On November 12, 1929, Keith Scott placed his verbal order for a Stearman Model 4E biplane . With the options , including a reserve fuel tank, retracting landing lights, dual flare tubes for night landing flares, radio, wheel pants, and a “relief tube”, the final delivery price was $18,107 . 50 – quite a hefty sum of money for 1929. But the investment was certainly worth it. Lloyd Stearman referred to her as the finest airplane he built. It was faster than the military pursuit planes, faster than the mail planes of the day . It was also larger than most bi-planes, seating one pilot in the rear and two passengers in the big front cockpit.
Of the 40 model 4 Stearmans built , only 11 were 4Es. The 4E substituted a 450 horsepower engine for the normal 300 or less horsepower. This earned it the nickname of the “Bull Stearman. “ That gave it the range to fly nonstop from Reno to Los Angeles, the brute power to climb out of Reno straight west without circling. It was definitely the “Cadillac” of executive aircraft of the 1930s.
The “Bull” took its place in the Scott Motor Co. fleet, joining at various times an older Stearman , a Fokker FlO Tri Motor, and a Ford “Tin Goose” Tri Motor. Of the four airplanes two were eventually destroyed in accidents and one dismantled. Only the “Bull” remains.
In 1930 Keith was flying the “Bull” Stearman and driving a 1926 Pierce Arrow. He never sold the Pierce, but in 1942 sold the Stearman. In those years civilians could not fly in the Coastal Defense Zone, so Keith sold his airplane and joined Douglas Aircraft as a test pilot . He flew the famous C47 (DC-3), C54 (DC-4) and A20, a high performance twin engine attack bomber, and others.
The old “Bull” became a crop duster , then was left to dissipate in place. From 1968 to 1970 it was restored by well known antiquer Robert Penny, Jr . , with the help of Ansel Smith , the mechanic who cared for it from 1930 to 1942 . The restored airplanes’s first flight was witnessed by Lloyd Stearman. In the next two years the “ Bull” won “ Grand Champion” at the three major west coast antique shows.
In 1972 the “Bull” was purchased by Dan Wine, a United Air Lines Captain in Denver, Colorado. Dan continued to lavish loving care and further restoration on the old airplane . As the only 4E flying, the “Bull” attracted a lot of attention. Years later an old friend sent Keith Scott a newspaper article about the plane, and that led to contact with Dan Wine. Eventually Dan came to Reno and negotiations began in earnest. On October 17, 1985, Dan flew the Stearman to Reno. His last entry in the logbook was “Battle Mountain to Reno. Returned to original owner, Wm . Keith Scott .
Welcome home!” The first passenger upon returning to Reno was of course Keith Scott. Perhaps, at 81, he was taking his first ride as a passenger.
It was obviously very hard for Dan to part with his pet, even to a good home . As part of the deal Dan obtained visitation rights, the status of “consultant pilot” and the promise that not a nut will be turned without his advice. He also drove home a new Cadillac Fleetwood with a check in his pocket. If you would like to see this magnificent old airplane she is at the Yesterday’s Flyers Museum at the Carson City AirportJ open Saturdays and Sundays . It’s a little hard to find, but worth it.
The old lady is back with her family to stay . You may see her in the Reno skies, distinctive by her black fuselage, yellow wings, the lower one much the shorter, and the sound of that big 1340 cubic inch engine. At 55 she is as beautiful as ever.