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Thread: Before it was Rare Bear

  1. #21

    Default Able Cat Stuck at a Stuckey's

    From Racer 18:

    Couldn't resist since Lyle positively touched and affected so many lives. He was an extraordinary pilot, who managed numerous emergencies during his racing career. This was my involvement, in June 1971, assisting Lyle's recovery of Able Cat, which was returning from the Cape May, NJ Air Races. He had a runaway prop over New Mexico and successfully landed the Bearcat in the desert next to a main highway and taxied up to an off ramp that had a Stuckey's. He caught a bus to Albequerque and flew back to CA. I was asked to fly with Lyle in his Cherokee to NM to help retrieve the Bearcat. Cliff Putnam gathered another Aeroproducts reservoir, seals, tooling (and trained me on the repair) to return to NM and meet Lyle's Texas cropduster friends, who came with truck/tools. Had to manufacture a prop removal tool. Used a tow truck lift to remove/repair prop. Now where/how to fly the Bearcat? Highway patrol wouldn't shut highway down and small air strip was not available. Great minds decided to build a runway in the desert. Proceeded to pull cactus, etc. up for several hours with tow truck. Lyle taxied to the end and ran up the Bearcat, with huge plumes of dusts, catctus, etc. flying everywhere. He indicated he couldn't see the runway. We then draped paper towels on the cactus/bushes on the edges of the runway. Anyway, off he goes bouncing thru the cactus, etc. (paper towels didn't work) and pull up the Bearcat and gives us a pass and proceeds to ABQ. I jumped in the Cherokee and met him there and we pulled lots of cactus out of the wheel well. He proceeds to fly back to Compton and I returned in his Cherokee. Here's a video of those races and the Bearcat with the spinner removed.
    Lyle positively affected my life forever and he's missed.

    Randy Difani (T 6 Thunderbolt Race 18 ret.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmZq4S0K_uo

    From John Slack:

    Randy,
    Thank you for joining in! You filled in some gaps in that story. I had heard Lyle talk about it, I had my Mom tell me that Lyle arrived at LAX instead of Compton. But not as much detail. The crop duster friends were R.L. Mackenzie and Rushy Lee Mackenzie of Brownfield, Texas. Subsequently I heard the stories of building a strip in the desert from them as well.

    Do me a favor please and fill in some of Cliff's story. I remember Cliff being a hard working really good mechanic, even though by this time I think he was first officer on the Convair 880 for TWA. But you got to work with him and as you know we lost him way too soon in the T-6 crash. I don't have enough mature memories of him to share and he really should be part of the story.
    John

    John Slack

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    San Marcos, CA
    Posts
    1,250

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Again, as the FNG here....


    God I hope you guys are writing this $#it down for posterity someplace!

    "Gentlemen" was a definitive work. Something tells me there's another one out there.

    Make it so...
    Owen Ashurst
    Performer Air Boss - Reno Air Races
    http://airbossone.com/

  3. #23

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    L.E.D. Thank you so much for getting us back up to speed I really appreciate it!
    John
    John Slack

  4. #24

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by BellCobraIV View Post
    L.E.D. Thank you so much for getting us back up to speed I really appreciate it!
    John
    Happy to help.. hope you don't mind that I had a little fun with the captions. =)

  5. #25

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    So this would have been very early on in the build. That shop must have been really unpleasant in the summer. Actually it must have been pretty unpleasant in the winter too...

    Attachment 25352Attachment 25353



    And here's the rear fuselage. This does not look like fun -- it's truly amazing what volunteer labor and expertise will do if the project is interesting enough.

    Attachment 25354

    Neal
    Thread post #14 picture #1,
    That is Harry Smith once again doing metal work. Harry and Pete Behena were both American Airlines mechanics and did excellent metal work. That welded up stand was what was put together so that the landing gear would clear the ground, and the cockpit and wing center section were not so tilted that you would fall off. At 10 years old it made a heck of a jungle gym! Cliff's son Darryl was at the hangar a good bit of the time as well.

    Thread post #14 picture#2
    Another shot of the cockpit and center section from the front left. Lot's of work to do! Lyle had bought some of those military surplus area heater's that worked well for the winter. I can remember a couple of those little "jet engines" running a lot of the time. But in the summer....it was just hot, no fixing hot.

