On Sunday, May 5th there will be a very special Stearman Bi-plane fly-by for Cockpit-Fest. The aircraft will fly past the old 1929 Stearman Sales Hanger. The planes will fly past the Kansas Aviation Museum and then make a turn near the factory building where all the Stearman bliplanes were made. This is a special event that you will not want to miss. The Stearman factory was eventually purchased by Boeing which lead to the modern facility that builds 737 fuselages and Dreamliner cockpits today.
After WW1, Lloyd Stearman moved back to Wichita, Kan., where he found a job doing cubical structure design work for the S.S. Voigt architectural company. By 1920, he had become a mechanic at the newly formed E.M. Laird Airplane Co., building the "Swallow" biplane. In 1924, Laird reorganized the company to form the Swallow Airplane Manufacturing Co., with Stearman as chief engineer and Walter Beech as test pilot and salesman. Stearman and Beech worked on the prototype for a new airplane with a welded tubular steel fuselage but it was not approved.
As a result, in 1925, Walter Beech, Lloyd Stearman and Clyde Vernon Cessna, an aeronautical engineer, formed the Travel Air Co. in Wichita, and the Travel Air commercial biplane first flew the same year. In October 1926, Stearman moved to Venice, Calif., where he did some stunt flying and where he met Fred Hoyt and Mac Short, also Kansas fliers. The trio formed Stearman Aircraft Inc. to build planes for the movie industry.
They built the first "Stearman" C-1 and the C-2. However, business was slow. A former investor, Walter Innes, convinced Stearman to take his company back to Kansas, helped by friends in Wichita who raised $60,000 to facilitate the move.
The renamed Stearman Aircraft Co. in Wichita started out 1927 equipped only with two lathes (9 and 16 inches), a 20-inch drill press, five small bench drills, an 8-inch shear, a 4-inch roll and a beader. Nonetheless, it built the successful C-3, designed for both mail and passenger services. It was used by Charles A. Lindberg to survey the route for Transcontinental and Western Airways, and 136 were built. In 1931, the well-known Los Angeles flier, Ross Hadley, took the Model C-3B on a trip around the world.
In the early 1930's the Stearman Company designed and built a training airplane for the US Air Force and Navy, based on the earlier Model 6. The prototype, named Model 70 took the skies in 1934, followed by the final production series Model 75, which had its maiden flight the same year. Designed as a military aerobatic trainer it featured a rugged airframe stressed to high load factors of 12 Gs positive and 9 Gs negative.
The hallmark of all Stearman aircraft was that they were highly sophisticated and well made, but expensive machines.
When the Stearman Compay was puchased by Boeing this airplane became known as the BOEING STEARMAN, produced in large numbers by Boeing Airplane Company in Wichita, Kansas.
Stearman Hangar, now known as Building #9, is located at what was the north end of the old Municipal Airport on the grounds of McConnell Air Force Base, near the Kansas Aviaiton Museum. Stearman Aircraft Company (Boeing) built the structure in 1929, at a cost of $42,000. The company used the one-story building for storage and display of new airplanes before they were delivered to the purchaser.
Stearman hangar is now owned by the Kansas Air National Guard and was used a squadron building by the Civil Air Patrol. The building has a functional-utilitarian design with some Spanish Mission architectural elements. The north facade has eight cantilevered steel and glass sliding doors and is said to be the first aircraft hanger to utilize them. The building has concrete footings, foundation walls and floors. The interior walls are 13 inches thick and made of brick.