Vicky Benzing’s 1940 Boeing Stearman was manufactured for use as a military trainer in WWII. In February 1946, after the war ended, it was sold from the War Assets Administration for $770. The plane’s new owner fitted it with a 450HP Pratt & Whitney R985 engine and converted it to a crop duster for spraying operations in the Sacramento Valley until 1973 when it was disassembled and stored.
In 1990, the airplane was taken out of storage and restored by Stadel Aircraft based in Yuba City California. The airplane was converted back from a restricted category crop duster to a standard acrobatic category aircraft. Except for the engine and a smoke system, her airplane remains as originally built 75 years ago (i.e. two ailerons instead of four like most airshow aircraft, and no inverted fuel or oil – hence it takes 2 hands on the stick to roll it and she must keep positive g’s on the aircraft or the engine will quit). She considers herself a steward of this timeless piece of history. Benzing, who purchased the airplane in 1998, is based at Pine Mountain Lake Airport near Yosemite, California. She flies the Stearman at air shows up and down the West Coast, demonstrating the grace and beauty of flight in this early trainer.
Born and raised in California, Benzing is an accomplished pilot, skydiver, aerobatic performer, and air racer, with more than 7,000 flight hours and 1,200+ parachute jumps. Her flying career has spanned 30+ years, and she currently holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating as well as a commercial rating in helicopters, seaplanes, and gliders. She began training with air show legend and trainer to the stars, Wayne Handley in 2005, and holds a surface-level waiver and a formation card. She has flown 100+ air show performances across the U.S. To learn more about Vicky Benzing Aerosports, visit http://www.vickybenzing.com.