The Last of the Breed – Mike Porter’s Atomic Stearman

WARBIRD RADIO – Atomic Stearman?  Yes, believe it or not, around fifty Stearman biplanes were still flying in the United States Air Force at the beginning of the atomic age.  It wasn’t until 1949 the newly minted United States Air Force, retired the last of it’s famous biplane trainers.  Stearman artisan, Mike Porter is completing his latest restoration,  Stearman 42-17720.  The buzz number is TF-720.  What, “TF”?  According to Mr. Porter, the “TF” designation comes from same USAF Technical Order that standardized the red stripe inside the national insignia.  Porter added, this was in the age when a Mustang was listed in the “P”, or pursuit category.  “T” was training in this case and the “F” was specific for the PT-13.  Mike says “TA” would have been the buzz number for an AT-6 and “TG” would have been the designator for a PT-17.  How’s that for a little unique history?

Stearman 720 will be like no Stearman flying today, this unique aircraft will be restored to the 1949 USAF specifications, making it a true “atomic” age biplane.  Texas folks should pay close attention to 720, as she served her entire military career in the great republic.  To call 720 the Yellow Rose of Texas, would be fitting for her history.  Her military career began at Goodfellow Field outside San Angelo, then she bounced around the Lone Star state until she was placed in storage at Pyote Field.  Her final few days in service were alongside legends like the Enola Gay, Memphis Belle and many more including the CAF’s B-17 “Sentimental Journey”.  Mike says the story deepens here, 720 left Pyote when American Duster Company purchased her, along with forty-nine other Stearmans (they bought all fifty of the last birds).  The new duster fleet was reassembled and flown off a dirt road, across from Interstate-20.  It was from that dirt road they began their new lives with big engines, spraying crops in Idaho.  Stearman 720 disappeared from the registry in 1970 and hasn’t flown since.   It’s twist in history and lack of flying has helped to preserve it as a real time capsule.  Today, 720 is nearly complete and its list of rare and wonderful original equipment is still growing.

For the warbird purest out there, 720 will fast become their favorite Stearman, here’s why:

  • Original instruments and panel layout
  • Original vacuum tube intercom and battery
  • Original right hand Co2 fire extinguisher
  • Original inertial starter
  • Original electrical boxes (mounted correctly – up front)
  • Original map cases
  • Original wooden seats, wooden control sticks and metal floor boards
  • Stock Hayes wheels and brakes (1/500 sets made)
  • Freshly overhauled engine
  • New wood
  • New hardware – epoxy painted
  • Covered with Ceconite and Airtech Coatings 

Bonus:  According to engineer drawings (see image in gallery) the last few Stearmans were equipment with passing lights on the upper left wing.  Mike is considering installing one after a little more research – neat!

When asked how many of the last 50 were flying, Mike wasn’t sure.  He knows of a few that are still airworthy and operating; however, he points out with a smile, 720 will be the only one flying with a period correct restoration.  The historical significance of the last Stearman biplanes can’t be overlooked.  As the USAF was transitioning from props to jets and conventional weapons to atomic,  a handful of vintage biplanes were still in active service.  Stearman 720 is the last of the breed, and will soon fly again as a reminder of just how far we’ve come. 

Expected completion:  Summer of 2017 / EAA’s AirVenture is already on the list of planned visits.

Offers for purchase will be considered:  info@warbirdradio.com

PHOTO GALLERY:

Warbird Radio LIVE! – Marcus Paine’s Bush Country Stearman Extreme – Episode 602

MarcusWEBWARBIRD RADIO – What do you get when you combine a native Alaskan with aviation and US Army Special Forces experience?  The answer: Marcus Paine.  An aviator’s aviator who boldly pilots his 1940’s era Stearman through some of the most challenging terrain in North America.  Find out how he does it and why on this episode of Warbird Radio LIVE!

Rugged Alaskan, Marcus Paine, has been flying planes for over 30 years, and has over 10,000 hours in tailwheel airplanes. A very versatile aerobatic performer and star of Discovery’s AIRSHOW!, Marcus flies his 1941 Boeing 450 Stearman, the American Champion Super Decathlon the Piper PA-18 Super Cub and is the main pilot for Carol Pilon and her 450 Stearman.

