In August of 2001. I landed my 1947 Cessna 140 at the Hawthorne-Feather Airport to refuel before continuing to my home airport at Brookline, NH. I was returning from spending a day in Stowe, VT. exploring small airfields located nearby the Green Mountains with friends, when I saw John Stahl (SRA 3611) pulling his newly restored Stearman from the hangar. He’d bought it just the year before from John Mohr (SRA 275) in Minnesota and she glistened in the summer sun.
John offered me a ride. It was a beautiful summer evening to enjoy my first exposure to open cockpit bi-plane flying and by the time we returned, I was already composing my “For sale” ad for my faithful old 140.
After much research, joining the SRA and with a lot of guidance from John Stahl and later from “Capt Pete” (Pete Chestnut, SRA 156) I purchased my PT-17 from Jack Mitchard (SRA 1524) at Beaver County Airport in Pennsylvania. With the help of Dave
Messersmith, we brought my new airplane home where my education really started.
I had a lot of tailwheel experience going into this, but I must admit, it took me a while to figure this out. I’m certainly not in a position to start offering others advice in this area, but, for other neophytes considering purchasing a Stearman, I’d strongly advise joining the SRA and “studying” the Forum. Also, search through the membership roster, locate someone living nearby and seek them out. We enjoy giving rides in our Stearmans and sharing our knowledge. I’ve been flying airplanes for a long time and my Stearman has rejuvenated my excitement in flight.
Now in the evenings, when John and I pull the Stearmans out of the hangar, we generally attract a small crowd to the field. Most don’t have an aviation background but recognize pieces of history, as well as things of beauty.