Rare Boeing YL-15 Scout Aircraft Up for Auction

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The Boeing YL-15 Scout stands as a testament to aviation heritage, embodying the innovative spirit of post-World War II aircraft design. With only 12 units ever built, its rarity is unmatched, especially considering that only one, the N4770C, has been restored to its original condition with period-correct details. This aircraft is not merely a post-WWII warbird prototype; it is a piece of living American history. The level of detail that the owner, Keith Brunquist, explored in this restoration is unmatched. Contact Airspace Auctions for full details here.

Historical Significance and Design
Developed in the late 1940s, the Boeing YL-15 was engineered in response to the U.S. Army’s need for a small, versatile liaison and observation aircraft. Its design was a departure from the conventional, featuring an unusually long wingspan of 40 feet, large flaperons, and a unique fuselage that allowed for exceptional visibility and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities. This design was geared towards maximizing the aircraft’s efficiency in liaison roles, showcasing Boeing’s commitment to innovation and functionality.

The Journey of N4770C
The YL-15 Scout with registration number N4770C, manufactured in 1949, encapsulates a rich history. After its stint with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Alaska, it found a home with Norm Brunquist, eventually passing down to his son, Keith, who undertook a passionate 13-year restoration project. This aircraft, therefore, is more than just a machine; it represents a familial legacy, intertwining personal memories with aviation history. Today, Keith has fulfilled his mission, bringing his father’s prized bird back to its original glory and flying it himself. He is now ready to pass the torch so a new owner can carry on the legacy and encourage others to enjoy the rich heritage of American warbirds and the competition it takes to win the race to a contract with the US military.

Restoration and Recognition
The meticulous restoration of the YL-15 Scout culminated in its celebrated unveiling at the Oshkosh AirVenture, where Keith was awarded the coveted Golden Wrench award in 2007. The aircraft was heralded as the Grand Champion for Post-WWII Warbirds in 2017, 2019, and 2021. This aircraft’s unique shape truly stands out, even when placed in Boeing Plaza at AirVenture. These accolades underscore the aircraft’s exceptional condition and the dedication invested in its revival. The restoration of this aircraft has been carefully documented by the owner. Images of every step, digitized blueprints, and full military logbooks are available on the AirSpace Auctions auction listing.

Technical Specifications and Performance
The YL-15 Scout, particularly the N4770C, boasts impressive specifications: a Lycoming O-290-7 engine, a cruise speed of 101 MPH, and a stall speed of just 18 MPH, demonstrating its superior design for STOL capabilities. Its meticulous restoration is reflected in every detail, from the factory anodized exterior to the period-correct interior, ensuring that every aspect is authentic and true to its original era.

Auction and Acquisition
As this iconic aircraft approaches the auction block on May 22, 2024, it presents a unique opportunity for collectors and aviation enthusiasts to own a piece of history. The sale includes not only the airworthy YL-15 Scout but also a treasure trove of spare parts and extensive documentation of its restoration journey, providing an unparalleled insight into its storied past. https://bids.airspaceauctions.com/Listing/Details/328675/1949-Boeing-YL15-Scout-Airventure-Grand-Champion-N4770C

Closing Thoughts on the YL-15 Scout
The Boeing YL-15 Scout, particularly the N4770C, is not just an aircraft; it’s a symbol of aviation history, a testament to the love and labor invested in preserving the legacy of flight. Its upcoming auction offers a rare chance to steward a piece of this legacy, ensuring that the Scout’s story continues to inspire future generations of aviators and historians alike.
In summary, the Boeing YL-15 Scout represents a unique chapter in the annals of aviation history, characterized by its innovative design, storied heritage, and the meticulous care it has received over the decades. As it prepares to find a new home, its legacy as a museum-quality piece of living history remains undiminished, a testament to the enduring allure and significance of rare warbirds in the aviation community.

