I was reading the SRA form and came across an interesting post. Thread Title: Old Duster Pilots. As is often the case, Boat gave the best summary. Most of the Stearmans were trainers for a few years, but dusters for many years.
I helped license a Stearman in Germany. When we finally got all the paperwork finished, we found the frame had 8000 plus hours. The owner was just flabbergasted. When he found out it was a duster, he asked if this affected the value? Since he had spent several years and thousands of dollars on the restoration, I said I think this is a plus, not a minus. He recently sold the aircraft to another European and I can assure you, being a prior duster did not hurt the selling price.
I looked into the history of my aircraft, N 73552. It is a late production, 1943 B75Nl. After the war, it was sold for $ 500 and began its history as a duster. Since the 220 was the smallest engine, it was converted to a Lycoming 300. An insurance company had a picture of the aircraft in a sales poster. One of the past owners saw the add and contacted me. He was a duster in the Oklahoma area. He sent the pictures of 73552 with a Lye 300. I don’t know if the other picture is the same aircraft, but look at the young girl. The plane was sold to 4 or 5 other dusters and had two chattel leans. It was parked in 1956 and ended up in a barn in Oklahoma.
I purchased the aircraft in 1990. Jim Friedline became a life saver as I rebuilt the plane. Jim knows Stearmans. I knew all the folks at Dusters and Sprayers on a first name basis. Every time I stripped any paint, I could smell the chemicals. My wife, Brenda, was ready to move out. I don’t know what was worse, the paint stripper, the old duster chemical smell or the Polyfiber process. Most of the stripper was purchased from Delta Airlines. Great stuff, but it stunk. I have one original upper wing, a new center section and 3 wing kits from Big Sky. The restoration was completed in 1991.
After a 35 year lapse, 73552 flew again. It now has a Continental 220. It took over a year to change the registration from an A 75L-3 to a B75 NI. I got my A&P and eventually my IA. Dealing with the Atlanta FSDO was an interesting education.
I have flown 73552 about 2000 hours and flown over 1000 passengers. Most flights have a few loops and spins. Only three people have experienced any air sickness. They were all pilots. (strange). One ground loop, (not Me), two engine rebuilds and a lot of hangar rash, 73552 is going strong.
The plane was recently on the cover of the SRA home web page and the SRA magazine. (November 2013). Usually it is not as clean as the picture. The US Air Force Arnold Air Station was sending graduate engineers to the University of Tennessee Flight testing center in Tullahoma, Tennessee. The purpose of the flying was to have the engineers try and record flight test data It turns out, UT’ s heavily instrumented aircraft do a much better job recording data. N 73552 began its life as a Navy trainer, then a duster, and finally as a restored trainer. The Engineers at USAF Arnold all had a blast. They all failed to get the test data on our flight. They loved the aerobatics.
We had two daughters that were once teenagers. These were trying times. They survived, we survived and we are all the better for it. Boat said it the best. If your Stearman was a duster you own a bigger piece of history Your plane survived. So, if your Stearman was not a duster, it is OK.