The Commemorative Air Force Utah Wing held their first meeting of the 2016 flying season March 12 with thirty members in attendance. A highlight of the meeting was putting on the newly restored and recovered wings of the unit’s PT-17 Stearman. More than twenty members participated in the restoration project of the wings that occurred from November through December 2015. Next winter the group will restore and recover the aircraft’s tail feathers and fuselage. The Stearman is the centerpiece of their museum located at the Russ McDonald Field in Heber City, UT. The aircraft will appear at several airshows this summer and is now available for rides.
Stearman N1387V is a very unique airplane. It was manufactured in 1941 at the Boeing plant in Wichita, KS. It served as a basic trainer with the U.S. Navy at Corpus Christi,Texas. After the War it was purchased from the military and modified for crop dusting duty. A larger 450 horsepower Pratt and Whitney R-985 engine was mounted to replace the original Lycoming or Continental 330 horsepower engine. Also a Hamilton Standard constant speed propeller was substituted for the original fixed pitch prop. These modifications greatly increased the performance of the aircraft without making major alterations to the basic airframe.
N1387V has not always been maintained and preserved in the original pristine condition seen today. Purchased in the early 1980s as a personal recreational aircraft it was relieved from dusting, and fully restored. Then, while on a cross-country flight to California in August 1986, the aircraft suffered a catastrophic crash in the trees of the Oquirrh Mountains just west of Salt Lake Valley. The CAF Utah Wing was able to purchase the salvage rights and removed the wreckage from the mountain. The wreckage was transported to Twin Falls, ID where it was completely restored to flying condition. It passed its airworthiness tests and made its maiden flight August 17, 1988. Since that time the Stearman regularly performs at local airshows and regional fly-ins.
The wing has planned two major events for the 2016 season. On June 4, the group will host the 4th annual Swing Dance Party starring the Danny Newell All-Star Band. On August 6, the wing will host the 2nd annual Classic Car and Aircraft Show featuring over 50 classic cars and a half dozen classic aircraft.
For more information visit www.cafutahwing.org/