Stearman 87TL flew successfully for the 1st time since the late ’40’s or early ’50’s on Sunday October 6, 2013. That is Sixty plus years! It had been 36 years & nine days since Tim’s dream started (The project was purchased September 26, 1977) which he never gave up on.
87TL first taxied July 29th. The original Bendix brakes were very marginal. Also the Bendix Eclipse 444-3 inertia electric starter drive seal weeped, allowing engine oil into the dry clutch in the starter. The engine oil had to be drained, the oil tank removed to get the starter off the engine to send it back to the overhaulers. More big nickels.
After visiting with friends in the Stearman world, I ordered the Red Line modern disc brake assemblies which included new master cylinders. It took 5 1/2 weeks to get them, but they work beautifully and have close to the same feel & pressure as required on the C195 Cleveland brakes!
Tim was asked a number of times who would test fly the Stearman? It was also my dream to test fly the Stearman.
Friends had suggested I fly off the Grass Runway at Bozeman for the initial test flights, but with recent snow & rain the grass runways was closed with standing water. With a high speed taxi on the main runway to mid-field, then a full power check, 87TL flew off Runway 12 and made a successful wheel landing on the pavement.
I was asked how did it fly many times? With a smile I’ve answered „Beautifully.” Once at altitude and trimmed out with the turn coordinator ball centered and a high power setting, the Stearman flew with hands off the control stick! The many hours of learning how to rig a biplane, adjusting the controls to spec, and double checking them – it flies beautifully.
Wish’n for many sun shiny days and warm temperatures until Thanksgiving!
87TL & Tim
Source / Author: Antique Airfield