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VINTAGE AIR TOURS
MEET THE FLEET

"BETTY"

1943 PT-17 STEARMAN 

"BETTY" SPECIFICATIONS

  • Crew: 2

  • Length: 24 ft 9 in

  • Wingspan: 32 ft 2 in 

  • Height: 9 ft 8 in 

  • Wing area: 298 sq ft)

  • Empty weight: 1,931 lb 

  • Max takeoff weight: 2,635 lb 

  • Fuel capacity: 46 US gal

  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental R-670-5 7-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 220 hp 

  • Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 124 mph,108 kts

  • Cruise speed: 96 mph, 83 kts

  • Service ceiling: 13,200 ft 

  • Time to altitude: 10,000 ft  in 17 minutes 18 seconds

  • Wing loading: 9.9 lb/sq ft

The PT-17 traces its roots to the Stearman Model 70, built as a private venture to meet a 1934 U.S. Army Air Corps request for a new trainer to replace its aging primary trainer fleet. Re-engined with a Wright J-5 Whirlwind, the design was first ordered by the U.S. Navy in 1935 as the NS-1. Using a Lycoming R-680-5 radial engine and known as the Model 75, the Air Corps ordered the type into production as the PT-13 in 1936. With a variety of engines and designations, the Model 75 went on to become one of the most widely produced and used primary trainers in U.S. military service.

 

The Model 75 biplane featured a fabric-covered, welded steel tube fuselage and spruce wing construction, and enjoyed a reputation as a simple, cost effective design. Student pilots occupied the front cockpit, while the instructor sat in a rear cockpit with identical controls. Its rugged, forgiving nature made it an excellent primary trainer, providing a relatively safe introduction for pilot trainees into military flight.The Boeing Aircraft Company bought out the Stearman Company in the middle 1930s, and continued production of the Model 75 for the military. Although built by Boeing, the Model 75 continued to be known as the “Stearman”.

 

In 1940, a Continental R-670-5 engine was fitted to the design to create the PT-17, of which over 3,500 were eventually ordered for U.S. Army service. The plane also enjoyed large U.S. Navy orders as the N2S, and in 1942 both services adopted an interchangeable version as the N2S-5/PT-13D, powered by the Lycoming R-680-17 engine. Demand for the Stearman at the outbreak of World War II outstripped engine supply, so another powerplant, the Jacobs R-755-7, was used on the airframe to create the PT-18.

"NORMA"

1947 NORTH AMERICAN NAVION A 

"NORMA" SPECIFICATIONS

  • Crew: 1

  • Capacity: 3 passengers

  • Length: 27 ft 6 in 

  • Wingspan: 33 ft 5 in 

  • Height: 8 ft 8 in

  • Wing area: 184 sq ft

  • Empty weight: 1,930 lb 

  • Gross weight: 2,850 lb

  • Fuel capacity: 70 US gal 

  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental  IO-520-BB air-cooled engine, 285hp

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 174 mph, 151 kts

  • Cruise speed: 170 mph, 150 kts

  • Range: 800nm

  • Service ceiling: 18,000 ft 

  • Rate of climb: 1,250 ft/min

  • Take-off run: 400 ft 

  • Landing run: 468 ft 

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The Navion was originally designed at the end of World War II by North American Aviation. North American built 1,109 Navions in 1946–47, which included 83 L-17As for the US Army and National Guard.

Ryan Aeronautical Company acquired the design in the summer of 1947, launching production at its San Diego factory in 1948. Ryan built 1,240 Navions (powered by 205 hp Continental O-470 engines or 250 hp  Lycoming O-435 engines, including 163 aircraft for the US armed forces, before production ended in 1951, with Ryan wanting to concentrate on defense production.

The United States Army Air Force bought 83 L-17As, later changed to the U-18 designation from North American in 1946 to be utilized as liaison and staff transport aircraft. 36 went to the Army and 47 to the National Guard. These were supplemented by 163 L-17Bs from 1948, which were ordered by the United States Air Force on behalf of the Army and National Guard, with 129 going to the Army and the rest to the National Guard. During the Korean War, the US Army's Navion fleet added casualty evacuation and forward air controller to the aircraft's liaison and light transport duties.

 

The Navion was phased out of front line service by 1957, with the surplus  aircraft handed over to the Civil Air Patrol or sold off to private owners. There are approximately 860 Navion aircraft that remain in an airworthy status today. 

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