Where do I begin? Well, let’s start at the beginning. I grew up an “airport brat”. My Dad had a J-5 Cub which I spent my young life in. I was always at one of the local airports. My Dad was really involved – if it wasn’t the CAP, it was at the Airshow. In the 60’s, an Airshow was an Airshow! I met some very interesting people: Red “Batman” Grant, parachutist extraordinaire. Another one of my favorites was Harold Krier. My job after the show was to wipe down the Great Lakes to get all the smoke off. Bill Sweet was my pal. I loved biplanes – there was always a Stearman on the strip. But, being a duster, that front seat was a hopper with no room for me. So, I never got that ride I was dying for. I loved that Stearman! As I grew up, most of my buddies were flyers. I was always buzzing around in something, but not in an open cockpit biplane.
By the time I was in my 20’s, my interests were mostly high performance sports cars. But these classic airplanes were always in the back of my mind. Since I was a confirmed motor head, I decided I had to have a round engine, just to restore, as a conversation piece only.
I found one in Vermont, about a 4 hour drive from Maine. It was a Jacobs R-755. When I went to pick it up, the owner said “Hey want to see the Stearman? It’s just up the street, walking distance.” I had driven all that way so I thought “what the heck-why not?” Well, when that door opened and that Stearman was in front of me, THAT WAS IT! SNAKEBIT! All those old memories flashed back before me. I had to have it. The rest is history.
Here is my Stearman… a 1943 N2S- 5. Talk about love! There’s no way to describe it to anyone. I have often heard of a restoration as a “labor of love”. It’s more than that. It’s an obsession! This Stearman was a skeleton when it arrived here. My friends were shaking their heads again. I had heard this kind of thing before. But hey, look at it now! Even my FAA Inspector thought I had my hands full. After I had the covering of the fuselage done, he inspected it. No problems! We were pals by now. He liked my fabric work. Since this Stearman was also a duster, there was lots of work here and there. Replacing corroded metal was one task. The fuselage was cleaned and primed with epoxy primer and re-oiled. I had to find a lot of tin for this. Almost all the covers were This is the biggest puzzle of my life so far. It has a good set of high lift duster wings. But, I just have to have a set of original wings. My paint scheme is right out of the 60’s Airshow style. Now, all I need is wings. Have plenty of Jacobs parts for the rebuild. My FAA mechanic is going to let me get involved.
This is my Bucket List. It consists of only one thing… I just want to fly this. I’m not blowing my own horn or anything, but I have done all this work with only one hand! Restored, assembled and painted by me.