We have owned this plane since 1977. In 1996 we started a ground up restoration. In 1999 it won outstanding WW II trainer at Oshkosh and the Brush and Canvass award at Galesburg.
Fifteen Seconds of Fame
If you watched the Olympics you may have caught a glimpse of our Stearman over flying the Wasatch Mountains during some of the scenic shots that appeared as filler throughout NBC¹s presentation of the games.
It started with a phone call from helo pilot and aerial coordinator Dan Rudert on Feb 5. He was working with an outfit called Aerial Camera Systems whom NBC had commissioned to do some scenic shots of the area. They wanted to shoot a biplane and had been asking around our local airport (Heber Valley, Utah) for any one with a two winger willing to do it. Our name came up, and needless to say they didn¹t have to ask twice. The idea of flying for the Olympics and seeing our plane on national TV over such a grand setting was irresistible. Could I be ready the next day as all sorts of TFR¹s and a 45 mile no fly circle around SLC would go into effect the following day? Of-course!
Feb 6 dawned bright and sunny. It was a picture perfect blue bird Utah winter day. Trouble was the temp was in the teens and forecast to get no warmer. No matter, we were flying for the Olympics. The helo was due to arrive and we were scheduled to brief at 1400. At 1300 we rolled the plane out of its heated hangar and started her up. It was 17 degrees. Forty five minutes later the oil temp made it to 35 degrees. I shut it down and pushed it back in the hangar. The crew arrived about 30 minutes late but we still had plenty of daylight left. The brief was to join with the helo, fly over the nearby mountains and do some ridge running shots. Dan said it should only take about 15 minutes, but we knew it would be at least an hour. We had worked with film people before.
My wife Myra ( she wouldn¹t miss this one for the world ) and I donned our cold wx gear consisting of thermal underwear, fleece vests, snowmobile suits, thermal socks, boots, fleece lined leather gloves and leather helmets. It took another 20 minutes to get the oil back up to an acceptable take off temp but we were so excited we didn¹t even notice the cold. The helo was hovering at midfield as we took off and we joined on his right side where the camera is mounted. It is gyro stabilized, incredibly high resolution and took great pictures. We climbed to about 10,000 feet (the airport is 5620) to top the nearby ridges, thankful for the 300 Lyc and the constant speed prop. The air was perfectly still as we made a series of flybys in the canyons and over the ridges. What fun!
Dan is an experienced director and had the ability to exactly describe what he wanted. This is not easy, especially over the radio. It made my job a walk in the park. Almost an hour later we banked towards the airport and landed. We stripped off a few layers, and walked over to the helo tosee the instant replay. It looked good!
The results appeared several times during the two weeks of the Olympics and if we do say so ourselves, the Stearman was a great addition. We have had calls from all over the country including one from Tom Lowe, past president
of SRA, suggesting that we write this piece. Having the Olympics in our home town of Park City has been a wonderful experience. We are proud and honored to have been a part of them.