Doing the Biplane Shuffle

With the arrival of spring, its time to begin maintenance on some of the Kelch Aviation Museum airplanes ahead of the flying season. We will again fly the Curtiss-Wright Travel Air 12W, but we decided to bring one more aircraft back to life this season. After some discussion over the winter, we selected the 1928 Stearman C3B.

Al Kelch’s Stearman restoration was completed over 20 years ago by museum director Kent McMakin, but amazingly has only about 20 minutes of flying time on it, with the first and last flight taking place in 1994. Al apparently thought it was too valuable to operate. The directors and trustees have run the engine over the years to keep it loose and even told Al shortly before he passed away in 2004 that it would fly again some day. It has been a hangar queen for too long. Time to fly!

We decided that all future aircraft maintenance would be done in one of our new hangars at the north end of the field on the new museum property, so today was a day of Musical Airplanes, or as we called it, the Biplane Shuffle. The Butler Blackhawk was moved out of storage and the 12W and C3B were moved in. Next is to assemble tools and such to create a real shop, then the work can begin in the next few weeks.

Doing the "Biplane Shuffle" with the Stearman C3B, Butler Blackhawk and the Travel Air 12W, May 13, 2016.

Doing the “Biplane Shuffle” with the Stearman C3B, Butler Blackhawk and the Travel Air 12W, May 13, 2016.

Here’s a short video of the 12W startup today. As always, it belched little oil (ok, a lot of oil) then purred like a kitten…a kitten named Warner.