Pictured is the Kelch Aviation Museum’s 1929 Stearman C3B, NC8811 after a day’s work with Atwood Crop Dusters in 1954.
Crop dusting was a dangerous business, and 8811 was involved in a forced landing on August 13, 1954. The pilot, Peter Grant (pictured) was applying a dust insecticide, Tetraethyl Pyrophosphate (TEPP), to a crop of strawberries near Watsonville, CA, when the engine quit. Grant landed in the field and was unhurt, but the plane hit a fence, flipped on its back and the unsecured chemical hopper door slid open, dousing him in powdered TEPP. He died from chemical poisoning three days later.
Al Kelch acquired NC8811 in 1979 in pieces, along with the remains of two other Atwood C3Bs that were in poor condition. Using parts from those two other planes, NC8811 was fully restored and flew once in 1997. Put into storage after Al Kelch’s death in 2004, it didn’t fly again until the Kelch Aviation Museum returned it to service in September 2016. It was displayed on the Vintage center stage in 2017 at the EAA Oshkosh fly-in