The Stearman began life as a basic flight trainer for the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942, one of nearly 10,000 of its kind. More pilots have trained in the Stearman than in any other aircraft in history. In 1973 the aircraft was completely reconstructed. At this time the 220 horse power seven-cylinder engine was replaced with a nine-cylinder 450 horse power Pratt and Whitney Wasp Junior engine. It was also fitted with a fuel and oil system capable of sustained inverted flight, as well as a nine-foot propeller that is nearly supersonic throughout Gary’s air show performance.
Gary Rower began flying at age 16 from an apple orchard in upstate New York. Since that time he has accumulated more than 18,000 hours of flying all over the world.
While a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy he became a soaring instructor and was Captain of the USAF Academy Soaring Team. Following graduation from the Academy, Gary attended USAF pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma from which he was a Distinguished Graduate.
His assignment out of pilot training was to what was then the Air Force’s newest fighter, the F-16 Fighting Falcon. These were the early days of the F-16 and Gary was the 136th USAF pilot worldwide to achieve 1000 hours in the aircraft. During that time he became an instructor and flight evaluator, participated in several Red Flags and was awarded Top Gun.
In 1986 Gary left active duty and joined a major air line which he has now been flying with for 20 plus years. During the late 1980’s he continued flying the F-16 with the Air Force Reserve in Utah. He currently holds an Air Transport Pilot rating in the Boeing 767, 757, 737, DC-9 and Airbus 330 and flies to Europe and South America.
Gary started performing at air shows and entertaining audiences with his 1942 PT-17 Stearman in 2002. The show highlights Gary’s skills as a professional aerobatic pilot, and the way he performs in the Stearman as some spectators describe, “is like ballet in the air.”
The Stearman is large and loud, yet beautiful and graceful at the same time. Gary’s performance in this beautiful bird is filled with giant barnstormer loops, hammerhead turns, slow rolls, a Cuban eight, inverted flight, snap roll and one of his favorite maneuvers, the Outside Humpty Bump.
Gary now also performs a fantastic night show, and is the only open cockpit Stearman act to do so in North America. The beautiful maneuvers and signature sound of the Pratt & Whitney radial engine are magically enhanced by dramatic, state of the art lighting effects that are the ultimate evening addition to any airshow!