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Blue Skies Larry Burton

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  • Blue Skies Larry Burton

    I have some somber news, but I believe those who knew him would want to know.

    29 years ago a bunch of car guys and two airport bums rolled into Stead with a highly modified Sea Fury named Blind Mans Bluff.
    We had a couple of semi tractors full of tools and engines. The first Sea Fury to sport a Sky Raider 3350, Poppy Orange and Black, It looked like a racer from the thirties.

    It was an interesting week to say the least.

    We went through engines like water.

    Every night was an engine change.

    The CIA hangar was our home. Thanks for that you guys.

    The crew chief was a car guy in a wheel chair named Larry Burton. The Guy who painted the plane was Larry's brother Dale.
    Bucky has a lot of great shots of BMB so I won't post any here.

    I said on Facebook. It's ironic to me that during Reno Race week, The guy whose idea and inspiration it was to build that awesome plane has flown into the Sunset.

    Larry Burton took off for the last time at 5:30 AM in Phoenix, He has one brother left. Dale left us last year.
    Ron Burton lives in Indianapolis.

    If you want to know about Larry, he had a very, very long thread here a couple years ago. He was working on making it a book but publishers have things. It has not gotten past first base yet.

    I was one of the airport bums who met Larry in the Levolor hangar because I was driving around Scottsdale airport looking for planes.
    The goofiest looking plane I had ever seen was sitting out on the ramp in front of the hangar and I had to go in and ask.
    I walked in and saw Dale first. I asked him, He said it was a Percival Prentice. (Google images)

    Click image for larger version

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    This is the actual one.

    Anyway Dale told me they were building a Racer and I asked if they needed help.
    Go ask the boss in the office. I walked in and shook Larry's hand and started working volunteer for a couple weeks before being hired full time. That's how I met Larry Burton and the game was on. He was stern as a boss, and you better not say "I can't do that" to him. He was a racer, a builder of racing machines and you can build anything.

    I was working with a bunch of car builders. Boy did I learn some serious stuff. I considered myself a good mechanic until I came here.
    I worked for Larry off and on over the next 25 years. Our last project was building the engine for a F-1 plane in 2009 owned and flown by Bill Garrison. I may give our secret away sometime. The rules are tuff in F-1.

    We put together an engine in Larry's garage using Harbor Freight tools Some Snap-On but not many.
    That engine because of us thinking outside the box was legal and basically hung on the fasted Slabwing F-1 to date.
    Anyway, I wanted you guys to know that a guy who once took cars to Bonneville with Mickey Thompson, And Indy with AJ Foyt, and a few others, met a guy who sold mini blinds, who wanted to build an Air Racer and did it with a bunch of car builders and a couple of airport bums, all from a wheelchair, flew off in to blue skies this morning.

    Tail Winds and Fair Skies to Larry Burton, One of the smartest, greatest, toughest, best friends I ever had.
    We'll meet again my friend.
    Last edited by Flyer57; 09-17-2016, 06:34 PM.
    Roger O'Day

  • #2
    Re: Really quiet around here...

    Race57............Larry really was the man.

    If you hear anything about the book, please let us know.


    • #3
      Re: Really quiet around here...

      Thank you Flyer57 for the announcement. A somber day indeed. He sounded like an incredibly talented man. I was there the year that Blind Man's Bluff first showed up. The air racing community is much richer for having known Larry Burton and his many talents. You as an individual definitely had your life was enriched.

      I followed that lengthy thread a couple year ago. That was one for the history books!

      Rest is peace Larry.

      Last edited by gp70442; 09-17-2016, 06:48 PM.


      • #4
        Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

        This is very sad news but... Larry now does not only have legs, he has WINGS! He is free from his tortured body to move fluidly through space for the rest of time. He will always be with anyone who met him, Blue Skies Larry!
        Wayne Sagar
        "Pusher of Electrons"


        • #5
          Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

          Very sorry to hear this news, my condolences to his family and friends. I just got through re-reading the entire Blind Mans Bluff thread last week and was going to post a thread asking about Larry.

          Blue Skies Larry,



          • #6
            Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

            Lowly Mechanic: Thank you for informing us of our loss. And for your work on BMB. After reading the BMB story on here a few years ago I had the privilege to meet Larry and Lockheed Bob at a gathering arranged for them after the races one day. An instinctive mechanic and mechanical genius is Larrys legacy and his story and is one I'd also love to have if it gets published. My first year at Reno was when Blind mans Bluff made its first glorious appearance and to this day is my all time 2nd favorite airplane with the first being the Gee Bee Z. Quite an accomplishment for a new and untried Racer from a completely green airplane guy but that's the way Larry did things. What a great guy and what a beautiful plane!


            • #7
              Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

              Thanks Guys, He was everything you said and so much more.
              One thing I neglected to mention.
              There was no ego with Larry.
              He wasn't in for small talk but if you asked him about his work you better have a chair handy.
              Those who read his thread will remember that started with a couple questions about BMB because it was being converted back to stock.
              Someone I don't remember who, asked:
              How did you get started in racing? and it was on.
              The book is something I went into and edited from the thread.
              I basically took all his posts and put them into word and sent it to him. He started reading it is and editing it.
              I will have to get the drafts off his computer.
              But it's because someone here said how did you get started, and then someone said, man you should write a book.
              I want the story to come out so I will do everything I can to get that done.
              I only knew Larry for 30 years. I lived with him for a while, and his brother Dale lived with me for a while.
              Up until last year Larry was never not busy with something.
              He got board and bought an HO train set and a 4X8 sheet of plywood and build a totally cool train system.
              Hot Rods on one end and an Airport in the middle complete with a working bi-fold hangar door and working gate. By working I mean push button.
              The guy loved tinkering. And the hangar door was a witch to get right but he kept tinkering until it was.
              I think I have pics somewhere.
              Anyway, for me the end of an era.
              Thanks again for your acknowledgements.
              I'll keep you posted on things.
              Have a great post race week.
              Roger O'Day


              • #8
                Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

                Sorry to hear this. I also met Larry at the bbq at Reno and we kept in touch for a couple of years after. I couldn't get enough of his stories and am looking forward to the book.


                • #9
                  Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

                  Another of my Hero/Legends is gone West. Oh how I loved to listen to his stories at Wayne's BBQ's.
                  Hope is narative from this Board is indeed published. Please reserve a copy for me.
                  I wish him Godsspeed and Blue Skys.


                  • #10
                    Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

                    Sad news. I'm happy to have his autograph in my log book.


                    • #11
                      Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

                      I am also one of the lucky ones that was able to meet Larry and talk with him at the BBQ that year. That he didn't let his handicap stop him from pursuing his dreams and ambitions should inspire us all and serve to kick ourselves in the ass when we are ready to give up ourselves. This year in Formula 1 we had Justin Meaders to remind us that a handicap is only a handicap if you let it be one.
                      Things must really be interesting in heaven now that Larry has joined the likes of Jay Jones, Hep Porter, Bob Downey, Lyle Shelton and all of our other legends that have gone west.
                      Knotty Girl Crew


                      • #12
                        Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

                        Wow and I just saw this today. Brings tears to my eyes, I just wish I could have been lucky enough to work with him. I really enjoyed his blindmans bluff posts.


                        • #13
                          Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

                          With all the stories and colorful characters, there is surely a movie worth making.


                          • #14
                            Re: Blue Skies Larry Burton

                            My heart is sad tonight. I enjoyed reading Larry's BMB stories. I haven't been back here for a while simply due to other obligations with life. Never met Larry but felt a real kinship with the man through his stories. He was genuine and a real innovator in motorsports. RIP Larry.