    Thread post #14 picture#3
    Cliff Putnam painting the inside of the aft fuselage. It was decided that most of the work back there would be far more convenient going in and out the front than up through the "Hell Hole" opening. One of the more beautiful pieces of work was the repair the guys did in the form of a doubler right behind the cockpit where the fuselage was linked from the cart wheel landing. There should be a good picture of the back of the centerNeal, section before and after the repair.
    John Slack

  6. #26

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by L.E.D. View Post
    Happy to help.. hope you don't mind that I had a little fun with the captions. =)
    Great captions!
    John Slack

  7. #27

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by BellCobraIV View Post
    Great captions!

    Neal This is the picture of launching for the first Flight
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Image1_edited-1 - Copy - Copy.jpg 
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ID:	25355
    John Slack

  8. #28

    Default Re: Able Cat Stuck at a Stuckey's

    Quote Originally Posted by L.E.D. View Post
    From Racer 18:

    Couldn't resist since Lyle positively touched and affected so many lives. He was an extraordinary pilot, who managed numerous emergencies during his racing career. This was my involvement, in June 1971, assisting Lyle's recovery of Able Cat, which was returning from the Cape May, NJ Air Races. He had a runaway prop over New Mexico and successfully landed the Bearcat in the desert next to a main highway and taxied up to an off ramp that had a Stuckey's. He caught a bus to Albequerque and flew back to CA. I was asked to fly with Lyle in his Cherokee to NM to help retrieve the Bearcat. Cliff Putnam gathered another Aeroproducts reservoir, seals, tooling (and trained me on the repair) to return to NM and meet Lyle's Texas cropduster friends, who came with truck/tools. Had to manufacture a prop removal tool. Used a tow truck lift to remove/repair prop. Now where/how to fly the Bearcat? Highway patrol wouldn't shut highway down and small air strip was not available. Great minds decided to build a runway in the desert. Proceeded to pull cactus, etc. up for several hours with tow truck. Lyle taxied to the end and ran up the Bearcat, with huge plumes of dusts, catctus, etc. flying everywhere. He indicated he couldn't see the runway. We then draped paper towels on the cactus/bushes on the edges of the runway. Anyway, off he goes bouncing thru the cactus, etc. (paper towels didn't work) and pull up the Bearcat and gives us a pass and proceeds to ABQ. I jumped in the Cherokee and met him there and we pulled lots of cactus out of the wheel well. He proceeds to fly back to Compton and I returned in his Cherokee. Here's a video of those races and the Bearcat with the spinner removed.
    Lyle positively affected my life forever and he's missed.

    Randy Difani (T 6 Thunderbolt Race 18 ret.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmZq4S0K_uo

    From John Slack:

    Randy,
    Thank you for joining in! You filled in some gaps in that story. I had heard Lyle talk about it, I had my Mom tell me that Lyle arrived at LAX instead of Compton. But not as much detail. The crop duster friends were R.L. Mackenzie and Rushy Lee Mackenzie of Brownfield, Texas. Subsequently I heard the stories of building a strip in the desert from them as well.

    Do me a favor please and fill in some of Cliff's story. I remember Cliff being a hard working really good mechanic, even though by this time I think he was first officer on the Convair 880 for TWA. But you got to work with him and as you know we lost him way too soon in the T-6 crash. I don't have enough mature memories of him to share and he really should be part of the story.
    John

    John Slack
    Reno 1969

    In the first picture that is Randy Difani walking around the Right wing towards the camera.

    In the second picture that is Randy Difani in the background by the left wing, The small kid in under the plane was a pain in the bottom, Oh wait, That was me.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    John Slack

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Maui, Hawaii
    Posts
    822

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    A lot of history from the people that were there, this is great. One question, did Lyle use the 3350 from the start?

  10. #30

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by Reever View Post
    A lot of history from the people that were there, this is great. One question, did Lyle use the 3350 from the start?

    Yes, that was part of the concept for Lyle's whole racing program from day 1. He realized that to beat Darryl Greenameyer would require more power and Lyle was quite familiar with the Wright R-3350 from flying the AD Skyraider in the navy. Not everyone knows that the AD was called the Able Dog by it's pilots.....hence the original name Able Cat!
    John Slack

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