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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Richard J. McWhorter Stearman Collection

Identifier: 2010-06-06
The Richard J. McWhorter Stearman Collection includes textual materials and approximately three hundred (300) photographs documenting the restoration of the Museum of Flight's Stearman C-3B as well as McWhorter's Stearman C-3R. It also includes additional negatives, slides, assorted ephemera, such as decals, and two reels of film, as well as a large painting of the Stearman C-3B in fight as an air mail plane, done by John Amendola.

The collection is organized into two series, I. Textual materials and II. Photographs and Audio-visual materials.

The Textual Materials series consists of a large amount of 1974-1976 correspondence between McWhorter and Western Airlines about the restoration of the Stearman C-3B, including paint color and markings. It also discusses the inclusion of the C-3B in the upcoming Western Airlines Bicentennial celebration and re-creation of C.A.M. 12. The correspondence includes letters, memo slips, invoices, and greeting cards from various Western Airline personnel, including Pat Navratil, Dave Jimenez, Pat Tomlin, and Linda Cole. There is also correspondence following the Bicentennial event, as well as materials from the event, such as a program, map of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and six (6) C.A.M. 12 Bicentennial Air Mail covers; three (3) are signed by Richard McWhorter.

Additional materials include assorted ephemera, such as Stearman decals in varying sizes, a 1980 wall calendar, certificates, and publications and clippings.

The bulk of the collection is photographs in Series II. Primarily color snapshots, the photographs extensively document the restoration process of the Stearman C-3R (#NC656K) and Stearman C-3B (#NC7550), as well as post-restoration, including shots of both planes flying. There are also snapshots of the C-3B arrival and permanent exhibit at The Museum of Flight. The photographs range in size from 3x5" to 8x10" and some include very brief captions on the back of image. Some photographs include people, including Dick McWhorter. Additionally, there color slides, negatives, and negative strips featuring both Stearman aircraft. There are also other aircraft featured, including a Douglas M-2, and other Stearman models, like the C-3H, the C-3L, and the C-3P. Some early airlines are also featured, including Barrett Airways, National Parks Airways, Inc. and Western Air Express.

Two reels of 16mm motion picture film at the end of the collection depict the Western Airlines celebration and promotion (C.A.M. 12 Bicentennial) using the Stearman C-3B. One is from the Public Relations Department of Western Airlines for Richard McWhorter and the other was produced by the Cally Curtis Company of Hollywood, CA for Richard McWhorter.


  • 1927-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1960 - 1979


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


0.85 Cubic Feet (1 full-width letter size document box, 1 flat box, and 1 oversize folder )


Richard J. McWhorter (1921-2007) was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho and had a long standing and multi-faceted interest in aviation, including owning and restoring vintage airplanes. The collection includes manuscript materials, ephemera, audio-visual materials, and approximately three hundred (300) photographs documenting the restoration of a Stearman C-3B (#NC7550), on display at The Museum of Flight, as well as a Stearman C-3R (#NC656K).

Biographical Note: Richard J. McWhorter

Richard J. McWhorter was born on July 28, 1921 in Idaho Falls, Idaho. McWhorter was the grandson of Lucullus Virgil McWhorter, a Native American historian, who moved from West Viriginia to Yakima, Washington and started a ranch near the Yakima tribe.

McWhorter served in the United States Army during World War II (September 20, 1943-August 17, 1946) as a 1st Lieutenant in the Southern Philippines and New Guinea. After the war he came back to the family cattle ranch in Prosser, Washington. Commonly referred to as "RJ" or "Dick" by family and friends, he had a long standing and multi-faceted interest in aviation, including owning and restoring many aircraft. He was an A

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated in 2010 by McWhorter's daughter, Molly Jane Kovacich.

Related Archival Materials at Other Institutions

There are four collections related to McWhorter's grandfather, Lucullus Virgil McWhorter, a historian who focused on chronicling the history of the Nez Percé and Yakima tribes in Washington (state), within the Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC) at Washington State University Libraries:

  • Lucullus Virgil McWhorter Papers, 1848-1945 (Cage 55)
  • L. V. McWhorter Photograph Collection (PC 85)
  • L. V. McWhorter Native American Artifact Digital Collection
  • WSU Museum of Anthropology L. V. McWhorter Collection Administrative Records, circa 1959-1999
  • Related Archival Materials at The Museum of Flight The Stearman (1927) Model C-3B Sport Commercial (NC7550) restored by Richard McWhorter is on display at The Museum of Flight in the Great Gallery.

    Separated Materials

    The following materials were separated from the archival component and are kept in the library:
    • Antique Airplane Association News, Vol. VII, No. 7, March 1964
    • The Antiquer, July 1965
    • Aviation History, September 2004
    The following materials were separated from the archival component and are kept in Objects storage:
    • Beechcraft Bonaza model on plastic stand
    • Stearman C-3B model in vitrine.

    Processing Information

    During original processing, a cardboard photograph album was disassembled and discarded due to the poor condition. The photographs were removed and integrated into the collection. Additionally, a large photograph of Richard McWhorter flying the Stearman C-3B (#NC7550) was unframed for preservation reasons and integrated into the collection.
    Guide to the Richard J. McWhorter Stearman Collection
    Completed - Level 4
    A. Enders, J. Parent
    October 9, 2014
    Description rules
    Language of description
    Edition statement
    2nd Edition

    Revision Statements

    • 2018: This finding aid has been revised to reflect updated DACS and Museum of Flight standards.
    • November 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.

    Repository Details

    Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

    9404 East Marginal Way South
    Seattle Washington 98108-4097

    The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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