2006, there were 15 biplanes and they toured nine cities).

“We just weren’t sure we could do it this year,” she says. Pilots come from all over the nation–in airplanes that average speeds 100 mph or less–to form the tour. But the “core group”–those pilots who have participated from the beginning–said, “Please, let’s do another one,” Wilson says. The pilots will remain three days at each stop, giving them more time between legs.

Here’s the schedule:

New to the tour this year are Wilson’s 1929 Stearman Model 4E; a 1937 Waco YKS-7, and a Curtiss Pusher.

My colleagues Al Marsh and Mike Fizer joined the group for their inaugural tour in 2006. (You can see the article, video, and photos here.) Al recalls without the least bit of nostalgia the heat wave that ensnared Michigan that July. With temps reaching 105, he wondered how the tour pilots handled it in their heavy costumes.

Still. Flying with biplane pilots on a tour of the heartland? Steven Tyler, you can keep your Rock ‘n’ Roll fantasy camp. This one’s more my speed.

Historic Tuskegee Stearman makes final flight

Monday, August 8th, 2011

After arriving at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the Stearman gets an engine swap.

Matt Quy, right, helps pull the Stearman's engine.

Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport on Friday would have seen this: the first half of an engine swap on the Spirit of Tuskegee, a PT-13 Stearman biplane conveyed to the Smithsonian by Matt and Tina Quy. After buying the airplane as a wreck, they discovered that it had been used in 1944 and 1945 to train Tuskegee Airmen at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Ala. Since its restoration was completed, they’ve been using the airplane to honor the airmen; a number have flown in the airplane and dozens have signed the inside of its baggage hatch.

The Spirit of Tuskegee flies over refurbished World War II hangars at Moton Field, Ala.

The Spirit of Tuskegee over Moton Field, Ala.

Less than a week earlier, Quy took the plane to Moton Field in Tuskegee, revisiting its first duty assignment after being built by Boeing in 1944. His passengers included Leroy Eley of Atlanta, an 84-year-old Tuskegee Airman who drove to Tuskegee to see the historic aircraft.

Matt Quy flies the Spirit of Tuskegee over the Alabama countryside.

Matt Quy pilots the Spirit of Tuskegee.

For the past month, Quy–a captain in the U.S. Air Force–has been making his way to Washington with the airplane. On the trip his stops included the Air Force Academy in Colorado; EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh; Moton Field in Tuskegee, Ala.; and Andrews Air Force Base, the latter for the 7oth anniversary reunion of the Tuskegee Airmen. Quy discussed the airplane and his journey with AOPA Live during AirVenture. Dik Daso, a National Air and Space Museum curator, accompanied Quy on the flight from Tuskegee to Washington, and blogged about the experience.

The Spirit of Tuskegee flies past an Alabama sunset.

The Stearman punctuates an Alabama sunset.

The Spirit of Tuskegee made its last flight on Friday, Aug. 5, when the Quys flew it to Washington Dulles International and taxied to the Udvar-Hazy Center. Even then, however, the airplane continued to make history: It’s the first artifact to be worked on in the museum’s new Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, a just-opened, 235,000-square-foot facility where visitors can watch restoration projects from elevated viewing areas. Among other details, Quy and the Smithsonian crew are swapping engines and brakes on the airplane, to return it as closely as possible to its original appearance.

The Spirit of Tuskegee will be displayed temporarily at Udvar-Hazy; in 2015, it will move to the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in downtown Washington, D.C. It will be the only aircraft displayed in the museum. Look for a story on this historic airplane in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot.