Climbing the narrow sidewalk and entering the upholstered tandem seat, two-seater, blue and yellow cloth covered with an open cockpit Boeing PT-17 Stearman, registered N55171 in Stow, Massachusetts, I landed with two upper arms at the back of the wing and fastened an olive green belt and waist. Goggles and helmets, prerequisites for the era, I examined the completely duplicate instruments before me and prepared myself for both the Massachusetts airport fight and a brief, though temporary, return to the skies of basic basic flying.
The Boeing PT-17 Stearman comes from a self-funded design project designed for military training. Just beginning to blink light at the end of the tunnel and surviving only large production, parts and components for other aircraft, primarily those for the two-seater Boeing B247, Stearman believed that the future could only be secured by military design.
Investing on her own funds in 1933, she modified the Model 6 Cloudboy, an earlier Lloyd Stearman spacecraft, introducing a new, circular fuselage similar to that used by the Model 80, another Stearman design, providing only lower wings, fitting a cantilever chassis, and installing a new tail with adjustable lining the back edge of his elevators. Marked as a Model 70, it first flew from Wichita, Kansas on January 1, 1934, powered by a nine-cylinder, 210-hp, Lycoming R-680 radial engine, proving robust, reliable and well adapted to rigorous training fields with the ability to tolerate aerobatic maneuvers assault pilots were frequently subjected. Although she demonstrated excellent handling characteristics during her demonstration flights to the United States Army and Navy in Dayton, Anacostia and Pensacola, her almost ingenious response to the stands proved insufficient to fulfill her intended purpose; As a result, the placement of triangular stand strips made of wood on the lower wings seriously interrupted the flow of air during high angles of attack and eliminated the defect.
The Navy, more interested in the two, ordered 41 aircraft in May 1934, plus spare parts for a 200hp version of the Wright J5 radial engine called Model 73, but designated NS-1 for the Navy. The first production aircraft was introduced in December of that year.
The modified version, which includes a new main chassis and alternately powered by a 225-hp Wright R-760 and a straight-line, nine-cylinder Lycoming R-680 radial engine, was designed that summer and targeted the Army Air Corps. After funding was finally awarded the following year, the Army Air Corps released specifications to Stearman Aircraft Company, resulting in orders for 20, as well as parts, of the Lycoming version, which was designated Model X75 but named PT-13 for Army operation.
The two-piece basic training biplane design, identical to the two operators, with the exception of some minor features, fitted a rectangular welded steel hull that was covered in front with metal plates and fabric at the rear and provided a 25-foot, ¼-inch total length. Its single bearing, unevenly spaced, dashed upper and lower wings, using NACA 2213 wings, is constructed of spruce-laminated bars and ribs. The central part of the upper wing was supported by steel support pipes reinforced with a wire pipe, while the intermediate N-type steel pipe supports were carried on both sides. Covered with fabric, they achieved movement around its longitudinal axis of duralumin ailerons installed at the posterior edge of the lower wings, and together they had a range of 32.2 meters and an area of 297.4 square meters.
Welded steel tubes coated with fabric, rear support aircraft and vertical ribs contained slats on their elevators.
The split, cantilevered chassis, which features a metal shackle spring suspension damper in a closed metal embankment on all major legs, was equipped with hydraulic wheel brakes and an adjustable rear wheel.
The double, tandem, open cockpit housed the flight instructor and student pilot, and the luggage could be stored in a closed compartment behind the back of them.
Powered by a twin-knife, adjustable-pitch metal propeller mounted on a steel tube whose radial engine is centrally cross-sectioned, a 43-gallon fuel tank and a four-gallon oil tank installed in the engine bay itself, an aircraft with an empty weight of 1,936 pounds and a gross figure of 1,717 pounds, could climb at 840 feet per minute, achieving a top speed of 124 mph and an upper ceiling of 11,200 feet. Range was 505 miles. The cruiser's speed, at 65 percent power setting, was 106 mph and the landing speed was 52 km.
The power of World War II was parallel and dictated the launch of aircraft production. The increasing need for the War Department for basic trainers resulted in an order of $ 243,578 for 26 PT-13As for the Army Air Corps and $ 150,373 for 20 for the Navy, followed by a $ 3 million order for PTs. 13B represented the most in Stearman's history and required the expansion of its plant and the increase of its workforce to 1,000 so far.
In addition to the United States, design has had foreign applications as well. The 76D1, for example, had nine 320-hp cylinders, a dual, adjustable Pratt propeller and a Whitney R-985-T1B engine, three 30-caliber machine guns, a two-way radio and a float, and were initially commissioned by the Argentine Navy. The 73L3, which has a 225-hp Lycoming R-680-4 engine, flew to the Philippines and the aircraft saw service in Brazil.
