Give Our PT-17 Stearman a Future

When the CAF-Big Easy Wing started this fundraiser campaign about a month ago, The Big Easy Wing wanted to highlight the need for restoration.  Once the CAF provided us with this aircraft, it became our wing’s obligation to preserve her living history for future generations to come. As stated in our very first article we are the proud caretaker of this iconic biplane that served as the basic trainer for the men and women of the “Greatest Generation.”

Over the last few weeks, information about Our Lady’s previous owners have been presented.  A veteran of the “Greatest Generation,” owned her for several years. Dave Oreck who was a WWII veteran who served in the Pacific as a certified pilot, navigator, and bombardier for two years and later in life became an entrepreneur bought the Stearman in August of 1994 from John Collier of South Carolina.

Oreck has a great love for aircraft.  He not only owned our Stearman but several other aircraft.  In one of his many interviews, he has given over time, Oreck stated that “Flying for me is more than a get-away experience; … It’s always a learning experience. Whatever experience you had yesterday doesn’t count for today. Today is a totally different situation. Flying keeps you alert. There’s that old slogan: ‘There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.” At one time Mr. Oreck and Bill Elder were co-owners of our Stearman.

Dave and his wife Jan still reside in New Orleans. They also still have their home in Poplarville.  Last year, our unit leader, Dave Capo, and Erin Seidemann visited the Oreck family at their home in Poplarville. I have corresponded with Jan and Dave Oreck several times.  She has indicated that they would like to come and visit our hangar. Also, they have indicated that they would like to donate their model of the Stearman (see photo)

By contributing to the Commemorative Air Force-Big Easy Wing fundraiser:

  • You will be helping our Wing restore this classic aircraft. We want to educate the public about how instrumental this aircraft was in the training of WWII pilots. And, we would like to showcase this aircraft at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport.
  • You will help us put this iconic aircraft back in the sky. There are Stearman Fly -ins all over the United States—best know is the National Stearman Fly In, Galesburg, Illinois which is held every Labor Day weekend but even closer in Jefferson Davis, Louisiana there is the Jennings Stearman Fly-In which occurs in October. With our engine repaired, we will be able to participate at these events.  We will be a part of a group that provides opportunities to the public to experience her radial engine and her open cockpit.  And just perhaps in the future, we will have a Stearman Fly-In at Lakefront Airport.

Please help us return this iconic Lady back to the sky in her full glory by contributing to this fundraiser.  As a unit of the CAF, we want to start educating our community on the significant role that the Stearman played in training pilots for WWII and provide them with the thrill of riding in an open cockpit.  Through your generous donation, we can make this happen.  Thanks for considering us! Every amount donated helps the cause. As you know the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is a 501 (c) 3.

We need you!  If you would prefer to mail a check, then please send to CAF-Big Easy Wing 8550 Lloyd Stearman Blvd New Orleans, LA 7012 or you may visit our website and donate there.

If you would like to know more about Dave Oreck, you can check out the websites:


“David Oreck Moves the Air” by AJ Staff Writer for Airport Journal (retrieved December 17, 2018)

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