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Thread: Ken Burnstine

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Sparks, Nevada
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    258

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Not sure where I found this one. She's still to be found in RARA's database, do believe.

    $
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    "Man was meant to fly -- the earth is for worms!"
    Martin Caidin

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    1,771

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Anyone have direct side view, and bottom side shots of Suzie Q they could post?

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Reno, Nevada
    Posts
    2,587

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    There was a picture in Air Classics of a stock mustang in the article about the 74 races that was described as being purchased by Ken for conversion into an "all out" racer. Somewhere I have an Air Progress aticle written about that year that is hilarious, my favorite line being about Lefty Gardner in Tipsy Miss "using a new tactic of laying down a smokescreen on the back straitaway and disquising it as yet another blown engine".
    Tiachi has profiles of Miss Suzy Q if I remember right. His site is blocked to me here.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    1,771

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo View Post
    There was a picture in Air Classics of a stock mustang in the article about the 74 races that was described as being purchased by Ken for conversion into an "all out" racer. Somewhere I have an Air Progress aticle written about that year that is hilarious, my favorite line being about Lefty Gardner in Tipsy Miss "using a new tactic of laying down a smokescreen on the back straitaway and disquising it as yet another blown engine".
    Tiachi has profiles of Miss Suzy Q if I remember right. His site is blocked to me here.

    Tiachi does have one. I don't know why I didn't think of that earlier.

  5. #25

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    anyone else have any info on Kens, checkered past or the crash, which some say was sabatoge? Heard a rumour that no body was found?

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Calistoga, CA
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    I arrived at the Mojave races the day after his crash and there were rumors. I heard he was wanted by the mob and the crash could have been a hit. Reading Jim Maloney's description of the crash in a previous post, I doubt it. I also heard that very little was left at the crash scene. I guess that's fodder for the conspiracy theorists! Here are a few pics that I've taken over the years. I always liked Bernstein's version of Miss Foxy Lady much more than when John Crocker bought it and re-painted it to Sumthin' Else, but then again it is a P-51 so it's still the most beautiful design in the universe!!
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  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Seattle, Washington
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    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Ken Burnstine was quite possibly the most colorful character ever to come to Reno...certainly gives the Whittington Brothers a run for their money for some shady background.

    Burnstine was a Marine Intel officer who claimed to have been a Marine Aviator, though records indicate that he was never assigned to flight school, received any training, or graduated. He served in the same unit as Lee Harvey Oswold, and was even looked into as part of the greater JFK conspiracy investigation.

    He made a ton of money building/transporting armaments (Mac 10's I believe were the weapon of choice) to Central/South America. He started his own charter airline out of Fort Lauderdale (I believe) which he used to smuggle drugs. His mansion in Miami was, in fact, guarded by two no-sh*t lions, and posted a sign at the gate that said "Trespassers will be eaten".

    Burnstine raced two Mustangs, N69QF Miss Suzy-Q, and N70QF Miss Foxy Lady. In spite of his backing into the '74 championship at Reno with Suzy Q, he never had much success in the three years he actively raced--especially considering the money he sank into them. Tended to cut a lot of pylons in Foxy Lady.

    The skinny is this. The FBI/DEA had been after Burnstine for a couple years, arrested him late in 1975 and had him on something like 15 counts of drug smuggling. He was forced to forfeit a TON of money, and ended up selling N70QF to Gary Levitz in 1976 to help pay for his legal defense. After being convicted on virtually all counts, he copped a plea bargain with the Government which included providing a list of names (rumored to include several powerful Florida businessmen and politicians) who were 'in' on the drug trade, and testify as the 'star witness' if and when the others were brought to trial.

    The 1976 Mojave race was about a week before Burnstine's trial was to start. Burnstine (with a passenger in the back seat) flew N69QF with Jim Maloney in the Planes of Fame Museum's "Spam Can" up to Mojave on, I believe, the Wednesday of race week. Somewhere I have the NTSB transcript of the interview with Maloney afterwards, but it basically said that they arrived over Mojave at 10,000 feet, and Burnstine requested to come down on the course for a couple of practice laps--more likely just having fun. Maloney said he witnessed the airplane roll over in a split-s, make two complete rolls, and impact the ground roughly wings level but at a definite nose-down attitude. Everyone on race frequency heard Burnstine say "Oh no...NO!" as the aircraft was entering it's second roll. The impact area was spread over the size of a football field, and not much was left.

    Because he was a government witness, the FBI took over the investigation from the FAA, treating it as a possible witness tampering. But--and here is the kicker--there was not enough wreckage left to determine if ANY foul play or sabotage was involved, so the case was closed as unfounded, and the accident was labeled just that: An accident.

    Two pistols were found in the wreckage, and Burnstine's body was found with two shoulder holsters inside his flight suit.

    Draw your own conclusions from that.

  8. #28

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Well, that certainly injects a bonus amount of info to the story - allrighty then. That IS colorful.

    But, I gotta ask since you said:

    "Burnstine (with a passenger in the back seat) flew N69QF with Jim Maloney in the Planes of Fame Museum's "Spam Can" up to Mojave on, I believe, the Wednesday of race week. Somewhere I have the NTSB transcript of the interview with Maloney afterwards, but it basically said that they arrived over Mojave at 10,000 feet, and Burnstine requested to come down on the course for a couple of practice laps--more likely just having fun. Maloney said he witnessed the airplane roll over in a split-s, make two complete rolls, and impact the ground roughly wings level but at a definite nose-down attitude."

    Does that mean 2 souls perished in this "accident"/crash?
    Last edited by Box A35; 11-23-2009 at 09:59 PM.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Texas, Oregon
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    619

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    One fatality according to the NTSB:

    http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=53689&key=0

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Seattle, Washington
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    1,831

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Nope...my mistake. I just went rooting through and dug out the NTSB report. I guess he was the only one on board. NOt sure why I had a passenger in my mind. Brain fade. Sorry.

    Jim

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