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Photo ID: 1011097
click image to enlarge
Model: Stearman A75N1 Registration: N57843
Year: 1937 Serial Number: 75-049
Engine: Continental W670, 220-HP Owner: Chris D. Stoltzfus & Assoc.
Location: Stoltzfus Private Airport,
Coatesville, PA
Photographer: Stoltzfus, Ken
Date: 1962, Summer Present Registration: N578RS Present Owner (FAA info): Ray Smith, Lockport, NY
Notes: 8/29/03 - In May 1962, I got a 10-minute checkout in a Stearman, did some solo airwork, and shot a few takeoff and landings. I was ready for the world of Stearmans and was off to Champaign, IL for N57843. We had just bought it from the U of I for $2500, along with an early AT-6 for around the same money.

Built in 1937, serial number 49 was known by the University of Illinois as "Brave II". Used in their flight training program, she must have still had a teacher's mindset when I picked her up. My first landing, at Sky Harbor Airport in Indianapolis, was a bit humbling. Probably sensing my overconfidence, she did a bit of dancing for me and I came real close to getting the proverbial "Stearman left lower". I got it straightened out with no damage except to my ego. I was met at the gas pump by an old guy (probably younger than I am now) who had a kind smile on his face. He had witnessed my antics and gave me both admonition about keeping the wing down into the wind, and affirmation for getting it straightened out.

Onward now with a full tank but a low overcast, I was skirting Indianapolis on the NW side and around the top when the engine started to backfire. I found Pope Field and landed to take a look at things. I had a fouled plug on a lower cylinder. Someone there had a new plug and I was soon on my way. I got home the next day after fuel stops in Columbus, OH, and Connellsville and Carlisle, PA. We soon changed a cylinder and flew the aircraft a bit before selling it, probably in 1963.

Brave II went to the Allentown/Bethlehem, PA area. Two died in a stall/spin accident on climb-out, just west of Allentown, in April, 1967. The aircraft was eventually rebuilt by Ray Smith, in Lockport, NY. I talked with Mr. Smith today, and he keeps it (now N578RS) at his grass strip on the farm, just northeast of Niagara Falls, NY. He also has a Porterfield, Cub, Citabria and Cessna 170. Sounds like a nice stable to choose a mount from for an evening's ride!

Many U of I flight students took training in this aircraft. Did you?

Photo ID: 1011098
click image to enlarge
Model: Stearman A75N1 Registration: N94X
Year: 1938-39? Serial Number: 75-373
Engine: P&W R985, 450-HP Owner: Chris D. Stoltzfus & Assoc.
Location: Stoltzfus Private Airport,
Coatesville, PA
Photographer: Stoltzfus, Ken
Date: 1963, Fall Present Registration: Aircraft destroyed Present Owner (FAA info):
Notes: 8/29/03 - "94X" was the finest Stearman firefighter/sprayer our family ever built up. And the last. This was some airplane! A class act. Fast - - and almost too pretty to put to work. This photo was taken just after the aircraft was built up.

N94X was our first Stearman with a full electrical system, i.e. starter, generator and battery. Prior to that we had starters installed, with a battery on a little cart and cables to plug into the aircraft, and before that we just propped them.

Note the accessory cowl - - between the engine and the firewall. Most 450-Stearman ag aircraft were completely open there. However, speed mattered, in getting out to forest fires and on longer ferries to the spray block in forest spraying. Drag makes a lot of difference in speed, and that accessory cowl made a lot of difference in drag. N94X is set up here as a firefighter, but when used as a sprayer we had a low drag pump on it.

We used the Transland T-55, 185-gallon tank in several Stearmans, and Father made a little, flat plexiglass windshield for them.

You might note that it has a square tip prop. We operated under the theory that prop length and blade width were important to aircraft performance. However, we had bought several 12D40-6101A-21, square tip T-6G props, and put a set of blades in this aircraft to see how they worked. It was outstanding, although admittedly we don't know how much better it would have performed with the longer, -12 blades that the other aircraft had.

Unfortunately this aircraft collided with wires near Ellenville, NY in May, 1966, while forest spraying. We lost both a pilot who was fast becoming a friend, and a fine aircraft.

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