Share This Article

An American Adventure: From Early Aviation Through Three Wars to the White House

by William Lloyd Stearman, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Md., 2012, $37.95

Pioneering aircraft designer Lloyd Stearman will forever be known for the iconic biplane trainer of World War II vintage that bears his name. Until now, anyone who wanted information on the man and machine turned to the three quasi-classics by Peter Bowers, Jim Avis/Martin Bowman and Ed Phillips. With the recent release of a memoir by William Stearman, Lloyd’s son, we have another valuable source.

Flying enthusiasts and Stearman devotees will appreciate the first part of the book, which provides insights that only someone who grew up in the Stearman household could supply. Lloyd’s early business partners included aviation giants Clyde Cessna and Walter Beech. Eventually, Lloyd became president of Lockheed, but was forced out during the Depression, only to return a couple decades later as a design engineer.

Toward the end of this fascinating tale, William Stearman offers a charming anecdote from his own career as a foreign policy adviser in the George H.W. Bush White House. He recalls that the president liked to talk “mostly about his adventures as a naval aviation cadet during World War II learning to fly Stearmans….”


Originally published in the September 2012 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.