Welcome to the Jimmy Allen Club
My historic biplane's name is Buddy, he is the oldest surviving Model 4 Junior Speedmail, having bee delivered to the Richfield Oil Company on October 28, 1929, by the stearman Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas. Reported to be Lloyd Stearman's favorite design, only 40 of the big "square-tailed" Model 4 Speedmails were ever produced. They were marketed by the Stearman factory to the public as fast and luxurious executive transports and mail planes for the lofty sum of $16,000.
From 1929 to 1937, Stearman NC667K was flown exclusively for the Richfield Oil Company as the flagship for its sponsorship of the Jimmie Allen Flying Club, which was based on the popular radio program The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen. The airplane was a true celebrity vehicle in the 30's, making public appearances across the West Coast and Midwest with "Jimmie Allen" in the front seat.
The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen was based on a young pilot who was a high-flying, crime-solving, international air-racing 16-year-old ready to embark on any adventure. Aviation was a growing trend in the 30s, and radio was the perfect medium to promote it as aspiring aviators flocked in droves to their local Richfield and Skelly service stations to obtain their “flight lessons” and request the club’s weekly printed newsletter.
More than 600,000 Jimmie Allen Flying Club members joined to receive the club’s weekly newspaper as well as games, cards, wings, emblems, patches, flight charts, and personalized letters from Jimmie himself. In fact, they could even buy model airplane kits at their local gas stations and build them to participate in the Jimmie Allen Air Races. Tens of thousands of fans showed up to watch young contestants race their model airplanes at airports across the country.
Fly through History . . .
30 Minute Ride Experience
$600 at the event
*Advance Reservation Recommended*
Call 863-701-6805 to Book
Experience the thrill and joy of an open cockpit journey in perhaps the most recognized trainer of all time, the Boeing-Stearman! You and the pilot will embark for a 15-20 minute ride and have the opportunity to enjoy the majestic journey of bi-plane flying.
I believe the most important legacy of the original Flying Club was that oil companies like Richfield and Skelly saw an opportunity to foster air-mindedness, to tap into kids’ imaginations and natural curiosity of flying things, and where they could take them. The radio series may be out-dated and corny by our standards today, but Richfield Oil Company was a leader in building relationships. They built a community of loyal brand followers by letting kids play with airplanes, dream about adventures, and listen to stories about another kid named Jimmie Allen.
Sponsors poured in and a movie, Sky Parade, was made, and eventually those kids grew up and younger ones started watching their air adventures on TV. The point is kids want to see and hear about other kids; they relate to their peers. They don’t want to hear about us. If you believe as I do that history’s greatest value is how we use it to connect to our present and learn from that connection, then you will see the obvious flight lesson here. We need to be very cautious in repeatedly reminding kids about our history, and we would be wiser in helping and encouraging them to make their own!
While Stearman NC667K is primarily remembered as the Jimmie Allen Flying Club plane, it also had a very important role promoting United States veterans and the American Legion. As official ship for the American Legion Aeronautics Division, Speedmail NC667K made appearances at veterans events around the United States, flown by Richfield Oil’s chief pilot and division chairman, Dudley M. Steele.