Historic Airplane to be Centerpiece of New Veteran’s Memorial in Scottsdale

Tbird Stearman webOn April 27, Scottsdale Airport will welcome a Stearman PT-17 biplane, the same as those flown by student pilots at Thunderbird Field II (now Scottsdale Airport) during World War Two.

This aircraft will serve as the centerpiece of the new Thunderbird Field II Plaza and Memorial, which will be located at the new Scottsdale Airport Aviation Business Center slated for construction this summer. It serves as a monument and memorial to all veterans and the rich history of Scottsdale Airport.

The aircraft was purchased by the Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial Inc., a nonprofit 501(C) 3 company.

The Stearman should arrive around 1 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at Ross Aviation, located at Scottsdale Airport, 14600 N. Airport Drive (just south of its future permanent home) after leaving from Arkansas two days prior.

Residents interested in welcoming the crew and aircraft should RSVP to Thunderbird Veteran’s Memorial at 480-664-6604.

Unlike their modern counterparts, the average speed of this military trainer is expected to be around 85 miles per hour. It will be piloted on its final cross-country trip by Steve Ziomek, a former U.S. Coast Guard rescue pilot and Chairman of the Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial, and Mike Pfleger, a Scottsdale Honor Health emergency room physician and Commemorative Air Force pilot.

The route to Scottsdale will be:

  • Cotter, Arkansas
  • De Queen, Arkansas
  • Dallas, TX (Overnight)
  • Sweetwater, TX
  • Carlsbad, NM
  • Santa Teresa, NM (Overnight)
  • Safford, AZ
  • Scottsdale Airport

Over 10,000 Stearman trainers were built in the 1930s and 1940s, and less than 1,000 worldwide are still flying. The aircraft will arrive painted all yellow, but will be repainted in the traditional Army Air Corps blue and yellow found at Thunderbird Field II during its heyday.

Learn more about Scottsdale Airport’s historic origins as Thunderbird Field II.

Learn more about the Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial and how you can support the effort.