Indeed, by 1940 Stearman was producing one PT-13 type trainer every 90 minutes, and the momentum, once launched, was unspeakable. On June 25 of that year, the Navy signed a $ 3.8 million contract for the 215-hp N2S-2 and -5s with 215 hp with the L5, launching another factory expansion of 40,000 square feet. By August, 1,100 people worked two shifts at eight hours six days a week, while the following month, 1,400 worked three shifts every day at eight hours.
The completed aircraft were transported either to the Army Air Force; base at Randolph Field, Texas or the Navy in Pensacola, Florida.
To avoid production delays due to unavailability of the engine, Stearman produced two sub-versions. The first one, the PT-17, features a 300hp tension airframe, though it was powered by a 220-hp Continental R-670-5 radial as standard, while the second, the PT-18, was manufactured with Jacobs R -755 with 225 hp. However, only the last 150 were built. Both appeared in 1940.
The guy reached a major milestone on March 15 the following year when the Army Air Corps delivered 1,000. the basic flight coach in Wichita, the only Stearman design to ever achieve such batch production. But the milestones, fueled by the war, were quickly set: just five months later, on August 27, 2,000. the aircraft, PT-17, was delivered to the Army Air Corps. These production rates could only be supported by an equal growing workforce, eclipsing 3,000 in April and 5,000 in June.
In September 1941, the Stearman airline, which has since become the "steingman of the Boeing division," first eliminated the Stearman name for the first time, redesigned, simply, "boeing airline, the Wichita Division."
The basic design also had civil application in accordance with the approved type certificate. 743, assigned June 6, 1941, for model A75L3, equivalent of 225 hp PT-13 and model A75N1, continental R of 220 hp. -670 colleague. The types, produced concurrently with existing military production lines, were sold to Parks Air College, Illinois, one of the operators of the Civilian Pilot Training Program, and in Peru as A75N1.
By December 1941, the aircraft was completed every 60 to 70 minutes.
Another specialized version, the PT-27, featured a modified Continental Arctic temperature engine, a canopy cockpit, an instrument flying hood, electrical system installation, and landing lights. Of the 300 ordered by the Royal Canadian Air Force, 287 were returned between December 1942 and June 1943 for failure to complete the necessary modifications after delivery, rendering them unsuitable for sub-zero temperatures.
When the war finally ended in 1945, the Wichita Boiching Division produced 8,584 primary flight coaches, or 44 percent of all war coaches. Yet, more than a year after the production line was closed, it received an order for 24 N2S-4s from the People's Republic of China. Two such aircraft – one with serial number 37902, first delivered on October 31, 1942 and recorded 1,564 hours, and one with serial number 55759, first delivered on July 20, 1943 and take off 1,116 hours – were found were delivered in Clinton, Oklahoma, and after the overhaul and installation of the six-cylinder Lycoming O-435-II engines were delivered May 23, 1947. Later, they were joined by a 20-hp Continental R-670-4 with N2S-3 power.
In all, Stearman produced 11 major versions of primary coaches for the Army and Navy.
Massachusetts PT-17 instrument panel, located beneath a slender plexiglass windshield, contains a compass, a vertical speed indicator, an airspeed indicator (in miles per hour), a tilt and tilt indicator, an altimeter, an hour, an outdoor air and pressure gauge oil and fuel (in pounds per square inch), propeller gauge (in revolutions per minute) and fuel tank switch, the latter for "left" "properly" or "off". The throttle for power and blend is located on the left side wall while the rudder and brake pedals are on the floor just above my feet.
An undisclosed 220hp continental power engine, 46-liter fuel tank filling, and powered by properly advanced throttle and throttle control, has thrown into the air a box that promises lift, such as its spraying, smoking and auger-reeking propellers . it rotated in a horizontal vertical stabilizer, instantly causing the rod between my legs to tighten against its rear position.
Corresponding to its forward butterfly, Stearman shifted beneath the dazzling, noon, parallel to the Assabel River, turning to the right and performing its full engine start, angular to a manicured, sloping, 2,300-foot grass field that would immediately serve as its runway. After all, it was World War II.
Leaning forward under its own power and aligning with the grass field, the PT-17 snapped into the wind with fully advanced butterflies, raising its tail generated before separating its two spinning main wheels at 60 mph and overcoming the field's perimeter trees into climbing , turning left at 550 feet.
Massachusetts green-upholstered topography, blue lake, undisturbed in the crystal blue, 80-degree June sky, has receded below me.
Setting at 1200 feet at a speed of 600 feet per minute and 72 mph, it showed airspeed, biplane, registering a 1800 rpm power reading on its single propeller, traversed countless mirror reflecting lakes with grass. the Stow field now boils down to an indistinguishable green carpet.
