years after Dave Baxter finished his Starduster Too, son Dan
finished his matching version of the popular aerobatic
biplane, and they brought their biplane tag-team to EAA
AirVenture 2008. Photo by Dave Higdon
not all that unusual to see two identically painted airplanes of the
same type at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Chapter members often work on
projects at the same time, and similar paint jobs sometimes are part
of the mix.
close inspection of the propeller cards on Dan and Dave Baxterís
nearly identical, blue Starduster Toos reveals that Daveís biplane
is 18 years the senior of son Danís virtually new mount.
Dan, who spent a great deal of time in his fatherís plane and knew
the Starduster Too type well, there was not any question as to what
type of airplane he would build when he finally had the means and
had the time to do so.
always loved the airplane since the first time I ever saw one,"
Dan said. "Like a good-looking gal it has curves in all the
right places. It has what I kind of call airplane sex appeal."
faster airplanes; thereís ones that land slower and do all sorts
of other stuff," he added. "But I havenít found too many
that I thought were more attractive. The Starduster Too just has
some indefinable appeal. [Lou] Stolp, the guy who designed it, took
a lot of features from a lot of other aircraft and put them into the
right package, at the right proportions."
completed his airplane on June 12, 2007. He didnít make the trip
to AirVenture last year because he didnít have enough time on it.
possibly more interesting fact than the limited time on the airplane
last year was that Dan did not have a pilot certificate, something
he intended to work on once he completed the building project. Dan
has his certificate now, though he did take a somewhat unusual
training path to get it; he did virtually all of his training in the
brand new biplane, including his first solo and, on June 28 this
year, his private pilot checkride.
only 60 or so hours in his logbook, he launched in a two-plane
formation with his dad for the 20-hour trip to Oshkosh from their
respective homes in Oregon. Dan makes his home in Lake Oswego and
Dave makes his in St. Helenís.
are a few differences between the two planes. Daveís is equipped
with a four-cylinder Lycoming engine, while Danís has a much
larger IO-540 six-cylinder mill. With the larger engine Danís
mount is capable of aerobatics from level flight, while Daveís
requires a dive to build up the necessary airspeed.
it came time to paint the new plane there was no question that the
ship would sport the colors of its family partner.
lot of people said youíre lacking originality or creativity,"
Dan said. "Iíve always liked the paint job on [Daveís]
airplane, and Iíve always liked the paint job on the original [Starduster].
There are differences, but this paint job certainly is very strongly
influenced by the original."
asked why he chose the Starduster Too as a homebuilt project, Dave
Baxter shared a very special connection with the design.
lived right around the corner from Flabob airport," Dave said.
Flabob Airport in Riverside, California, is where Stolp built the
original Starduster Too, and the home of EAA Chapter 1.
hired Dave on as a welder.
used to have to push [the original Starduster Too] in and out of the
hangar every morning just to go to work," Dave reminisced.
plane is not his first homebuilt project. Prior to this airplane he
completed a Marquart MA-4 Lancer single-place biplane.
being completed in 1989, Daveís airplane now has nearly 2,200
hours on the airframe, and likely is the highest time Starduster Too
still flying. This is its eighth visit to EAA AirVenture. A map of
the United States in Daveís office documents the travels he and
the airplane have taken over its 19-year life.
to Dan, Dave is considered "Mr. Starduster" by many and is
a recognized world expert on the type. He maintains a history of the
design and is aware of 650 examples that have been completed. Dave
estimated around 500 are still flying. His advice is also sought by
builders everywhere, along with his services as a check airman.
two have had a lot of fun with the nearly identical craft.
Controllers have questioned the tail numbers, and FBO workers, used
to seeing Daveís plane, wondered how, when Dave taxied up in Danís
plane, the familiar bird got so shiny.
The two plan to visit a few more west coast fly-in events yet
this year and are considering a cross-country trek to Sun ín Fun
in the spring.