Bob Alden had the desire to fly a Stearman, but didn’t have the bank balance to match. So he’s in the process of doing the next best thing; with the help of Jim Robinson of Erie Airpark in Illinois, Bob is building his own mini-Stearman replica. It’s a Fisher Celebrity kit, but with a few differences—including a dummy front cockpit that looks like the student “classroom” in a Stearman. He’s also added stringers to the fuselage to give it a rounder shape, making it look more like a Stearman. Jim calls it “tubbing it out.” As fortune would have it, the stock Celebrity tail feathers happen to match up pretty well with what you’d find on the back end of a Stearman. A sign painter by trade, Jim did the paint for Bob, including hand painting the numbers. He used Latex house paint and said the whole job cost less than $150.
The crowning touch is the Rotec radial engine up front, which really gives Bob’s airplane the look of a pint-size Stearman. Bob is in the middle of moving his residence from Erie to Arizona, and Jim trucked the project here to AirVenture where it’s on display at the Rotec tent in the North Exhibit Display area. It’s worth a look. Once settled in his new home in Arizona, Bob intends to finish the wings and finalize the configuration of his project, which might involve shifting weight around to accommodate the shorter-coupled engine (perhaps moving the battery to the tail).
Phil Swenson also built a Rotec-powered Stearman look-alike Celebrity, and it was featured in the February 2007 issue of EAA Sport Pilot magazine.
When Bob’s version is done, he’ll have an eye-catching airplane that will turn heads on any ramp. The only downside will be that he can’t offer rides—as a one-place airplane, the dummy front cockpit is, unfortunately, only a teaser.