In early March I got a call from a gentleman named Thom Mitchell. He’s from Vermont and is researching a restoration done by Mitch Spencer of Rutland. Thom was trying to find a Stearman that was originally issued to the Tuskeegee Airmen, and was reported to be displayed in a 1998 exhibit at the Smithsonian.
Thom found our phone number through a web search, and was originally looking for EAA Headquarters. It appears that our chapter site gets pretty high rankings in some searches. I told him I would give it a try to find the plane. I felt like the people on the PBS program History Detectives.
I learned that the plane is at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT. I did a bit more looking around, and see that it is actually owned by the Smithsonian, and on loan to the NEAM.
From what I read, Mitch intended to have the plane at the Smithsonian for a Black Aviators exhibit in 1998, but it looks like his car accident, which killed him, happened while he was still obtaining parts for the restoration. I couldn’t find information on the details of that particular exhibit, but it looks like the plane may not have been ready in time.
Here’s an article about an earlier incident when his car was stolen while it was full of parts and records on the plane.
There is a plaque for Mitch on the EAA Memorial Wall in Oshkosh.
It looks like there are only two other planes still in existence that are know to have been assigned to a Tuskegee group.