Restoration of a 1941 Boeing PT-17 Stearman Moving Along Quickly
The Utah Wing has made great progress on the restoration of their 1941 Boeing PT-17 Stearman – N1387V – the centerpiece of the Utah Wing CAF Museum located at the Heber City, Utah Airport. All four wings are recovered and in the paint shop. The aircraft under restoration served as a WWII trainer in the Army Air Corps. After the war she was a crop duster; fully restored in 1980. Then, while on a cross country flight to California -- August 1986 – she suffered a catastrophic crash in the trees of the Oquirrh Mountains west of the Salt Lake Valley. The Utah Wing of the CAF recovered the wreckage and she was completely rebuilt, taking her maiden flight in 1988. Since then, hundreds have flown in her; thousands have touched her or sat in her. She has thrilled crowds at countless airshows, flown over numerous parades and cemeteries and honored veterans of all branches of the military.
The restoration began on November 1, 2015 with the removal of the four wings. The original plan was to restore the bottom two wings this winter, the top wings during the winter of 2017, and the fuselage and control surfaces during the winter of 2018. But minimal damage and the strong turnout of volunteers quickly moved things along. “The bottom wings were in pretty good shape,” said Steve Guenard, Utah Wing Leader. “We had some minor water damage on the trailing edge and a few gussets had to be replaced, but other than that we were ready to cover.” Volunteers began covering the bottom wings December 1st and they were finished by the end of the month. Dave’s Custom Sheet Metal Shop, owned and operated by Dave Hansen, was ready to receive them and the paint process began. The shop is located on the Heber City Airport.
“Our volunteers weren’t ready to quit!” said Beth Ann Schneider, Project Manager. “Bring it on,” they said. “And so we did!” Fabric was removed from the top two wings on January 2nd revealing beautiful undamaged wood ribs and spars. Covering began immediately and as of today, they are awaiting their turn in the paint shop. “We have had an unbelievable amount of volunteer support from our unit for this project,” said Beth Ann. She added, “It has moved beyond the restoration of a very cool historic airplane. Friendships have formed and our membership has unified around a common cause. They are anxious to get started on the final phase of the restoration.”
Plans are underway for the four wings to be put back on N1387V in the next few months. She is already scheduled to fly at numerous airshows this summer and she is a popular choice for rides and parade and cemetery flyovers, and she will appear at a few local events at the Heber City Airport.But wings will come off again November 1, 2016 in preparation of the completion of the restoration. The fuselage will be sand blasted and repaired as needed; rewiring is planned as well as the replacement of the exhaust system. Recovering the fuselage and control surfaces will hopefully be completed by March 2017.
This project is partially funded by a grant from the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Park City Rotary, the Jack Wells family, and Watts Enterprises and is sponsored by Polyfiber Aircraft Coatings, Riverside, California.
The Utah Wing thanks the volunteer restoration team:
Bruce and Rob Kirchenheiter
If you would like to donate to this project visit www.cafutahwing.org/