Saying farewell to the Boeing Stearman

1943 Boeing Stearman N2S-5

On an unusually warm February afternoon, I climbed in the big yellow biplane for the last time.

I admit, tears stung my eyes more than once during the 30 minute flight as I said goodbye to the iconic World War II trainer that’s been a part of Mr. T’s flying club family for nearly a decade.

It might sound a little silly to cry over a plane, but the Stearman has been quite a figure in our lives, gracing our walls, our wedding invitations, and my memory as one of the coolest planes I’ve ever flown in.

There is nothing like buzzing around in an open cockpit. The rumbling radial engine that rattles your bones. The rush of wind in your face. The smell of history translated through avgas and oil. (More on the experience in this “Flying history” post).

And more than that, when Mr. T first learned how to the fly the Stearman, it was just about the most excited I’ve ever seen him. I remember his close-to-giddy enthusiasm as he recounted his first few lessons. And I will never forget our soggy ride to the Watsonville Airshow where after a frigid flight through the rain, he proudly displayed the bird.

Now, it’s made a new home somewhere in Kansas and I hope the new owner loves her at least half as much as I do. Sigh.

Of course, my sadness is somewhat tempered by a new addition to the club, the Cessna 190. More on that very soon. But first, more photos!


The Stearman’s radial engine: Continental W-670. It makes 220 horsepower out of seven cylinders.
The Stearman needs 4.5 gallons of oil. To put that into perspective, a typical car might use a gallon and a half.
Flying over Sacramento on a warm February afternoon.
The Stearman’s motto is “low and slow.” It cruises at 90 miles per hour. (For reference, my Cessna 182 cruises at 150)


The Stearman was originally used as a World War II trainer, typically the first airplane a new cadet would fly. It’s difficulty level earned it the unofficial nickname, Yellow Peril. It’s official nickname was Kaydet.
Post-World War II, the majority of Stearmans that survived became crop dusters.
Cruising over the Sacramento rice paddies.
I like my nature from 500 feet.
Downtown Sacramento.
Me and Sacramento, like you do.
Aerial view of Sacramento State University.
Sacramento State University where I teach. My building is right near the bridge at the center of the photo.
A beautiful last landing, but still… the last.
Mr. T flew the Stearman from Sacramento to Arizona in one day.
How one says goodbye properly.
Whenever I get mopey, Mr. T reminds me that I can just buy him a new one. Of course.

More flying things:

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