By Adam Estes

As the sun set over Chino on February 24th, 2024, two aircraft in formation approached the airport to land on runway 26 Right, and taxied to the Planes of Fame Air Museum. For one of the two aircraft, a Vultee BT-13B Valiant, it was just another flight while the other aircraft in the formation, a Boeing-Stearman PT-17, was arriving at its new home.

Planes of Fame’s new Stearman inside the Edward T. Maloney Hangar. [Photo by Adam Estes]


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The Planes of Fame’s new Stearman was constructed as PT-17 manufacturing number 75-2305 and delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (as serial number 41-8746) on October 13th, 1941. The aircraft was one of thousands of the type that helped pilots cadets earn their wings to fly in World War II, flying primarily from Dorr Field near Arcadia, Florida. Dorr Field was managed by Embry-Riddle on behalf of the USAAF, and also trained flying cadets of the Royal Air Force. After the war, 41-8746 was one of many that were now available on the surplus market and, by the time it received its current registration of N555BF, it had been painted as a Navy N2S-4 with an overall yellow scheme. By 1996 the aircraft was part of the Santa Monica Museum of Flying’s collection and was seen at numerous local airshows in the Los Angeles area, where locals called it Triple Nickel. Eventually the aircraft was acquired by a well-respected plastic surgeon and pilot, Randy “Doc” Sherman, MD.

In addition to being director of the Cedars-Sinai Division of Plastic Surgery in Los Angeles, Dr. Sherman was renowned in the medical field for his philanthropic efforts with organizations such as Operation Smile, which continues to provide surgical care for children around the world affected by cleft lips and palates (in fact, Dr. Sherman would conduct or supervise many of these surgeries himself), and was an FAA-designated senior aviation medical examiner. Dr. Sherman was also on the board of directors for the Santa Monica Museum of Flying, the Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana, California, and the American Air Museum at Duxford, England. He was also director of development for the Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force based in Camarillo, where Sherman and his Stearman were a common sight around the museum. Sadly Dr. Randy Sherman was killed in the crash of a Cessna 310 shortly after takeoff from Santa Fe, New Mexico on July 18th, 2023.


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In honor of his love and passion for aviation, Dr. Sherman’s family donated his prized Stearman to the Planes of Fame Air Museum. At the controls of the Stearman on the flight to its new home was veteran pilot and mechanic Robbie Patterson, with Mark Moodie flying off his wing in the Vultee. The aircraft is now safely in the museum’s hangars, and will likely be a part of future events at the museum for years to come.

To learn more about the Stearman and the Planes of Fame Air Museum, visit the museum’s website here.

[Photo by Craig Bryant via Planes of Fame Air Museum]