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Thread: Before it was Rare Bear

  1. #111
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    Pacific Northwest
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    8,716

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by knot4u View Post
    The small airframe with clipped wings, a small canopy and a big engine (it took a lot of people a lot of time and personal sacrifice) seemed to be something that excited people. And then the three-blade prop was installed, the airplane instantly became extraordinary.
    John will correct me if I'm wrong It may well be possible that there was only one pilot who had the natural instinct, years of experience, knowledge of the systems and confidence in his machine and control of or complete lack of fear to extract all the airplane had to give. It can never be argued that the Rare Bear is an extraordinary machine created by amazing people but would it ever have been the racer that it is without Lyle Shelton flying it?

    The circumstances that brought Lyle to where he was, military training, years of experience with the engine. innate ability to feel what was needed. and I'm sure I mentioned complete lack of, or control of, FEAR!

    I just don't think you can discuss the accomplishments of that airplane and extraordinary crew without factoring in the extremely rare skills and determination of Lyle Shelton!
    Wayne Sagar
    "Pusher of Electrons"

  2. #112
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    Mar 2002
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    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    The combination did work...
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  3. #113
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    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Lief -- Here's one where Greg is part way to a smile. It's Sunday morning after a long evening and he's not thoroughly awake yet.

    Later that day he's not smiling. Three interesting and identfiable characters in the background -- anybody want to guess them?

    The last shot is 4 years later. He's officially crew chief by then, and is not smiling.

    Neal
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    Last edited by wingman; 11-29-2021 at 12:37 AM.

  4. #114
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Everybody so loved that three blade...
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  5. #115
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Oshkosh, WI
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    583

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    This is an AMAZING thread! I'm glad it's active again.

    I'm curious about the canopy and how that developed. From photos, it looks like it was a stock canopy until '71-'72 when a lower profile one shows up with sheet metal in the back. Then in 1973 the famous low profile one shows up.

    I'd love to hear if there's any stories about the development and decisions there.

    Thanks!
    Connor

  6. #116

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by CJAM427 View Post
    This is an AMAZING thread! I'm glad it's active again.

    I'm curious about the canopy and how that developed. From photos, it looks like it was a stock canopy until '71-'72 when a lower profile one shows up with sheet metal in the back. Then in 1973 the famous low profile one shows up.

    I'd love to hear if there's any stories about the development and decisions there.

    Thanks!
    Connor
    Connor,

    The stock canopy was used until the 1971 era, after that the first canopy modified was the "cut down shaped canopy" with the fibreglass rear section. Lyle didn't really like how much that canopy interfered with cockpit lighting and shadows, but it's what we had so no priority was set for it's replacement.

    Lyle always supported the Reno National Air Races downtown parade. For Reno 1972 the Bearcat was flown from Stead to the Reno Cannon airport to be towed in the parade through the town, if I'm recalling correctly Clay flew his Mustang down for the parade as well. Lyle stood in the cockpit during the parade and the canopy was rolled all the way back, we had noticed at that point in history that when the canopy was rolled all the way back the emergency jettisoning mechanism would strike part of the structure for the overturn brace, so a pre-flight item was added to check that the mechanism was secured. The next day after the parade when Lyle was flying back to Reno Stead, the item was missed. Lyle got back to Stead and flew around the course kind of high to look at it. Suddenly the canopy released from the airplane catching Lyle by surprise and striking his head as it went. So as a result we borrowed the stock canopy from Bud Fountain and left his Bearcat covered in plastic. When we got back home after the races Lyle, Myself, and my Mom with out dachshund Susie all piled into the F250 and returned the canopy to Reno and installed it back on Bud's Bearcat. We didn't have an extended cab truck and it was a manual transmission so after a while Lyle would say what gear he wanted, push in the clutch and I shifted. I always remember that horribly crowded ride to Reno and back from Orange County. It was fun.

    So after Reno 1972 the new all plastic canopy was made using the same windscreen as the previous one.

    The shape was made by making a plaster piece and basically removing plaster where it didn't look right. There was one of the aerodynamic guys I think from Douglas that came by the hangar to look at it and he said that everyone had done a good job, he commented that the fineness ratio was ten times better than Darryl's little bubble canopy so we were all happy and the guy that made everybody else's canopies made that one as set from the plaster mold.

    We would eventually in the 1980s replace that canopy due to age and sun damage from when the airplane sat outside after the belly landing in Mojave. That new canopy had an integral antenna on the inside rear surface which allowed us to remove the wire antenna and their resultant drag. At that point the area behind the canopy on the fuselage was built up slightly and the rear of the canopy frame modified to match, also at this point the rollers were replaced with Teflon slides that reduced the amount of rocking and play the canopy had making the whole assembly really tight. There was of course still air gaps around the canopy that allowed a slight bit of resultant drag. There were thought of taping the canopy closed for the 3Km record but ultimately the runway was too narrow to line up on Lyle tried lining up with the canopy closed but aborted the landing when transitioning from the slip to the landing. (Side note: this point of the landing when you are slipping to line up with the runway and transition to the nose up 3 point position, the tiny ailerons would momentarily loose effect and the airplane if you didn't stay on too of it would like to roll onto it's back, not a problem as long as you know it's coming and knew how to avoid it.)

    That is the canopy story.
    John Slack

  7. #117

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    Lief -- Here's one where Greg is part way to a smile. It's Sunday morning after a long evening and he's not thoroughly awake yet.

    Later that day he's not smiling. Three interesting and identfiable characters in the background -- anybody want to guess them?

    The last shot is 4 years later. He's officially crew chief by then, and is not smiling.

    Neal
    The people in the background in the second photo are Lyle, BCIV and Clay Lacy.

  8. #118

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    Lief -- Here's one where Greg is part way to a smile. It's Sunday morning after a long evening and he's not thoroughly awake yet.

    Later that day he's not smiling. Three interesting and identfiable characters in the background -- anybody want to guess them?

    The last shot is 4 years later. He's officially crew chief by then, and is not smiling.

    Neal
    It's sad that many people remember Greg as that guy in the third photo. I think he felt he had enough friends and with a few exceptions he wasn't looking for any new ones. He had a huge heart that would melt occasionally, evidence enough would be seeing him around a puppy or a young child. But not many got to see that side of him. Oh well, water under the bridge
    Last edited by knot4u; 11-29-2021 at 02:12 PM. Reason: Proper english

  9. #119

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    Lief -- Here's one where Greg is part way to a smile. It's Sunday morning after a long evening and he's not thoroughly awake yet.

    Later that day he's not smiling. Three interesting and identfiable characters in the background -- anybody want to guess them?

    The last shot is 4 years later. He's officially crew chief by then, and is not smiling.

    Neal

    I originally wrote a response to the pictures, that started in Van Nuys and ended the last time I saw Greg face to face. It took me over an emotional hour to write. I met Greg when I was a 14 year old kid, Greg was Bob Guildford's 16 year old Crew Chief on his Corsair. We became friends, I'd say for the rest of his life we were friends. We raced airplanes and cars together. It was a great journey, lots of water under and over the bridge of time.

    Thank you Neal for pictures that bring back thousands of memories of my friend.
    Last edited by BellCobraIV; 11-29-2021 at 02:15 PM.
    John Slack

  10. #120

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by knot4u View Post
    It's sad that many people remember Greg as that guy in the third photo. I think he felt he had enough friends and with a few exceptions he wasn't looking for any new ones. He had a huge heart that would melt occasionally, evidence enough would be seeing him around a puppy or a young child. But not many got to see that side of him. Oh well, water under the bridge

    Funny I wrote my response without having read yours.
    John Slack

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