Introducing “civilians” to the fun of flight in a Stearman biplane is a labor of love for Robert Preston and David Brown.
The two pilots hope to spend most of the 45th National Stearman Fly-In – it’s set for Sept. 5-10 – giving rides from Galesburg Municipal Airport.
Both fly the Stearman Model 75, the most widely-used primary trainer during the World War II era. It produced more military pilots than any other series of aircraft ever built. Dozens of surviving Stearmans are expected here for this year’s Fly-In.
Preston says flying in an open-air cockpit airplane “is a thrill that shouldn’t be passed up, especially if you’re an aviation enthusiast. And the Stearman is just the aircraft to make that thrill come true.”
First-time passengers “marvel over how solid this airplane feels in the air, how smooth the plane flies, and what an outstanding view” the open cockpit provides, Browns ays. “It is hard to put a price tag on this type of memory.”
“It is a true joy to share our passion for this type of flying with our passengers,” Brown adds. And buying a flight “helps to support the maintenance of the beautiful aircraft and keep a piece of aviation history flying for many years to come,” he says.
“As caretaker of this historical aircraft, I get to share her with people who otherwise may not have access to this type of airplane,” Preston says. “Passengers get to experience history with all five senses, have some fun and leave with memories that will last a lifetime.”
● Robert Preston, a professional pilot, is from Canton, OH, and is based in Akron, OH. He operates his Stearman flights under the banner of Heritage Biplane, Ltd.
● Preston will offer rides daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Sunday, Sept. 4, to Saturday, Sept. 10.
● Rides may be scheduled by calling (330) 354-2283 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ups also may schedule a ride with the pilot in front of the Jet Air Inc. hangar at Galesburg Municipal Airport. Preston may also be contacted directly at (330) 328-4527.
● Heritage Biplane, Ltd. offers three ride options — a 20-minute sightseeing ride around the Galesburg area for $160; a 30-minute “hands on” flight allowing the rider to take the controls during the flight for $210, and a 1-hour-long flight that combines sight-seeing and the “hands on” experience for $395. “Flights can be straight and level, allowing plenty of time to see the countryside, or they can be a little more spirited to suit the taste of the more adventurous,” Preston says.
● This will be Preston’s seventh consecutive year offering biplane rides at the National Stearman Fly-In.
● David Brown, Warrenton, VA, teams with another professional pilot, Brian Rosenstein, Stanley, NC, to offer Stearman rides under the banner of Brown Aviation, LLC. The website is www.brownsbiplanerides.com.
● Brown and Rosenstein will offer rides daily from 9 a.m. to about 6 p.m. – and later if asked – beginning Sunday, Sept. 4, through Saturday, Sept. 10.
● Rides may be scheduled by calling (540) 219-3259. Walk-ups also may schedule a ride with the pilot in front of the Jet Air Inc. hangar at Galesburg Municipal Airport.
● Flight description: “A world-class 30-minute aerobatic flight in an authentic Stearman biplane from World War II. During this flight you will experience a spin, loops, rolls, a hammer-head stall, a Cuban-8 and several other aerobatic maneuvers in addition to seeing the countryside surrounding Galesburg from altitudes up to 3,000 feet.” Rides cost $300, the same as previous years, and are discounted 10 percent from Brown’s normal charge especially for the National Stearman Fly-In.
● Brown has offered Stearman rides for more than 14 years. He and Rosenstein both have many more years of experience doing aerobatics in the airplane. Brown won the Master’s Aerobatic competition during the 40th National Stearman Fly-In in 2011, and is an air show pilot with the Flying Circus Airshow of Virginia. Rosenstein won the 2015 National Stearman Fly-In aerobatic contest.