This airplane landed twice at Tucson. First on January 25,
1936 flown by Nancy Harkness Love, and the second time on
January 28, 1936 piloted by Robert
M. Love. Image, below, of the big Staggerwing during
reconstruction, November 2002. Ranley Nelson (R), and your
NC14415 During Restoration, 2002
S/N 28, was manufactured on March 30, 1935, with a 225 HP
Jacobs L4 turning a wooden, two-blade Hartzell propeller. On
March 31, 1935, it sold to Inter City Airlines, Inc. of Boston,
MA, operated by Robert Love. Robert
special-ordered it in Berryloid Diana Cream and Stearman
Vermillion Red. Pilot Tom Colby, the owner of Berry Brothers, the maker of Berryloid paints, was a Register signer.
The Loves owned the Staggerwing for 28 months, during
which their post-nuptial flight took place. After
their stewardship, it changed hands eleven times. It
spent most of its life in the west before settling with its
current owner Ranley Nelson (left sidebar).
Original Wing Structure of NC14415
Image, above, shows the original wing of NC14415. Parts
of the elevators and ailerons can also be seen. Nelson rebuilt
the entire wing and flight control system, rather than reuse
the 1935 structures. Interestingly you can see remnants of
the Stearman Vermillion Red on some of the fittings. The
old, stripped cotton fabric showed Diana Cream as well as
NC14415 Original Interior Fabric Samples From Mr. Nelson's Collection
Image, left, of original upholstery samples used in the
new interior of NC14415: black and red leather and beige
wool. When new, this airplane must have been strikingly beautiful.
Nelson plans to make it that way again.
Much is written about Nancy Harkness
Love (not so much about Robert). Most
significantly, in WWII, she served as executive director
on the Ferrying Division staff. In war service, she
was the first woman to check out in the P-51. She
was the first woman to fly the B-25. All totaled,
she was proficient in eighteen types of military aircraft. She
was an aviation industry leader for many years, and championed
the recognition of WASPs as military veterans. They
gained recognition in 1977, shortly after Nancy’s death
in Florida on October 22, 1976.
Robert and Nancy's Staggerwing is under restoration at
shop, Airplane Makeovers,
at the Butler Farm Show Airport in Butler, PA. Fuselage
and control surfaces are now in fabric, and, given its place
among other restoration projects in his shop, Mr. Nelson
says it should be flying, “in a couple of years.” Addiltional photographs of NC14415 are at the link.
UPLOADED: 06/06/07 REVISED: 02/11/08