Wednesday, August 30th saw the unofficial beginning of this year’s National Stearman Fly-In, when George Triche eased his yellow Stearman onto the runway at Galesburg Municipal Airport.  By the following Wednesday there were over 100 Stearmans registered at the Fly-In.  The official count shows that by Saturday evening 138 Stearman pilots had settled their aircraft onto the grass parking areas at Galesburg, despite poor weather conditions to the east early in the week and over much of the Midwest on Saturday morning.  Only the 1996, 25th National Stearman Fly-In had seen a larger attendance, with 141.  What a great turn out!

Overcast skies and marginal VFR visibilities early in the day slowed the arrival rate on Monday, but by evening cooler air had moved in from the north raising both visibility and wind velocity.  Monday evening’s Director’s Picnic had one of the best turnouts ever. 

Tuesday dawned with almost perfect Stearman weather and prompted a full day of flying and a number of new arrivals.  The activity schedule was light on Tuesday, leaving the day open for fun flying, visiting and just enjoying the atmosphere and camaraderie.  Dinner on your own was the plan for Tuesday evening and a number of Galesburg restaurants were booked to capacity.  Groups of Stearman pilots made their way downtown after a full day of flying to enjoy the Midwest cooking, each other’s company and talk about what was yet to come, during the week.

Wednesday saw the first of a number of technical seminars that proved to be very popular throughout the week.  The “fly-out” lunch to Kewanee was a sell-out.  The hospitality of the citizens of Kewanee and a great pork sandwich lunch proved to be as popular as ever.  It was also a busy day for Dennis Little and his parking crew, as a steady stream of new arrivals continued throughout the day.  Dennis, following in George Cox’s footsteps, once again did an outstanding job of planning and organizing the parking areas for the Fly-In.  An orderly flow in and out of parking kept things moving safely, all week long.  Wednesday evening Stearman people visited with old friends and met new ones at a cocktail party hosted by Pete Jones and Air Repair.  As the overflow crowd spilled out of a large banquet room at Jumer’s Castle Lodge, wind-burned faces, brushed with eager smiles were plentiful.  Enthusiasm was clearly building.

Thursday afternoon’s Aledo Corn Boil proved to be the popular event that it has been for so many years.  Despite some tricky winds the parking area at Aledo was filled to capacity with big, brightly colored biplanes.  Thursday evening brought both a pizza party, sponsored by the SRA and a “USO Show” in downtown Galesburg.  This was the third year for these two events and the turn out was more than expected, for both.  As in years past, the pizza was delicious and the party left just enough time for Stearman pilots to do a little visiting before dashing in to town to see the show.  The USO Show is another great example of the hospitality of the citizens of Galesburg and how they work to make this event their own.  The Show filled the Orpheum Theatre to capacity with Stearman pilots, their friends and families and local citizens alike.  The show was put on by an all-volunteer cast and was outstanding.  If you have not seen the USO show, make plans to go next year.

Friday was a busy day, if you were inclined to stay busy.  The Wolford family sponsored lunch.  There were the flying contests, formation flying practice and seminars.  Bob Matthews did his usual sterling job of organizing a safe and fun aerobatic contest.  As always, there was just plain old fun flying, story telling and sitting under the wing.  Once again Dennis Little’s parking crew and the volunteers in the office stayed busy parking, registering and attending to the needs of Stearman pilots.

Friday evening’s “Luau” and pig roast was a first, with very positive feedback from the Stearman pilots that attended.  Tony Farhat handed out door prizes, as he has done for a number of years.  Stearman pilots and friends were able to enjoy their “extended family”, while sharing a great meal provided by Thrushwood Farms, with very little other distraction.  Steak and Shake on Henderson street was the “place to be” afterwards.

