What aircraft was the most widely used model for training airplane pilots during World War II? Would you believe, an airplane named for one of the early pioneers of the aviation industry who came from rural Kansas?
In recent weeks we’ve learned about Clyde Cessna and Walter Beech, two of the three men who founded an airplane business in Wichita in 1924. Today we’ll learn about the third of those three: Lloyd Stearman, whose plane, the Stearman Kaydet, was the primary trainer for World War II pilots.
Lloyd Stearman was born in the rural Kiowa County town of Wellsford, Kansas in 1898. Wellsford had been a thriving community but faded away through the decades until it legally disincorporated. Other than the southeast Kansas town of Treece, which disbanded itself due to pollution problems in 2012, Wellsford was the last Kansas town to eliminate its legally incorporated status which it did in 1975. As of the town’s last official census in 1970, Wellsford had an official population of 9 people. Now, that’s rural.
Lloyd Stearman was born at Wellsford and went to school in Harper. While in grade school, he saw his first airplane, piloted by Clyde Cessna.