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Date: June 15, 2008

Flying in a Stearman

by Ira McComic

I wrote this article orginally in 2008, not long after I started flying gyroplanes. In the original article, I briefly mentioned an experience with Navy LST operations. Since orginally writing the article, I've written a book about flying Cobra helicopters in Vietnam and this updated article includes a link to an excerpt from that book.

The Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas, is one of my favorite places. Nearly all of the aircraft on display there are maintained in flight readiness, and the ones that are flyable get an opportunity to spread their wings at air shows and other events. Two of the two-place aircraft at the museum - an AT-6 and a Stearman - can even be scheduled for passenger flights and fly nearly every week. These aircraft prove popular, providing fun for the passengers and income for the museum.

As an anniversary gift for her husband, my daughter arranged for him a ride in the AT-6. I tagged along, more excited than Ol' Shep on a rabbit hunt. I raved about all the aircraft at the museum, gushed over the AT-6 in particular, recounted my one-time flight in one, and drooled at the thought that my son-in-law was getting to fly in such a historic plane. I made such a spectacle of myself that my kids knew right away what to get Dad for Father's Day: my very own ride in one of the museum's vintage planes.

I had to make a choice of which aircraft to fly in. I pondered this important decision for more than a week. It was a tough one. I'd flown before in both an AT-6 and Stearman and I would have been happy riding in either one of them again, but since I could only choose one, the Stearman had the edge for several reasons.

First, I couldn't resist the lure of flying in the Stearman's open cockpit, especially when I'd be flying in the summer. It's the same "Look, Ma. No roof!" coolness that makes convertibles such a hot attraction in the summer time.

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