Wed, Jul 27, 2005
The Year of the Tri-Motor
By John Dorcey
The count stands at seven so far and hey, who knows, there may
be one or two more out there - anyone have a 727 available for a
flight to Oshkosh? Greg Herrick provides four examples of classic
The Stinson SM-6000-B, or to serious history buffs, the Stinson
"Model T" on display at AirVenture began working for Century
Airlines in March 1931. The aircraft was sold to American Airlines
in March 1932 and is the oldest example of an American Airlines
Over its working life NC11153 has flown under the liveries of
four airlines. The aircraft passed through a number of owners until
bought by Herrick in 1996.
This aircraft, serial number 5021, was manufactured in 1931 and
has suffered a few indignities in the 74 years since. Besides being
used as a crop duster and as a horse hauler in the late 1940s the
wings were 'metalized' adding 1600 pounds of aluminum.
The ground up restoration began in 1997 and from the outset the
goal was to have the finished product be as authentic as possible.
The tailwheel centering system is just one example of the exacting
detail used. Researching original Stinson drawings revealed that a
bracket was missing. The bracket was fabricated and installed as
part of the restoration.
The windshield is another example - looking closely at Stinson
files showed a special "American Airways" window drawing which
confirmed that the existing windshield was correct. Finally, the
paint scheme was studied. Planned to be used as a mail plane, the
original finish was not the same quality as found on passenger
John Underwood, aviation historian, provided photos of the
original paint scheme of NC11153 which were followed with the same
exacting methods. Today, after the painstakingly complete
restoration the aircraft looks better than it did on its first day
of airline service.
This specific aircraft flew in the 2003 National Air Tour.
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