America's entry into the war brought with it massive requirements for pilot training and so both the US army and Navy purchased thousands of Stearmans, as almost all trainee pilots in this period undertook their initial training in either the PT13 or Continental powered PT17 model.
After the war, the Stearman's rugged construction and good low speed handling saw large numbers converted for agricultural spraying work.
In total, some 8584 planes were built and it is estimated that today some 200+ are still airworthy and being flown by private owners.
The McQueen Stearman
It was in early 1979 that McQueen decided he wanted to learn to fly.
Looking through Airplane Trader, he saw a bright yellow, Continental engined PT17. It was an ex Navy trainer in excellent condition. It was priced at $35,000.
Steve phoned the guy who owned it and told him to remove it from sale. He then set about learning to fly, enlisting the services of legendary test and aerobatic pilot, Sammy Mason.
McQueen was a naturally gifted pilot but dyslexia made the exams difficult for him. Despite his innate talent, his wife passed first. Steve got through his exams on only his third attempt.
To the end of his life in November 1980, McQueen lived for flying. It was a way to escape and perhaps to reconnect with his father, who had been a barnstormer pilot in the twenties.
The Bravo Delta replica
We have had just 25 examples made of this Boeing Stearman PT17.
Totally hand carved and painted, it is a terrifically detailed and lovingly crafted model of a truly special aircraft. This model has a wingspan of 17.25 inches.
The fact that this particular one was once owned by perhaps the greatest icon of cinema makes it, in our view, just a little bit more special.