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National Stearman Fly-In

Back to the past: Fly-In features sights, sounds of World War II

GALESBURG, IL – There are no “hangar queens” at the National Stearman Fly-In.

Most of the old warbirds brought to Galesburg fly every day. That’s what makes the event – this year it’s Sept. 3-8 at Galesburg Municipal Airport — different from many other fly-ins.

It’s a sight to be seen – and heard. The Stearmans’ radial engines make a distinct sound taking off and passing overhead.

Dozens of Stearmans are expected here again this year. Here’s how one pilot described the spectacle: “A hundred or more Stearmans on the grass is an immersion in the past you won’t find anywhere else in the country.”

The Stearmans – most are between 70 and 80 years old — won a place in history during World War II, launching more military pilots into the air than any other series of primary trainers ever built.

Fly-In visitors can get a close-up look at the airplanes during a tram ride along the Stearman flight line, says Dale Ruebner of Galesburg, who’s in charge of the rides.

Members of Knox County AMVETS Post 8 will act as hosts on the trams again this year.

A narrated program tells tram riders about Stearman history, why those who own and fly them are so dedicated, and about the Fly-In’s history, Ruebner says. This is the 47th year for the event.

Trams will operate each day of the Fly-In from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting. Cost to ride is $1 per person. Access to the flight line is generally restricted to registered Fly-In participants for safety reasons.

The tram rides were started several years ago to provide a convenient, safe and secure way to allow large numbers of people to get close to the planes, Ruebner says.

Facts to know about the plane that put generation into the air

GALESBURG, IL – Some know the Stearman Model 75 as “The Pilot Maker.”

It earned that honorific because more men and women in World War II’s “Greatest Generation” learned to fly in Stearmans than any other series of aircraft built.

Stearmans assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps also were known at “The Kaydet.” Stearmans sent to the U.S. Navy had a less-revered nickname: “The Yellow Peril.”

The Stearman division of Boeing Aircraft Co., located in Wichita, KS, built 8,428 of the Model 75 biplanes, plus enough spare parts to assemble another 2,000, between 1935 until February 1945.

Here is more information about the Model 75 series of Stearmans:

>> Crew: two, student and instructor 
>> Length (prop to tail): 24-feet-9-inches 
>> Upper wingspan: 32-feet-2-inches
 >> Lower wingspan: 31-feet-two-inches 
>> Upper and Lower wing chord: 5 feet
>> Wing area: 298 square feet
>> Horizontal stabilizer (elevator) width: 12-feet-six-inches
>> Vertical stabilizer (rudder) height: 5-feet-1/4-inches 
>> Landing gear tread (tire centerline to tire centerline): 6-feet-four 1⁄4 inches >> Prop diameter: 8-feet-six-inches 
 >> Empty weight: 1,931 pounds 
 >> Maximum takeoff weight: 2,636 pounds 
 >> Maximum speed: 135 mph 
 >> Cruise speed: 96 mph 
 >> Fuel capacity: 46 gallons 
 >> Fuel burn rate: 12 gallons per hour 
 >> Oil capacity: 4.4 gallons 
 >> Engines used (7-cylinder, air-cooled, radial): Continental R-670, 220 horsepower Lycoming R-680, 225 horsepower Jacobs R-755, 240 horsepower >> Paint Schemes
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Planes came from the Wichita factory painted silver Army colors: Blue fuselage, yellow wings
 Navy colors: Yellow fuselage, yellow wings
 Other military paint markings were the base commander’s choice Today, many owners opt for a paint scheme of their own choice