The first flight of the N2S occurred on September 30, 1940.
The airplane was officially named the Kaydet, but few referred to the biplane trainer by that name. Instead it was universally called the Stearman after its original manufacturer. The company designed the airplane as a private venture and, after becoming a subsidiary of Boeing Aircraft Company, ended up producing more than 10,000 examples, including over 4,000 for delivery to the U.S. Navy. Because of their high-visibility paint scheme, like other Navy primary trainers they were also commonly referred to as Yellow Perils.
The N2S embodied all the necessary requirements of a primary trainer in its reliability, simplicity, durability and forgiving nature. For a generation of Naval Aviators it provided the first taste of flying, one recalling the thrill of being in an open cockpit “the purest experience of flight possible.”
The Museum’s Aircraft:
Following their widespread use as primary trainers during World War II, many N2S biplanes were purchased by private owners for use as crop-dusters. In 1990, with President George H.W. Bush in office, various parties initiated a search to locate any N2Ss still in existence that in their previous military service may have been flown by the Commander-in-Chief during World War II. Cross-checking the President’s log book entries with the records of various federal agencies revealed that five N2S-3 aircraft flown by Bush at Naval Air Station (NAS) Minneapolis, Minnesota, still existed in private hands.
Among them was the aircraft owned by former World War II and Korean War pilot and retired TWA Captain Jack Parker of Essex, Connecticut. His aircraft logged two flights with the Aviation Cadet George H.W. Bush at the controls in January 1943, and finished the war with 2,860 flight hours on the airframe. After World War II, it operated with Terry’s Aircraft Sales and Surplus and after purchase by Parker, towed banners and flew at warbird gatherings.
The museum acquired the aircraft from Parker in 1992.