It was love at first sight. I was smitten as soon as I set eyes on the big, red Boeing Stearman bi-plane. Greg had a date for a stunt ride in this wonderful airplane and while he was getting suited up for the ride of his life, “Lilly Warra” and I got acquainted.
She is both beautiful and awe inspiring.
With thick bulldog-like front struts and fat front tyres, she sits on her tail wheel haunches and waits. Her body is like a long missile; the cockpits are deep and open.Two wings, made from fabric, sit one above the other and are stabilised by wires and struts.
The seven cylinder radial engine sits behind a Sensenich hand-built, wooden fixed-pitch propeller. With a 95 mile per hour cruise speed ”Lilly Warra’ is both predictable and stable.
This airplane has a distinguished past. Built in 1943 by Boeing in Wichita, she has been lovingly restored. Originally a military pilot trainer in Alabama during WW11, she was found and purchased by the Clark family, from ‘Southern Biplane Adventures’ based at Illawarra Regional Airport.
Her job now is to deliver thrilling stunt rides and scenic tours. Chris Clark is the chief pilot – a highly skilled aerobatics pilot who obviously loves his job!
Once Greg was all harnessed in, Chris brought the beautiful bi-plane to life. She sounds so good. It’s was a joy to watch her taxi off into the shimmery airstrip haze. Her short take-off capability is amazing!
Alas, our time there was over so quickly. I grabbed a coffee while they were in the air and got back just in time to see them land and taxi in. Greg had a smile from ear to ear for the rest of the day. He reckons all his internal organs have been rearranged, especially after the 4G ‘dive to the ground and loop back up’ manoeuvre. A total blast!
Check out the website: http://www.southernbiplanes.com.au and book a flight! The DVD of the days ride that they offer is also excellent and well worth buying.