Vultee aircraft BT-15 valiant

Basic Info

Manufacturer Construction Number: 9536
Army Air Force Serial Number: 42-41689
Military Purchase Price: $16,971
Civilian Registration Number: N69987
Original Civilian Purchase Price: $200

Model Background

The BT-15 was used as a basic training aircraft for the USAAF and the US Navy.  Basic trainers were used as the second step of flight training during the WWII.  Basic trainers had more powerful engines, variable pitch propellors, and flaps.

There are two basic variants of this aircraft, the BT-13 and the BT-15.  The difference between the variants was the engine.  The BT-15 used a 450hp Wright R-975-11 engine instead of the 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 used on the BT-13.  The US Navy also used the BT-13, but the Navy designated this type the SNV.

History of this example:

Military History
29 March 1943 Manufactured by Vultee Aircraft, Downey CA and received by the USAAF
March 1943 To AAF Basic Pilot Training School (Air Training Command), Gunter AAF AL
  • Gunter Field as it was in World War II is now gone and part of the larger Maxwell AFB in Alabama which is located near Montgomery.
May 1943 To 554th AAF Base Unit (AAF Ferrying Command), Love Field, Dallas TX
August 1944 To 4117th AAF Base Unit (Air Materiel Command), Robins AAF, GA (storage)
September 1944 Dropped from inventory as salvage
Civilian History 
29 June 1946 After being released as excess inventory by the War Assets Administration by C. Christian, it was purchased by LaVern Pfeifer of Stillwater, Minnesota for $200.
  • To view the original Bill of Sale, click here.
  • It is unknown if it was ever flown by LaVern as the civilian log doesn’t begin August 24, 1946.
  • LaVern Pfeifer died in 2001 and still lived in the Stillwater area at the time of his death.
24 July 1946 LaVern resold the aircraft to Harold G Sommers, a student pilot born in 1896, and living in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. Harold paid $600 and registered the BT-15 as NC69987.  Harold G. Sommers is the son of George Sommers, one of the founders of G. Sommers and Co which was one of the largest catalog distributors in the country in the early 1900’s Harold’s uncle Charles L. Sommers – in addition to being one of the other founders of G. Sommers and Co – was also a well known Minnesota Boy Scout Leader. Charles L. Sommers was instrumental in the formation of the oldest of Boy Scouts of America’s national high adventure bases.  The Northern Tier – Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base in Ely, Minnesota is named in his honor.
  • Registration applied for on July 26, 1946 and issued on July 26, 1946.
  • Certificate of ownership dated August 13, 1946.
  • First civilian log entry on August 24, 1946 shows 1169 hours and 55 min.
  • The logs don’t show any flights while under Harold’s ownership.
10 March 1947 N69987 was sold Thomas H North of North Aviation, Co. in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
  • Registration issued March 24, 1947.
  • First civilian flight logged in the airplane on April 24, 1947 for 1 hour. Total time 1170 hours and 55 minutes.
  • The last logged flight while the airplane was owned by North was January 25, 1948 for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Total time at time of sale is 1212 hours and 15 min.
  • North Aviation was based at the old Northport Airport in White Bear Lake which closed sometime around 1988-1989.
31 January 1948 N69987 was sold to C.V. Moline of Isanti, Minnesota.
  • Registration issued on February 11, 1948.
  • First logged flight took place on February 1, 1948 for 10 minutes.
  • The last logged flight while owned by Meline took place on July 19, 1948 for 40 minutes.  Total Time is 1254 hours and 5 minutes.
28 June 1950 N69987 was sold to Brandt Aero at Holman Field, St. Paul, Minnesota. This made six civilian owners in 4 years and ends its first Minnesota stay.
  • First logged flight took place on July 16, 1950 for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Total time is 1255 hours and 15 minutes
  • The last logged flight while owned by Brandt Aero was October 4, 1950 for 1 hour and 5 minutes.  Total Time is 1314 hours and 30 minutes.
  • Brandt Aero Services was founded and owned by Otho Brandt – a 1997 inductee to the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.  He died in 1994.  For more information read his entry on their website.
22 March 1952 NC69987 was sold to John Giles of Madison, Wisconsin.
  • June 1, 1952 – Repair form filed with the CAA showing rudder recovered with fabric.
  • First and only logged flight took place on June 8, 1952 for 1 hour.  Total Time is 1315 hours and 30 minutes.
26 June 1952 N69987 was sold to Glenway Ehnert of West Bend, Wisconsin.
  • First logged flight took place October 10, 1952 for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Total time is 1317 hours.
  • October 10, 1953 – Repair form filed with the FAA showing the elevator, rudder, left aileron, and both flap extensions recovered with new fabric.
  • Last logged flight while owned by Ehnert was September 11, 1954 for 40 minutes. Total time is 1328 hours and 35 minutes.
  • There were two Glenway Ehnerts in West Bend.  Glenway E Ehnert Sr was born in 1904 and died in 1993.  Glenway M Ehnert Jr. was born in 1934 and died in 2011.  It is unclear who owned the airplane, but Glen Jr received his private pilot license in May of 1952.  Both are buried in West Bend, Wisconsin.
16 October 1954 N69987 was sold to Edward and Chester Pachnik of Chicago, Illinois.  The Pachniks were the owners until after Edward’s death
  • First logged flight was on October 24, 1954 ferrying the plane from West Bend, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois in a 1 hour and 25 minute flight. Total Time is 1330 hours.  A ferry permit was filed with the FAA for the flight.
  • March 12, 1955 – Repair form filed with the FAA for having the rudder, elevator, and both flap extensions recovered with new fabric.
  • Last logged flight while owned by Pachniks was August 16, 1955 for 20 minutes. Total time is 1352 hours and 20 minutes.
  • Edward Pachnik died on July 7, 1991 after a tractor accident. The aircraft was purchased from his estate.
  • Edward Pachnik was B-17 pilot in World War II in the European Theater.
  • Chester died on February 16, 2013.  He was a resident of Crystal, Minnesota.
13 May 1992 N69987 was sold to Mike Rawson of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
17 February 2004 Wings Restoration LLC (a subsidary of Wings of the North) purchases a share of N69987 and begins a complete restoration in partnership with Mike Rawson.
1 December 2011 Wings of the North purchases N69987 from Mike Rawson.  Restoration continues.

Pin It on Pinterest