Getting Checked Out to Fly The LSW Stearman
To fly the Lone Star Wing Stearman you will need to accomplish the following:
- Become a CAF member. You can do this online via this page on the CAF HQ website: https://www.commemorativeairforce.org/pages/CAF%20membership
- Become a member of the Lone Star Wing. To accomplish this, please attend a meeting. We meet on the third Saturday of every month at 10am (unless something changes, in which case you will see a post regarding the new meeting time/date in the news section of this site). You can find directions to our wing (both for those flying in and those driving in) here.
- Obtain the required experience:
- 200 hours total time
- 30 hours in tailwheel aircraft in the last 12 months
- 80 landings in tailwheel aircraft in the last 12 months
- Sponsor the airplane ($1500 one time donation). Information on aircraft sponsorship is available here: https://www.commemorativeairforce.org/pages/Sponsor%20a%20CAF%20Aircraft
- Obtain a pilot transition letter. This process is initiated when our Operations Officer sends your pilot package to HQ. The most significant form is the CAF Form 601 - Flight Experience. Once you fill out that form and our Flight Evaluation Board approves your request to be checked out (right now we need pilots, so assuming you have the required experience you will most likely be approved) our ops officer will submit a request for a transition letter from HQ. You must have a transition letter before beginning flight training.
- Now the fun begins. Once you have you transition letter, flight training can begin. You need 15 hours in type to meet CAF minimums. If you bring Stearman time with you, that can count toward this amount. You will fly with one of our in-house Instructor Pilots out of our home base of Marshall, TX and the surrounding area for your training. You'll have a ton of fun and we guarantee you'll come out of the training a better stick-and-rudder pilot. This is what the Stearman was designed to do!
- Once you are checked out you can fly the airplane within the aircraft movement policy and you can participate in ride-selling activities (you will need a commercial certificate to sell rides and you'll need to pass a DOT drug test). We can review this policy when you get checked out, but essentially all flights must be in support of the CAF mission. If you are flying our Stearman and wearing a CAF flightsuit and are willing to show folks the airplane and educate them on why we do what we do...you are fulfilling the mission. It's not hard at all to educate people about these wonderful airplanes and the men and women who trained in them.
- Now for the money part:
- CAF membership - $200/yr
- Lone Star Wing dues - $50/yr
- Non-Owner's Insurance - $555/yr (as of Jan. 2020, this rate changes)
- Aircraft Sponsorship (tax deductible) - $1500 one-time donation. Like all donations to the LSW, this goes directly to pay for aircraft maintenance like tires, oil, repairs, etc.
- Dry aircraft cost per hour for personal flying and flight training - $150/hr tach time. Since we only have tach time you end up paying a bit less per hour of flight time. If you need the entire 15 hours of dual expect to spend about $1250 for your training...but it may be more or less depending on the tach time at the end of your 15 hours. The hourly cost is considered a donation so it may be tax deductible. Ask your CPA to be sure. If you participate in ride-selling or ferrying operations or any other LSW sponsored activity you do not pay this hourly rate to fly in those activities.
- Fuel costs - we pay for our own fuel when flying for training/currency/proficiency so you'll pay out of pocket for whatever fuel you need. Our Stearman burns about 13 gallons per hour.
As you can see, there are a few things to accomplish to get checked out. In the end, though, if you believe in the mission of the CAF "to operate, maintain and preserve these aircraft as symbols of our American military aviation heritage" this process is worth it. Everyone you meet while flying this airplane represents a story to learn and an opportunity to educate. Take a look at our gallery and see the smiles and joy folks experience around this airplane. Being a part of bringing that joy to someone is truly priceless. We look forward to meeting you and bringing you on board!