Time & Stearman


by Terry Hogan


“Time and Stearman” is the answer.  The question is “What flies by in Galesburg?”  Yes, it has been almost a year since the Stearman Fly-in at Galesburg.  Once again the Magnificent Men (and Women) and Their Flying Machines will return to Galesburg for the largest collection of Stearman anywhere in the world.  Get your calendars out and mark the dates now. Are you ready?  The fly-in is from September 5 through September 11.  If you want more details, you can go to the internet site, listed at the end of this article, or you can call the Galesburg Visitor Center at 309-343-2485.    


But you may ask why you should bother to go all that way out to the airport when you can just look up at the sky and see and hear them fly over.  I hope you don’t really ask that question.  Watching and hearing them fly is certainly part of the thrill.  But so is seeing over 100 Stearman lined up along the grassy areas next to the airport runways.  It is also worthwhile to talk to the owners and pilots of these planes and hear their stories. Most are pleased to talk about the history of their plane and how it was restored. They are rightfully proud of this magnificent biplane of another generation and another time. 


These Stearman fly through the air.  They’re not pushed through the air by an overwhelming application of thrust. The propeller spins around (hopefully) a few feet in front of you.  The sound and the air rushing by the open cockpit is not something to be missed.  It creates a memory of a lifetime to fly in a Stearman.  I believe that as long as I can remember, flying in a Stearman will be one of those special memories that will bring a smile. It is worth doing.


 I have flown in a number of aircraft including small private planes, private jets, commercial jets, and military helicopters.  But the Stearman is by far my favorite.  (If you wonder what I liked least – military helicopters at treetop elevation).  So, you say, “Well that’s all fine and great for the famous and soon-to-be Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist, but how about us poor common folks?”


I am pleased to provide another news scoop brought to you by The Zephyr.  I have confirmed through reliable sources that Blue Sky Aero, Inc. is planning to once again return to the Galesburg Airport to provide Stearman rides for paying customers.  It is currently planned to charge $85 for the flight, but of course with the price of fuel nowadays, who can say for sure!   The Zephyr also understands (although it lacks two independent, credible sources) that the wildly romantic and debonair Stefano will also likely return to do much of the flying.  So ladies, if you want to fly out at sunrise or sunset with the worldly Italian heart-throb Stearman pilot who brought many female hearts to racing speed, make your reservations early. I have provided The Blue Sky Aero homepage address at the end of the article if you want to see if Cindy will take your personal request for Stefano’s special sunset flight.


But, I should note that there will likely be well in excess of 100 Stearman at the airport, judging from the 120 or so Stearman that registered for last year’s fly-in. Who knows, you might get lucky and somebody may offer you a ride.  Hope springs eternal.


I should also mention that judging from past Galesburg fly-ins, Galesburg is usually lucky enough to have some odd-ducks also show up.  The Constellation was no odd duck when it arrived.  It was nothing less than a shiny beautiful swan as it dwarfed the nearby Stearman.  A WWII vintage Mustang has been present for several years.  It has to be one of the all-time classic fighter planes.  When the Mustang does a low fly-by along the airport, it is hard to believe that this thing is over 50 years old.


Speaking of old.  Hopefully, the fly-in will also bring out a few WWII Army Air Corps veteran pilots.  Some of these fine old gentlemen took this first flight in a Stearman as part of their military training.  From there they went on to fighters, or bombers, as skills and needs dictated.  How can you write about what we owe these men? Perhaps if you come out to the airport, you may meet one and hear his story while the telling can still be told. 


If you want to make plans now, I have provided some of the event highlights below. A more complete listing is available on the Internet at the Stearman site listed at the end of this article.


Remember, it is almost here.  Don’t let “Time & Stearman” pass you by.


Selected Highlights

Thursday, September 8

Early Afternoon - Aerobatic competition at the Galesburg Airport

7:30 p.m. "Stearman Big Band Show” at Orpheum Theatre, Galesburg

Friday, September 9

10 a.m.-6 p.m.: Narrated tram rides along Stearman flight line for public. $1 per person

Saturday, September 10

10 a.m.-6 p.m.: Narrated tram rides along Stearman flight line for public. $1per person

1 p.m.: Formation Flying contest, Galesburg Municipal Airport.

5:30 p.m.: Mass Stearman Formation Flight

Sunday, September 11
Mostly devoted to Stearman packing up and heading for home.


References for More Information:

       Blue Sky Aero: 

         Galesburg Visitor Center:  309-343-2485

Stearman Fly-in: