Ray Johnson’s Stearman aircraft featured on the cover of Trade-A-Plane publication

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Ray Johnson of Buffalo is very proud of his meticulously restored 1943 Boeing Stearman, Model E75N1 (most commonly just referred to as a Stearman) and he now has another feather in his cap because he and his airplane were the cover photo on the First July Issue of the internationally known aviation marketing publication called Trade-A-Plane.

Each issue of this publication, with its trademark yellow cover, features a photo and brief description of a unique or outstanding example of all things aeronautical. Being included in this select group of aircraft (and the people who have built, maintained or restored these aircraft) is an honor that very few achieve.

The Trade-A-Plane publication is a common item on the tables and desks of aviation companies and businesses around the world. It is a favorite of all pilots as they search the extensive listings of aircraft, parts and services for sale, looking for just the right part or the perfect airplane. Begun in 1937, Trade-A-Plane (and now its associated web resources) is the Christmas wish book of pilots everywhere!

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Ray personally rebuilt this beautiful Stearman over a 20-year period beginning in 1981. He took a tired, smelly crop duster (Ray described it as being “dirt dirty” when he started) and restored it into a “front row on the fly-in” example of a classic airplane.

Many of the parts used in the restoration, or connections to suppliers, or parts and services, were found through Trade-A-Plane. Ray notes that, in addition to the many valuable contacts he made through Trade-A-Plane, there were also many hours of enjoyable reading throughout the years and he credits Trade-A-Plane for helping him find employment on more than one occasion!

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Other recognitions of Ray and his work are the following awards or features: AirVenture Oshkosh 2002 as WWII Era Open Cockpit Biplane Runner-Up; National Stearman Fly-in at Galesburg 2002 Brush and Canvas Award; featured on the cover of 2010 Minnesota Airport Directory; featured on the cover and inside cover of the Stearman Flying Wire, August 2011, a quarterly publication of the Stearman Restorers Association. Details of the restoration are in a featured article, “Rebirth of a Minnesota Stearman,” the story by Ray about his restoration project as told to and submitted for publication by Wayne Flury.

Though this aircraft is an award winner, it’s far from being a hangar queen! Ray loves to give rides in the Stearman and keeps a log book of all his passengers, currently numbering well over 300. As a result of sharing his airplane and the unique experience of open-cockpit flying, plus his attendance support at many fly-in events, Ray and his airplane are well known throughout the state of Minnesota.

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Story by Wayne Flury

Photos by Greg Wanbaugh Studios

— Editor’s Note: Ray Johnson has kept the beautiful Stearman in his hangar at Buffalo Airport for many years. He can often be seen overhead, sharing a lovely afternoon or evening sky together with his favorite airplane.

The old saying goes that – A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever. The same can truthfully be said about the acclaim that Ray’s Stearman has gathered for well over a decade.

Fourteen years ago, Ray was pictured in the March 2000 edition of the National American Legion magazine. It was part of a front page article about Minnesota Legion Aviation Post 511, then operating from a hangar at Crystal Airport. Ray was pictured working on the legendary Pratt & Whitney 450 horsepower engine that would power his first flight in the restored Stearman later that year.

The May 2000 Edition of the Minnesota Flyer published a lengthy feature story and several photos entitled, “Ray’s Stearman.” The very detailed story about the Stearman restoration process. It was one of the Checkpoints series of articles by Richard A Coffey.

Then in December of 2000, Ray’s Stearman was the front cover photo on the Minnesota Flyer magazine.

More recently, the front cover of the December 2008 issue of Minnesota Flyer magazine featured a page-wide aerial photo looking down on the Cathedral of St. Paul, taken by Neil Hammer from the open cockpit of Ray’s Stearman flying over the Capitol City during the 150th anniversary of the State of Minnesota.

–Special thanks to Wayne Flury, Editor of the EAA Chapter 878 Newsletter at Maple Lake, for giving permission to reprint his fine story and also the photo of Ray and Wayne holding up a copy of Trade-A-Plane.

–Special thanks to Greg Wanbaugh, owner of Greg Wanbaugh Studio, www.wanbaugh.com, for giving us permission to publish the great photos of Ray’s Stearman and of Ray himself standing beside his beloved classic. Finally, the elegant cover photo gracing the front of Trade-A-Plane featured here was also taken as part of a series by Greg Wanbaugh.

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