A Personal Touch: The Brunquist Legacy
Nine years after the end of World War II, Keith Brunquist’s father, Norm, took him out to an airstrip near their Anchorage, Alaska home and showed Keith, who was nearly three years old, a Boeing YL-15 Scout. Sixty-three years after his first glimpse of the odd little airplane, Keith landed the fully restored Scout at the world’s biggest gathering of aircraft: the Experimental Aircraft Association’s 2017 AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. By the time the show was over, the YL-15 was recognized as the grand champion for post-World War II warbirds. In addition, Keith’s workmanship in restoring the Scout earned him a Gold Wrench award.

From Acquisition to Restoration
When Norm acquired the YL-15, he already knew quite a bit about its background. During the war, the U.S. Army learned the value of small airplanes that could take off and land almost anywhere, drop dispatches, direct artillery fire and airstrikes, and transport personnel. Most of the “L-Birds” (L for liaison) were compromises adapted from pre-war civilian designs. After the war, the Army wanted an airplane designed specifically for the liaison mission. Boeing responded with the XL-15.
In a 1946 publicity photo, an XL-15 proof-of-concept prototype (serial number 46-520) poses with a Boeing B-29. The unusual aircraft is a great example of how function can determine form. Almost nothing about the airplane looks conventional. The fuselage, which resembles a blimp gondola turned backward, is just big enough to hold two people in tandem—and a tiny 125-horsepower Lycoming engine. The wings span 40 feet and sport huge flaperons, with spoilers on the upper wing surfaces for good measure. The observer can face forward or aft, looking through an array of windows, which afford a view of the landscape uninterrupted by the tail, attached to a thin boom reaching back from the top of the aft fuselage. For versatility, the landing gear can be fitted with floats or skis.
Between 1946 and 1949, Boeing manufactured two XL-15 proof-of-concept prototypes and 10 pre-production YL-15s. These aircraft demonstrated exceptional slow flight and short-field capabilities, but when the Army decided to buy the more conventional Cessna L-19, the Boeing fleet went to Alaska’s branch of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. As a Fish & Wildlife mechanic, Norm had worked on them for the brief period they were stationed in Alaska. Something about the strange airplane appealed to him. So much so, that when YL-15 47-432 (the last one built) came up for auction in Pierre, South Dakota in 1954, Norm bought it. He flew it home via Oregon and Washington state—a long way in a very slow airplane. (The Scout cruises at 100 mph.) In preparation for the Army contract that never came, Boeing had manufactured lots of spare parts. Norm bought them all—for $25. He also acquired the YL-15 type certificate and the remains of two wrecked -15s. After making his last flight in the Scout on October 15, 1966, Norm parked it in his front yard, which was situated on the east shore of Alaska’s Lake Spenard. He fully intended to recondition the aircraft. Life, however, has a way of interfering with intentions, and the airplane sat in the front yard until Norm died in 1994.

The Restoration Process
Nine years later, Keith decided to fulfill his father’s dream. He pulled the badly deteriorated airplane into his shop in Wasilla and began a restoration that spanned 13 years. “My wife Kathy, my brothers, and many friends worked with me,” says Keith. “But I spent a lot of time alone. Then I met Brian Porterfield [an airline pilot who is also an experienced airframe-and-powerplant mechanic]. He came out to see my project, and for the next one and a half years whenever I was there, he was there. It made all the difference in the world, having that skill and encouragement during long nights in the shop.”
Rigging the cables controlling the flaperons, spoilers, and rudders was the biggest challenge. “Boeing’s Field Erection and Maintenance Manual [provided us with] the cable tensions,” explains Keith. “Some of those cables were spec’d for 90 pounds, which is a pretty good approximation of a guitar string. The spoilers were especially difficult—they had to sit completely flush with the top of the wing when the stick was in neutral, otherwise the airplane would try to turn continuously.”
Porterfield made the first post-restoration flight. He then put Keith through four intense hours of re-currency flight training in a Piper PA-18 Super Cub. On July 28, 2016, Keith finally soloed the airplane he had first met at age two and a half.
“The Scout has a very comfortable and well laid-out cockpit,” says Keith. “Its slow flight handling is impeccable. It has a full-power, full-flap stall speed of 18 mph! When I fly it solo, it gets airborne at 20 mph indicated airspeed. Short of a helicopter, I don’t think a better observation platform has ever been designed for forward air control and liaison work.”

