The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

September 3, 2013

World War II-era planes land in Osky

OSKALOOSA — On Friday afternoon, several World War II-era planes could be seen landing at the Oskaloosa Municipal Airport. The hum of their engines and brilliant flashing colors brought a past era to life.

In an e-mail to the Herald before Friday’s flight, Stephen Black, president of Friends of Naval Air Station Ottumwa, explained.

Black wrote that the Antique Airplane Association would be hauling mail from the Antique Airfield to the Ottumwa and Oskaloosa airports. This was to be done in celebration of the anniversaries of the Antique Airplane Association and the Ottumwa Naval Air Station, he wrote.

On Saturday morning, Black said that when the NAS Ottumwa was operating as a Naval base, there were a number of pastures used for training flights.

Black also pointed to the importance of mail delivery during the World War II era. He noted that, back in those days, letters often traveled by plane because the U.S. interstate system had not yet been done.

Steven Spector was among the pilots participating in Friday’s flight.

Spector, who flew a Navy Stearman biplane, said his plane was stationed at the Naval Air Station Ottumwa late in the war, moving to there in 1944.

Spector’s father purchased the plane in 1981 and his brother had it for a while, as well.

The plane was originally restored in 1981, noted Spector. Before that, it had been used as a crop duster.

After about 30 years passed, another restoration was done, said Spector.

“It’s in very good shape right now,” Spector said.

Bates Biplanes, of Faribault, Minn., also participated in Friday’s flight. Peggy, husband Dave, and their son David took to the skies.

Peggy said their Navy Stearman biplane was also stationed at the NAS in Ottumwa during World War II as a Naval trainer.

Dave said they purchased the plane back in 1978 as a crop sprayer.

“After the war, many of the Stearman were converted to be crop sprayers,” Dave explained.

Dave went on to note that it took 16 years to get his plane to the condition in which it’s in now. He explained the motivation for keeping and restoring a plane such as the one that was flown by his son Friday.

“I guess it’s no different than people with their antique Model A Fords celebrating the Ford car,” said Dave.

Remembering the vast amount of history involved with Stearman biplanes is also important, Dave said.

Dave said people like to “have the history and how things became passed on to the younger generations.”

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