by Airman 1st Class Jessica B. Nelson
9th Reconnaissance WIng Public Affairs
10/1/2015 - Beale Air Force Base, Calif. -- For
the past three and a half years the Aerospace Museum of California and
its volunteers have displayed and maintained a very unique P-13
Stearman. The plane is owned by Lt. Col. Andrew McVicker, 9th Operations
Group deputy commander.
"The P-13 Stearman is open cockpit so typically flying it in the winter
isn't much fun," said McVicker. "Initially I envisioned just putting it
on loan through the winter but when I found out I was deploying in the
spring they offered to continue to store the plane for me while I was
As a gesture of appreciation for looking after his plane while he was
deployed, McVicker took eight museum volunteers flying in his P-13. The
first of which was a WWII veteran.
"I learned 72 years ago this month how to fly a Stearman when I was in the Army Air Corps," said Maynard Nelson, a WWII pilot.
Nelson served as a B-24 pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII. The
P-13 Stearman planes were used as trainers for all pilots, service wide.
Nelson reflected on his time flying the Stearman in an interview on
"You had to push the airplane to its limits," Nelson said. "You needed
to know everything the plane could do, and what enemy airplanes could do
so you could play your own strength in a dogfight."
The volunteers at the museum have watched over the P-13 for more than
three years. Most of them are veterans and share a special interest in
"The volunteers keep an eye on the plane, making sure delicate parts are
kept safe while people view the plane on display," McVicker said. "The
museum made a nice placard that tells the history of the aircraft and
how it was used when it was in military service, and the volunteers will
help interpret that for the visitors."
Many volunteers had personal experiences with the P-13 Stearman while
they served. The excitement the volunteers expressed when exiting the
cockpit after their flight was clear.
"It was very generous of McVicker to give us rides in his plane," Nelson
said. "I have hundreds of pictures of the people I've taken on flights
when I owned a Stearman, and the pictures just don't do justice to the