Wisps of gray cloud crept across the Galesburg airport on Saturday morning giving the field an eerie appearance.  Mist, tossed about by stiff breezes cemented the realization that the dawn patrol, probably the Fly-Ins most popular event, would have to wait another year.  What did they do with all of that pancake batter in Canton?  The weather was not really flyable until later in the morning, but did clear up nicely in the afternoon and allow the formation contest to take place.  Gusty winds and afternoon thermals make the air quite rough, as four teams battled in this year’s contest.  The Michigan Stearman/Chrome Zephyrs composite squadron took top honors.  As has always been the tradition, the Fly-in culminated with the Saturday evening dinner and awards banquet.  Following another great buffet dinner, awards were presented, appreciations were expressed, and the volunteers and so many others who gave so much were recognized, all with the usual good-natured sense of humor.

Saturday morning was the annual meeting of the Stearman Restorers Association.  A review of the years activities and a current financial report were presented.  The existing Officers and Directors were elected by acclamation for the year 2001.

By mid-morning on Sunday most cockpit covers were stowed, props pulled through and engines warmed.  Several eastbound Stearmans had made the decision to leave on Saturday, after seeing the weather forecast.  Most of the rest took wing on Sunday and headed for home, leaving behind the legacy of one of the best Stearman Fly-Ins ever.  As we eased our way through the cool autumn afternoon air, I wondered how we could make the thirtieth National Stearman Fly-In even better.  I am sure that we can.  It is the Stearman pilots and owners that make this such a great event.

If you have any thoughts, or suggestions about the Fly-In please contact me at the numbers below.  Make plans now to a join us next year.  The dates have already been set, Monday September 3rd (Labor Day), through Sunday, September 9th, 2001.  Happy flying! 

John Lohmar

President, National Stearman Fly-In

12 Quiet Brook Ct.

St. Charles, MO 63303

(636)947-7278 – Home

HeritageAir@Compuserve.com 

Stearman Judging

Authenticity and Craftsmanship

Multiple awards in any category are considered equal

Kadet (U.S. Army Air corps)

  • Ray Coker  N57950

Yellow Peril (U.S.  Navy)

  • Larry Tobin  N6848
  • Chuck Andreas  N62410
  • Jerry Maclin  N1327M

Brush and Canvass (Custom)

  • David Waller  N54941
  • Bill Cantrell   N77ED
  • Bob Terhune  N67823
  • John Canon   N 59901      

Special Awards 

  • First Arrival George Triche
  • Longest Distance Richard Shultz Navato, CA 1975 Miles
  • Youngest Pilot—David  Funk 9/9/84
  • Oldest Pilot—Art Francis 6/28/21

Flying Awards

Short Field T/O 300 HP and over

  • 1st—Gary Irwin 210 ft.
  • 2nd—Cliff Robinson 220 ft.
  • 3rd—Norman Smith  230 ft.

         Short Field T/O Stock Engines

  • 1st Bill Bors
  • 2nd Joe Szymanowiez
  • 3rd Dan O’Connor

Accuracy Landings

  • 1st  George Pascal
  • 2nd Larry Barrett
  • 3rd Dan O’Connor

Flour Bombing

  • 1st Scott Marshall (Pilot)  11 ft     

Aaron Marshall Bmbdr

  • 2nd Bob Shea (Pilot)  33 ft.                            

Peggy Shea Bombdr

  • 3rd  Larry Barrett  33.5 ft

 Formation

  • 1st Michigan Zephers
  • 2nd Illinois Greyhawks
  • 3rd Louisiana Boys

Aerobatics 

  • 1st Cliff Robinson
  • 2nd Terry Middaugh
  • 3rd Glen Winter

Five participants took part in this years Aerobatic Contest, and at least 20 Stearmans showed up as spectators to watch the event under sunny skies and calm winds. It is held each year, 27 miles North West of Galesburg at the Mercer County airport in Aledo, Illinois.

 The contestant chooses five maneuvers he would like to perform, then lists them on an entry form in the order they will be performed.  Each maneuver is performed and judged individually so they can do their best on each. 

Contestants are also judged on difficulty.  A loop must be round, not an egg, and won’t gain as many points as say, a four point roll. A slow roll must not lose any altitude and will gain more points than a simple hammer head, and so on.