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Thread: A Wingman Quiz

  1. #1
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    Default A Wingman Quiz

    We haven't done one of these for a while -- we'll see if these are still interesting.

    So here's a little snapshot of some folks I knew, back in the day. Our question is: What is the occasion. who are these people, and why are they dressed this way?

    There is a lot of Air Racing history here, and a LOT of Championships. Which pilot here has the most?

    Neal
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  2. #2

    Default Re: A Wingman Quiz

    I know some of it.. some of it I'm gonna guess at.

    Left is Ray Cote, when he had the Circus Circus sponsorship in F1.
    Middle is Steve Hinton.
    Don't know the person on the right.

    Trophies say "California National Air Races" - so that's Mojave.

    Not sure when RB picked up the Michelob sponsorship but this looks to be before that, based on Hinton's flight suit.
    Wild guess... 1977?

    Ray Cote is certainly in contention for most championships, but I'm prepared to be corrected based on the mystery man on the right.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A Wingman Quiz

    Good so far. Definitely Ray on the left and Steve in the middle. There was no Mojave 1977. Our mystery man has several championships in different airplanes at various venues including Reno. He raced for 25 years or more. He was obviously not in an Unlimited for this race, but was (I believe) in a Reno Gold Race in a very well known Unlimited.

    I'm not too surprised that he's not immediately recognizable -- he was a true Racer though. He was a friend of mine. I drank his booze, ate with him and his family, and hung out with his kids ( a remarkable bunch in their own right). He has been unfairly and wrongly blamed for a serious incident at Reno, and I think this has tarnished his memory a bit.

    And Ray has more championships than the other two combined. Ray was a great and dedicated Racer -- a first round pick in any Air Race Hall of Fame.

    Here are a couple of shots of Ray's remarkable multiple record setting Shoestring -- the first of three aircraft that this remarkable man built into Champions. Sorry about the quality of the pylon shot -- I was a beginner back then, LOL.

    Neal
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: A Wingman Quiz

    Isn't that Ralph Twombly on the right?
    Flew Miss America at one time.
    I was there the day he perished in the T6 in '94. (my first time at Reno).

  5. #5
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    Default Re: A Wingman Quiz

    We have an answer. This was at the awards ceremony at Mojave 1978. These were the IF1, Unlimited and T-6 winners that year. It was windy and cold for that November race, which is why the jackets and such.

    The accident that killed Ralph Twombly was much misunderstood. I tried afterwards to correct the record as to what happened (I have photographic proof of the sequence of events the ended up in that driveway in Red Rock). Nobody ever seemed to care other than Ralph's family. Not unusual in such things -- everyone understandably just wants the thing behind them and forgotten. There was also obviously another man involved who did survive, and who was much liked and whose reputation was at stake, so things unfolded as they did and Twombly was pretty much forgotten.

    So things go, in the Air Racing world.

    Neal
    Last edited by wingman; 11-09-2020 at 10:16 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: A Wingman Quiz

    I was directly under that incident when it happened and one of the first people on site. Twombly was definitely not at fault. Thanks for making that clear, Mr. Wingman sir.

    Cool pic. I love Wingman quizzes. I always learn something. Thanks for spreading the history and love of our sport.
    You'll get your chance, smart guy!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: A Wingman Quiz

    You're welcome, and thanks for the confirmation of what I know. I felt pretty alone at the time with what I was saying. I remember a very unsatisfying conversation that winter with a RARA bigshot named Thornton Audrain, where I was basically told to go away and stop talking about the incident. He stated that as far as he was concerned the discussion about the accident was done and RARA wanted nothing more ever said again about it.

    That's big time Air Racing...

    And the quizzes have always been fun for me -- I very often have learned things from the discussions myself.

    Neal

  8. #8
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    Default Re: A Wingman Quiz

    My video of it shows Twombly on a straight stable course.
    Nice quiz wingman!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: A Wingman Quiz

    Fun quiz! I really enjoy these though I rarely if ever know the answers. My dad and I saw the '94 accident from the stands. Very, very sad. As a fan, I appreciated Ralph Twombly's contributions to air racing, Flying magazine, etc. It is good to see him remembered here in this way.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: A Wingman Quiz

    I'm glad this got some traction here. What I think happened in 1994 was a classic case of a momentary loss of situational awareness on the part of Jerry MacDonald. ( who I knew and always liked, by the way -- he was a good guy). I was at Unlimited pylon 8 so had an almost direct headon view of the race start, and have all the race aircraft in my frames. My first photo showed the racers lined up and the pace plane initiating his pullup. The next shot has the airplanes in the same spacing as the first, but with a small puff of black smoke behind Jerry's airplane, and Jerry's left wing lifting and the airplane visibly turning a bit to the right. Then we see Jerry's airplane impacting #41 from behind, and then Ralph's airplane dropping vertically alongside his detached wing. As far as I know the only thing Jerry ever said publicly was to the effect of "I don't know what happened -- I just looked up and saw a flash of white and then I was out of control". To me that says a lot, but given video shot from the pits (so at an angle) that every body interpreted as Ralph sliding over in front of Jerry, and given that Jerry was a charter member of the California group of racers that dominated the class and that Ralph was an outsider from New York state, and given that Ralph was dead and Jerry was not, Ralph was pretty much made the cause in everybody's mind. I think Jerry had his engine backfire and looked down into the cockpit at his instruments and just drifted over. I've been in a practice race with that starting line and things happen a lot faster than it looks from the ground. But Ralph's spacing relative to the pole position airplane never changed. Jerry's did...

    Neal
    Last edited by wingman; 11-09-2020 at 08:25 PM. Reason: Primitive typing skills

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