He is a distinguished graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and a former U.S. Army Special Forces Officer, Airborne Ranger, and Jumpmaster. He commanded a combat dive A Team and worked projects throughout the Middle East and South America. And if you were to swoon while meeting Marcus, fear not – he’s EMT qualified!

When he’s not flying at an airshow, you can find Marcus at his Unusual Attitudes flight school instructing pilots of all skill levels new ways of thinking about the principles of flight and mastering the airplane in every attitude.

As always, your call and comments are welcomed!

QUICK LINK:  Marcus Paine’s Website

STUDIO LINE: 478-787-4768

SKYPE: warbirdradio

PHOTO GALLERY:

 

Fly The PT-13 – Photo Tour!

WARBIRD RADIO – Take to the skies in the rare PT-13.  So what’s the difference in the PT-13 and PT-17? They a look the same but the engines are different.  The PT-13 uses the Lycoming R-680 and the PT-17 uses the Continental R-670.  The legendary Stearman’s were the first airplanes most WWII pilots trained in.

After the war, many were used as crop dusters and sprayers.  Today the PT-13/PT-17 remains a popular warbird for pilots and enthusiasts alike. The PT-13 featured in the video and photo tour was owned by Jeff Whitford at the time we published.

PT-13 PHOTO GALLERY

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS

Crew: two, student and instructor
Length: 24 ft 9 in (7.54 m)
Wingspan: 32 ft 2 in (9.81 m)
Height: 9 ft 8 in (2.95 m)
Wing area: 298 sq ft (27.7 m²)
Empty weight: 1,931 lb (878 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 2,635 lb (1,198 kg)
Powerplant: 1— Continental R-670-5 seven-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 220 hp (164 kW)

Maximum speed: 135 mph (117 knots, 217 km/h)
Cruise speed: 96 mph (83 knots, 155 km/h)
Service ceiling: 13,200 ft (4,024 m)
Climb to 10,000 ft (3,050 m): 17.3 min

Warbird Radio LIVE! – Safety Month’s Maintenance & Restoration – 3/10/15 – 8pm ET

MerlinMaintenanceWARBIRD RADIO – As winter draws to a close aircraft are coming out of maintenance and preparing to fly.  Learn a few tips for a safe transition back to the air on tonight’s Warbird Radio LIVE!  Restoration and maintenance experts Scott Yoak and Mike Porter join Matt Jolley during a special Safety Month edition of WRL.

Scott Yoak is one of the premiere P-51 Mustang demonstration pilots in North America and Mike Porter is known the world over for his Stearman biplane restoration and flying (another added benefit – both men are Certified Flight Instructors).  Practical advice for a safe flying season, maintenance tips and tricks and your calls and questions are all scheduled for Tuesday evening’s broadcast.

The guys from Warbirds News will also join the show with a look at this week’s headlines.  Show time is 8pm (EASTERN) right here on WarbirdRadio.com.  Thanks for tuning in!

STUDIO LINE:  478-787-4768

SKYPE: warbirdradio

EMAIL:  info@warbirdradio.com

QUICK LINK:  Scott Yoak’s Website

QUICK LINK:  Mike Porter’s Contact

QUICK LINK:  Warbirds News

 

Warbird Restoration & Maintenance Experts Team Up For Safety Month

scooterandmikeWARBIRD RADIO – We’re excited to announce warbird restoration and maintenance experts Scott Yoak and Mike Porter are teaming up for Safety Month here on Warbird Radio.  Both men not only restore and maintain vintage military airplanes, they also fly them.

Scott Yoak is one of the premiere P-51 Mustang demonstration pilots in North America and Mike Porter is known the world over for his Stearman biplane restoration and flying (another added benefit – both men are Certified Flight Instructors).  Practical advice for a safe flying season, maintenance tips and tricks and your calls and questions are all scheduled for Tuesday evening’s broadcast.

Join us at 8pm (EASTERN) 3/10/15 right here on WarbirdRadio.com.  Thanks for tuning in!

QUICK LINK:  Scott Yoak’s Website

QUICK LINK:  Mike Porter’s Contact

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