Restoration of the CAF Utah Wing’s N2S Kaydet Moving Along Quickly

Utah Wing Boeing PT-17_N2S Stearman

The Commemorative Air Force’s Utah Wing is making rapid progress with the restoration of their Boeing-Stearman N2S Kaydet in their  hangar at Russ McDonald Field in Heber City, Utah. Their Kaydet rolled off the production line in Wichita, Kansas during 1941. She served as a trainer with the US Navy at NAS Corpus Christi in Texas during WWII. After the war, the government sold her on, and she soon took up civilian duties as a crop duster. By 1980, the Kaydet had joined the air show circuit following a complete restoration back to military configuration with a new owner. Sadly, the aircraft suffered major damage during a cross country flight to California in August, 1986. She crashed into trees in the Oquirrp Mountains near Salt Lake Valley. Luckily, the CAF’s Utah Wing purchased the wreck, and set about a complete restoration, which they completed in 1988. Now registered as N1387V, the Kaydet has flown regularly ever since. She has attended countless air shows, given hundreds of rides to members of the public, and honored veterans in numerous parades and other such events. After nearly 30 years of near continuous flying, the Utah Wing decided the N2S needed some TLC, and began a thorough overhaul on November 1st, 2015 with the removal of her wings. To prevent the aircraft from being down during air show season, the Utah Wing planned her restoration in stages, repairing specific components during winter maintenance, before re-installing them in time for the aircraft to participate in the next year’s flying events.

3 old fabric off

The original plan was to restore the lower wings this winter, the upper wings during the following winter, and then the fuselage and control surfaces during the winter after that. However, stripping the lower wings of their fabric revealed less damage than expected, and the strong volunteer turnout expedited progress with the repairs. Steve Guenard, the Utah Wing’s leader remarked, “The bottom wings were in pretty good shape. We had some minor water damage on the trailing edges, and a few gussets had to be replaced, but other than that we were ready to cover.” Volunteers began re-covering the lower wings on December 1st and completed their task by the end of the year. Dave’s Custom Sheetmetal, also located at Russ McDonald Field, began repainting the wings soon after.

“Our volunteers weren’t ready to quit!” said Beth Ann Schneider, Project Manager. “‘Bring it on’, they said, and so we did!” The volunteers removed the old fabric from the upper wings on January 2nd, and were happy to find the wooden ribs and spars in perfect condition. They began recovering the wings immediately and had completed their efforts within a short time. The upper wings are now awaiting their turn in the paint shop. Schneider noted that, “We have had an unbelievable amount of volunteer support from our unit for this project. It has moved beyond the restoration of a very cool historic airplane. Friendships have formed and our membership has unified around a common cause. They are anxious to get started on the final phase of the restoration.”

11 measuring tapes copy

The restoration team plans to re-install N1387V’s wings in the next few months and get her flying again shortly thereafter. The Kaydet is already scheduled to attend a number of air shows this summer, and she is a popular choice with the public for rides, not to mention parade and cemetery flyovers. The N2S will also participate in a few local events at Russ McDonald Field. The overhaul process for the rest of the aircraft will begin following the 2016 air show season. The wings will come off again on November 1st, so that the fuselage can receive attention. The restoration team will strip it down to its basic components, sand-blasting the steel-tube frame, and repairing where necessary. They will then begin the reassembly process, with fresh wiring and a new exhaust system already planned as part of the effort. The team hopes to have completed re-covering the fuselage and control surfaces by March 2017; a full year ahead of schedule. This project is partially funded by a grant from the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Park City Rotary Club, the Jack Wells family, and Watts Enterprises and has received sponsorship from Polyfiber Aircraft Coatings of Riverside, California.

If you would like to donate to this project visit www.cafutahwing.org/

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