March 7, 2014
By Dave Hirschman
In a deal between two of the best-known U.S. antique aircraft restoration firms, Rare Aircraft has purchased Air Repair’s entire inventory of Stearman parts.
Rare Aircraft of Faribault, Minn., will begin producing Stearman PT-17 biplanes in the summer and make its first as-new aircraft deliveries in the fall. Air Repair of Cleveland, Miss., will continue supplying new and overhauled radial engines for them.
“All the Stearman parts, wings, STCs [supplemental type certificates], and PMAs [parts manufacturer approval] are coming here,” said Rare Aircraft founder Roy Redman, who said the massive inventory will require additional hangar space and likely additional skilled employees. “We’re probably going to be expanding our crew as a result.”
Rare Aircraft currently has 15 employees including Redman’s sons Jeremy and Ben and specializes in Waco biplane restorations. Air Repair and its owner Pete Jones have restored 143 Stearmans in the last three decades, converting dozens of former crop dusters into gleaming showpieces.
“Pete has created an icon, and he’s set a very high standard,” Redman said. “We’re going to carry on those traditions.”
Redman declined to set a price or production number for the custom Stearmans that Rare Aircraft will produce.
“We still have lots of Waco orders and we’re not going to diminish that part of our business,” he said. “We’ll make Stearmans to order, and we’ve already taken our first order.”
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
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