Vintage War Bird Near Completion

By Eric Olson

February 2, 2012 Updated Feb 2, 2012 at 4:49 PM EDT

AUBURN, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)-The last time we stopped by Phil Allison’s shop in Auburn he was rebuilding the wings of a vintage Stearman biplane he was restoring, the stripped carcass of which sat patiently at a hanger at DeKalb County Airport. What a difference a couple of years can make.

The fuselage is covered and painted, the big radial engine is mounted and those wings Phil was working on are finished and awaiting paint. Phil says in six months his seven year long project will be back in the air. The Stearman pt13 was designed in the 1930’s and trained thousands of American pilots in the Second World War. Reliable, forgiving and bulletproof the Stearman perhaps more than any other aircraft helped win the war.

“There’s been a lot of publicity the last week or so about the Tuskegee Airmen, The Red Tails,” says Phil. . The Stearman is what they learned in down in Tuskegee.”

Rebuilding his war bird’s been a battle for phil. Every nut, every bolt, every piece of this airplane has been refurbished. Just stitching the fabric on those wings took a toll.

“I had lots of blisters,” says Phil. “I still get cramps in my left hand and I’ve been done for almost three months on the covering.”

This summer all the hardship will be forgotten though, when Phil climbs into his vintage war bird, flips that switch and slips the surly bonds of earth, restoring a precious piece of American history to its proper position in space and time. Eric Olson reporting, out in Your Country.

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