Stearman A75N1

A typical Skyway Stearman in the 1950s with the front cockpit replaced by a hopper and
fitted for budworm spraying. The original fabric covering of the fuselage has been replaced with metal.

(Photo: Bill Larkins) 

Lloyd Stearman formed the Stearman Aircraft Corporation in 1927 and established a factory in Wichita, Kansas. Stearman Aircraft became a subsidiary of Boeing in 1934. A number of models were built for the airmail service or oil company executive travel. In Canada, Trans-Canada Air Lines bought three Stearman for pilot training and surveying new routes and were used from 1937 to 1939.

The best-known Stearman was the Model 75. The prototype of this two seat, open cockpit biplane first flew from Wichita in October 1934. It had fabric-covered wooden wings, single-leg landing gear and a welded-steel fuselage. Fitted with a Lycoming R-680 radial engine, the first trainers, designated PT-13s, were delivered to the US Air Corps in mid 1936. In 1940, demand for the trainer outstripped Lycoming’s capacity to supply engines. This led to the Continental R-670-engined version, the PT-17.

Widely known as the Stearman, Boeing Stearman, or Kaydet, it served as a primary trainer for the United States Army Air Forces and the United States Navy. Approximately 50% of all US military pilots, who fought in WW2 received their initial flight training in this sturdy aircraft. A further 10,000 RAF and Fleet Air Arm pilots used the Stearman trainer for primary training, at British Flying Training Schools throughout the United States, between 1941 and 1944.

Over 8,000 of the aircraft were built. No other biplane was ever produced in such numbers and hundreds remain airworthy. In the immediate postwar years they became popular as crop dusters, sports planes, and for aerobatic and wing walking use in air shows.

300 U.S.-built Stearmans (known as the PT-27) were obtained by the RAF in the spring of 1942 to be used by three RAF Elementary Flying Training Schools in Alberta. However, the aircraft were delivered without the promised night-flying equipment or cold-weather systems. In November, 1942, the decision was made by the RCAF to return the Stearmans to the USAAF in exchange for the same number of Fairchild Cornells with enclosed cockpits.

The Museum’s Stearman was one of a number of this type operated from Langley by Skyway Air Service in the 1950s and ‘60s. This aircraft was imported in 1960 and used as a trainer and was not included in the fleet equipped for fire suppression and budworm spray work. It remained in the Seller family until donated to the Museum in November 2016. It is maintained in flying condition.

Technical Details: A75N1 (PT-17 3,519 delivered)

Serial: 75 523, C-FFWV
Manufactured: 1940
Engine: 220 hp (164 kW) Continental R-670-5 seven-cylinder, air-cooled radial
Maximum speed: 135 mph (217 km/h)
Cruise speed: 96 mph (155 km/h)
Empty weight: 1,931 lb (878 kg)
Loaded weight: 2,950 lb (1,338 kg)
Span: 32 ft 2 in (9.81 m)
Length: 24 ft 9 in (7.54 m)
Height: 9 ft 8 in (3 m)
Wing area: 298 sq ft (27.7 sq. m)


The Skyway Stearman.

The Stearman biplane originally flown by Skyway Air Service has been added to the Museum collection. Another yellow biplane for the Museum? Yes, this aircraft, built as a Boeing-Stearman A75N1 in 1940, is one of the most historically significant aircraft to come into the Museum's collection. It was flown by Skyway founder, Art Seller, from Langley for many years. It has been in storage by the family with only brief periods of activity in recent years.
David Seller, son of Skyway founder, Art Seller, donated the aircraft to the Museum at a signing ceremony on 3 November, 2016. Accompanying him were several people who were associated with the original Skyway staff. 
David Seller (R) is presented with a Lifetime Family Membership 
on 9 November by Museum President, Bruce Bakker.

Museum General Manager, Mike Sattler, signs the document to accept the Stearman into the collection.

The day started with Manager, Mike giving the aircraft a little TLC.
After the signing there was time for reminiscing. David recalls that he learnt to fly
on this aircraft under his fathers instruction and did his first solo flight at age 16!
David with Dave Beales share memories - "Remember when the winds were gusting to 40 knots...."
Recalling the past; Arnie Olsen, Dave Beales, David Seller, Werner Griesbeck. 
In front is Dispatcher, Dorothy Thorp.
For more on the history of Art Seller and Skyway Air Service, see the Aviation History section;