LLOYD STEARMAN

When Lloyd Stearman joined forces in 1925 with Walter Beech and Clyde Cessna to form the Travel Air Manufacturing Company, one of several early airplane manufacturers that set their roots in Wichita, Kansas, no one could have expected that each one of them would quickly move on to become successful independent airplane designers. After a quick stint in Venice, California, Stearman founded Stearman Aircraft Corporation in Wichita in 1927, successfully designing and building the C-3, which was used for transporting mail and passengers. In 1929, like many aviation businesses of the era, Stearman Aircraft was absorbed, by United Aircraft and Transportation Corporation, owned by William Boeing, and the company later became a division of Boeing. While Stearman left his company in 1931, his drawings were the basis for the successful Stearman Kaydet military trainer, of which Boeing built more than 8,500 in the late 1930s and early 1940s. And Stearman himself didn’t quit the business. He worked for several companies, including Lockheed Aircraft Company, designing airplanes and spacecraft until he died in 1975.