This Boeing N2S-3 Stearman Kaydet is a two-seater bi-plane was able to quickly separate the men from the boys during flight training for the U.S. Navy (and the U.S. Army Air Corps as the PT-13/-17) during the 1930s and 1940s. Many Kaydets are still flying today.
Our Stearman is known as the “Bush Stearman.” President George H.W. Bush soloed in this aircraft on December 15, 1942, while participating in flight training at Naval Air Station, Minneapolis, MN.
His flight logbook reflects tail numbers and flight hours of each plane flown during flight training.
George H.W. Bush was commissioned ensign June 1943, making him the youngest naval aviator at the time (18 years old). His TBM was hit near Chichi Jima requiring him to bail out. H.W. Bush flew 58 missions, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation aboard USS Jacinto.
This N2S-3 Stearman Kaydet was flown by President George H.W. Bush on December 15, 1942, during his flight training at Naval Air Station, Minneapolis, MN. In June 1943, he was commissioned as an Officer and Pilot in the Navy at that time.
Built by the Stearman Aircraft Division of the Boeing Company in Wichita, Kansas, a simple and sturdy design made the N2S-3 Kaydet an ideal trainer for beginner pilots in the U.S. Army and Navy. The bi-plane was constructed with canvas stretched over a steel-framed body and wood-framed wings. Boeing built 8,584 Kaydets, in all, with an additional 2,000 similar aircraft as spares. The Kaydet was used in countries across North America, Asia, and South America in both military and civilian roles.
During its restoration process, this aircraft was confirmed to have been flown by President George H.W. Bush during his training at Naval Air Station, Minneapolis. To validate the identity of a WWII Navy Stearman, you must match the Navy serial number, manufacturer’s serial number, and the FAA N-number. With FAA Aircraft Registry Office in Oklahoma City, the NBA database, and the National Air and Space Museum, the hunt uncovered five biplanes flown by President Bush during training at NAS Minneapolis.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum’s permanent aircraft collection contains two aircraft related to the wartime service of President Bush. The TBM Avenger, currently in our Restoration Shop will be painted with the markings of the Avenger flown by President Bush as a pilot with VT-51 on USS Jacinta. While piloting his aircraft over the island of Chichi Jima 150 miles north of Iwo Jima, the aircraft took anti-aircraft fire and burst into flames. Bush ordered his crew to bail and waited in a raft until rescued by the submarine USS Finback after hours on the water.
The Bush Stearman has been generously donated by Mary Meyland in honor of her father, Bob Meyland.