The destined, powerful signal of the shaking of the rod of an equally helmeted and stuffy pilot behind me, whose presence could be visually verified by the tiny mirror installed on the upper wing on the underside, indicated the flight of hands and the touch of my helmet confirmed its assent.
The stick between my legs, the only means of controlling the lateral (tilt) and longitudinal axis of the aircraft, reduced my fate and direction to one channel and, with a bomb bombarded from all angles, reached a new established freedom that eclipsed both earthly restrictions and the adjective description.
Keeping 240 degrees southeast moving above Hudson at 80 mph, I pointed my nose toward the still nebulous outline of Mount Wachusett, whose silhouette rose above the horizon line, now isolated from my own world, separated from civilization, soil, and even the pilot behind me, in the harmonious coupling of the soul with the universe. Isolated, pasted with nothing, be it a physical location or a negative emotion, the soul eventually returns to its autonomous state over and over again. That this country could only be permanent …
Driving south, south, moving 180 degrees above Marlborough, I skipped the Sudbury reservoir, upper and lower wings generated, bringing me to 1800 feet at 90 mph, while the engine drank 11 gallons of fuel.
Left stick pressure forced the PT-17 eastbound across Southboroug and Framingham toward Boston, and its engine oil pressure was 75 pounds per square inch.
Most of the training of WWII civilian and military pilots took place on the aircraft I was currently flying.
Wanting to meet the overwhelming need and reach the student population of up to 20,000 pilot trainees a year, President Roosevelt signed a bill in December 1938 to create a Civilian Pilot Training Program, in which pilots, already armed with many hours of civilian schooling, would be trained to complete training at Army and Navy Air Force Base in PT-13, PT-17 and N2S Stearman aircraft. To eliminate the two major disadvantages of under-enrollment in the military technology curriculum and the initial obligation to serve in the armed forces immediately upon graduation, a primary training program in which the Civil Aviation Administration first reviewed and approved civilian personnel created flight schools. Specially contracted facilities, staff of civilian flight instructors who themselves had to take pilot training courses at Randolph Field to "ensure uniformity of training in accordance with established Air Corps methods and standards", were delivered to the curriculum, textbooks and Basic Trainers Stearman directly from the military. The first such pilots entered the program on June 1, 1939 and eventually numbered 125 scattered across 41 schools by December 1941.
The infamous attack on Pearl Harbor during that month was preceded by the unprecedented construction of pilot corps and combat groups. Three months before the event, in the fall, the Army Air Corps drafted a plan for a simultaneous battle against the German Third Reich and the Japanese Empire, estimating the need for two million troops and 88,000 aircraft. Although the Army Air Corps Training Centers at Randolph Field, Maxwell Field in Alabama and Moffet Field in California were established in mid-1940, they would prove woefully inadequate in the event of war, as would a small number of pilots came out of them. As war clouds would soon burst at the seams, the urgency of correcting these shortcomings could not be underestimated, and the projected number of required combat groups and pilots increased at clock speed with a meandering clock. Two months before Germany invaded Poland, that number was 24 combat groups and 1,200 annual pilots, but, when Germany invaded Norway, those numbers increased to 41 and 7,000. Hitler's invasion of France further escalated the need to 54 and 12,000 and ultimately to 84 and 39,000.
Another strong shaking of the rod indicated that it was time to give up control too early, which I confirmed with another hand signal from the top of the helmet, and the pilot took over, showing some significant maneuvers: throwing his back, induced biplanes in a vertical dive, green- upholstered ground now just outside the windshield as it accelerated through 1200 meters, before being arrested in G-force withdrawal, recovering to a return to level.
Starting spiraling to the left bank, the biplane made its way through 500 feet, leveling and overhanging the terrain, before retreating once more and circling back to the left for its final approach. I seemed to brush the trees at 400 yards with my outstretched main wheels, the elevator slammed into the grass at a reduced 60 mph stream, biting the soft surface of the tires until the deceleration allowed the rear wheel to reposition itself on the ground.
Driving my hand to the right, the PT-17 Stearman activated the brakes, and I pulled out of my seatbelt and belts, helmets and goggles and lifted myself from the seat like a pillow, lowering myself with the wings. towards the grass along the stripe of the wing root.
The waiting passenger, to my envy, took my place in the still-scattering biplane, a scene perhaps reminiscent of the "production line" of student pilots waiting for the availability of the PT-17 for their next lecture in the 1940s. The aircraft, as the first link in the victory chain, provided vital training for pilots who subsequently switched to larger, more powerful and heavily armed fighters and bombs, with which they eventually triumphed in the war. The initial, and sometimes the smallest, aspect of any surgery often proves to be the most important.
Returning to my car in the midst of the heat, I would think about that philosophy …