STEARMAN

Lloyd Carlton Stearman, architectural student and naval cadet pilot, worked for E.M. Laird in Chicago, moved with him to Wichita and stayed after Laird’s return to Chicago, being appointed chief engineer of former Laird company after it was renamed Swallow. Dispute with patron Moellendick led to Beech and Stearman setting up with Cessna to form Travel Air. In 1926 Stearman resigned and set up Stearman Aircraft Co. at Venice, CA, in premises of former Lyle-Hoyt (local Travel Air distributor), producing C-1 open 3-seat biplane (cheap with 90-hp OX-5, expensive with 240-hp Salmson) and derived C-2. In 1927 Stearman, with Hoyt, returned to Wichita to occupy plant at Bridgeport where Cessna had made first aircraft 1917. Better-capitalized, Stearman sold aircraft in large numbers, even in Depression, all biplanes for passengers, mail, training or sport. At time of giant conglomerates, 15 August 1929, company was bought by United Aircraft and Transport. Stearman opened large new plant at municipal airport (today McConnell AFB). Northrop briefly merged with Stearman, Stearman himself leaving to join Varney airline and later to be president of Lockheed. After dismantling of United, Stearman was re-formed as division of Boeing September 1934. By this time Model 70 (December 1933) had been developed to X75, selected October 1934 as Army primary trainer. Subsequently total production of PT-13, PT-17, N2S and other versions amounted to 10,346, ending February 1945. Post-war 'Stearmans' have been most active, though company ceased to exist 1934.

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