The Boeing Stearman Kaydet A75N1, commonly referred to simply as a Stearman, is a two-seater, fabric-covered biplane with wood wings and a radial engine. Referred to as a tail dragger because of its aft third wheel, the Stearman is perhaps the most recognizable of all biplanes. Its celebrity status is due in large part to its immortalization in many novels and films. The Stearman was used primarily as a U.S. Navy (NS/N2S) and U.S. Army Air Corps (PT-13/-17) flight-training aircraft during World War II. Other countries have also used the Stearman for training purposes, including the Philippines, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, China, and Canada.
The Stearman Aircraft Division of Boeing in Wichita, Kan., delivered the first of the airplanes in 1934 and manufactured them until 1944. Ironically, though Lloyd Carlton Stearman was no longer associated with the company at the time the Stearman Kaydet was designed, he later rejoined the company and was chiefly responsible for redesigning the Stearman as a crop duster which led to its resurgence in popularity. It remained in service through the early 1990’s as a crop duster largely because it performed so well at slow speeds and at low altitudes. Several thousand of the original 8,584 aircraft are still in operation today, primarily in private collections for civilian use.
Some restored Stearman aircraft have been updated with modern communications, navigation, and emergency equipment, including an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT). The original seat “cushions” were parachutes strapped to the pilot, though some current owners have replaced the parachutes with real cushions. To preserve the condition of renovated models, owners often fit the Stearman with a custom cockpit cover and/or hanger the plane. When shopping for a Stearman Kaydet A75N1, closely inspect the wing fabric’s condition and look for tears or holes. Check that all control surfaces are fully functioning, and hire a certified mechanic to inspect the entire plane, including the engine, electrical components, wheel assemblies, and brakes.
Maximum speed: 124 mph
Cruising speed: 106 mph
Ceiling: 11,200 feet
Engine: 220 hp Continental R-670-5 radial engine (PT-17)
Range: 505 miles