The goal was to get pictures of a Stearman doing a crosswind landing. It was for an article by Doug Rozendaal that eventually appeared in Twin and Turbine Magazine.
I hoped to get some ground shots of a few landings, but I got much more than that.
I just had to chuckle to myself.
There I was, heading up into the sky in
Paul Ehlen's Stearman on a sunny summer afternoon.
What, I ask you, could be better than that?
How did I get so lucky?
I guess I've got friends in high places.
My pal, Tim Barzen called
Paul Ehlen, who very generously made available his beautiful, pristine Stearman. But he was tied up and couldn't do the flying.
In stepped his friend, John Sinclair, and the next thing I know, we are heading west in the cool air of 4,000 feet.
There is a small grass airstrip just west of the metro area of Minneapolis. It's a perfect place to make crosswind landings. And wouldn't you know it, the wind was blowing directly across the field.
John Sinclair is a superb pilot and a real expert at the stick of a Stearman.
The Stearman Kaydet is an airplane's airplane. An icon of what a plane from the early years of aviation should look like. First produced in the mid 1930s, the U.S. Army and Navy bought a few dozen each to start with. By the end of production, over 10,000 Stearman were built in models 70 through 76.
You can buy a mug of this image, by clicking here.
John took off and made a circle of the field so I could shoot the plane from different angles. I felt like I had my own personal air show.

Wing Span: 32 feet 2 inches
Length: 24 feet 10 inches
Height: 9 feet 2 inches
I worked with this image to make it look old, it reminded me so much of the early images of aviation. The Stearman was one of the last biplanes produced for the U.S. military, but it proved its worth with sturdy construction and nimble flying characteristics.
John made several textbook crosswind landings for me; I wanted to be sure I got
it right and sharp as well. With propellor planes, you always walk a fine line between
stopping the propeller with a too-fast shutter speed, or getting a blurry shot from
having a too-slow shutter speed. For each type of plane, the speed is different.
A single windward wheel down first is a proper way to do a crosswind landing.
Maximium Speed: 124 mph
Ceiling: 11,200 feet
Range: 505 miles
Hope the cows don't mind!
John gave me the chance to see a crosswind landing through his eyes as well!
We made a steep bank coming back into Flying Cloud Airport and I could see the wooden construction of the wing flex a bit. It was a wonderful adventure and I can't wait to find myself in the front seat of a Stearman again!

For more information on the Stearman you can go to Warbird Alley.