Although there have been hundreds of different types of airplanes developed in the last ninety-seven years, only a very few have had the qualities of design, performance, esthetics, and most importantly, the opportunity to become a classic. Of these acknowledged classics, very few have been training airplanes. Without a doubt, the Stearman Model 75 “Kaydet” must be listed as one of the all time classic airplanes and probably was the most significant biplane ever built.
To be a successful military trainer a design had to be simple, sturdy, reliable, and exhibit excellent flying and ground handling characteristics, while at the same time be demanding enough to separate “the men from the boys.” The Stearman was all of this and more. Today, whenever the general public sees a biplane, regardless of its type, it most likely is identified as a “Stearman.” Surely, that is a mark of true greatness.
During WW II the Stearman 75 was produced in greater numbers than any other biplane in history and probably more military pilots learned to fly in it than any other airplane. After WW II it was readily available on the surplus market and became the backbone of the agricultural aviation industry as well as an inexpensive sport airplane for the civilian pilot.
With the growth of the antique airplane movement during the last fifty years the Stearman once again became much in demand, for many of the same reasons that had made it a successful military steed. It flew beautifully, was easy to maintain, had abundant spare parts available, and was still available in large quantities. Today, the Stearman is still the most common antique biplane in sport flying circles and remains one of the most coveted of all.
Although there are still many Stearmans flying today, many enthusiasts feared that through the passing of time, the technical knowledge and historical lore surrounding this grand old bird would be lost. Consequently, in 1966, the Stearman Restorers Association was formed to perpetuate interest and knowledge of the Stearman. The SRA serves as a clearing house for all kinds of information about the Stearman and is in the forefront of the activity of the Stearman lovers all over the country to keep the greatest biplane of all time airborne.