Stanley II offers glimpse of real aviation history

Local news reporter Michael Gold met with Steve Oliver, a full time air show pilot, to discover a unique entertainment option for local residents and visitors that includes a special history lesson not regularly learned in St. Augustine.

“After an 8 year rebuild project, Stanley II, flies again,” Oliver said. “The plane has the heart, soul and baggage door of the original plane — all else is new.”

The Oliver’s Flying Circus famous 1929 New Standard D-25 will be offering airplane rides at the St. Augustine airport this weekend. Oliver said that he travels the country, in different locations week to week, and often travels to other counties teaching others about his historic aircraft.

Oliver stressed that Stanley II is not a “replica” or “kit airplane”. Oliver said, “Our plane is one of only 54 aircraft of its type ever built and it was designed specifically for the Gates Flying Circus in 1929.”

Americans were wild about aviation in the 1920’s and ’30s — the period between the two world wars that came to be known as the Golden Age of Flight. Air races and daring record-setting flights dominated the news.

“Stanley II is authentic in every respect,” Oliver said. “It is the oldest of the 6 originals still left flying.” Soon after the Stanley II was originally manufactured, airplanes evolved from wood-and-fabric biplanes to streamlined metal monoplanes.

Carrying up to 4 passengers at a time, the rebuilt New Standard D-25 biplane, once used for crop dusting then discovered by Oliver in a condition of disrepair, allows 2 couples or mom and dad and 2 kids to experience the magic of open cockpit flight.

Steve is not the only “Flying Oliver”, either. He told Historic City News that his wife, Suzanne, is the world’s most experienced skywriter.

Suzanne flew for Pepsi for 20 years and the plane that she flew now hangs from the ceiling of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Consider visiting the airport this weekend, only, to share the magic and find out about the unique history of this aircraft.

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