Bringing the YL-15 to a Wider Audience
Keith and Porterfield decided to introduce the YL-15 to a larger audience. Since the Scout was designed to be transported by truck, which is almost as fast as the Scout, Keith stuffed the airplane into a 24-foot box truck and drove 3,125 miles from Wasilla to his friend Pat Harker’s warbird restoration shop in Anoka, Minnesota. After two long days of reassembly—“The Boeing sales brochure says a five-man crew can assemble the airplane in something like 45 minutes,” says Keith. “Complete fantasy!”—he took off for the 300-mile trip to Oshkosh, accompanied by Harker in Harker’s Stinson L-5. Once there, the YL-15 created a minor sensation. It’s possible that in a crowd of thousands, there was nobody who’d ever seen one fly.
At the 2019 AirVenture, Brunquist explained the instrument panel to 11-year-old Jayden Erickson. The Scout earned a further distinction—“Returning Grand Champion.” What’s next for the Scout? Keith’s not sure. “Who knows how many of these airplanes might fly again?” he says. “Mine is the only one flying now, but Pat Harker has the remains of one XL-15 and three YL-15s. As for me, it’s time to find a good home for mine,” he says. “I’ve accomplished my goals. I’ve honored my parents by restoring an airplane that was a big part of their lives, and I’ve had a chance to fly an unusual aircraft that I first saw when I was two years old.”

A Unique Piece of History
July 29, 2017 – After World War II, the U.S. Army went looking for a new light observation aircraft. In a competition that ultimately went to Cessna’s L-19, Boeing quickly designed its competing L-15. Boeing had, on several prior occasions, produced game-changing designs, ranging from its Model 40 mail plane to the then-radical four-engine Flying Fortress of 1935. That same game-changing grasp of aerodynamics and audacity would show up on the company’s successful swept-wing B-47 Stratojet bomber, and later on the 707 jetliner.
But the unorthodox L-15 may have been a reach too far in 1946. Its truncated fuselage featured wraparound visibility for the back-seat observer, who could swivel to face aft. A boom supports the tail surfaces. The L-15’s wing uses full-span flaperons with interconnected bucket-type spoilers. Owner Keith Brunquist of Wasilla, Alaska, says the plane has a power-on stall speed of 18 miles an hour, and it achieves its best angle of climb at 37 miles per hour. At only 20 mph indicated, with one pilot on board, Keith says the L-15 will get airborne. At that slow speed, Keith said it sometimes feels like “I’m gonna die.” He added that it’s short-coupled and tricky in a crosswind.

Conclusion
The Boeing YL-15 Scout is not just an aircraft; it’s a symbol of aviation history, a testament to the love and labor invested in preserving the legacy of flight. Its upcoming auction offers a rare chance to steward a piece of this legacy, ensuring that the Scout’s story continues to inspire future generations of aviators and historians alike. Whether you intend to bid or just love aviation history and want to geek out on a massive portfolio of information that contributes to this gem of living history, you can access the in-depth information on this aircraft at no cost on AirSpaceAuctions. This rare bird and its equally unique owner have been profiled many times over the years, the most recent being in the streaming show “In Plane View” on the streaming network Aeroverse. You can watch this episode for free for a limited time at aeroverse.com.
As it prepares to find a new home, its legacy as a museum-quality piece of living history remains undiminished, a testament to the enduring allure and significance of rare warbirds in the aviation community.
Boeing YL-15 Scout For Sale By Auction on AvPay by Airspace Auctions. Airborne

Boeing YL-15 Scout For Sale By Auction on AvPay by Airspace Auctions. Award

Boeing YL-15 Scout For Sale By Auction on AvPay by Airspace Auctions. Second World War Truck

Boeing YL-15 Scout For Sale By Auction on AvPay by Airspace Auctions. Sunset

Boeing YL-15 Scout For Sale By Auction on AvPay by Airspace Auctions. View from the left

Boeing YL-15 Scout For Sale By Auction on AvPay by Airspace Auctions. View from the right

Boeing YL-15 Scout For Sale By Auction on AvPay by Airspace Auctions.

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