Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 38

Thread: Before it was Rare Bear

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    The Canadian Rockies
    Posts
    2,243

    Default Before it was Rare Bear

    A man named Pete Behenna was part of the original crew building up a trashed and stripped carcass into an (eventually) all conquering unlimited air racer -- The airplane that eventually became Rare Bear. Pete apparently kept a camera around during the process and left us a remarkable record of the build. Pete was quite a good shooter, and was using a Rolleiflex, I believe, producing larger format negatives that were a pleasure to work with when I had the opportunity years ago to print a few of them for a Rare Bear project.

    These guys really didn't start with much. The shop was pretty minimal, too. This was big time Air Racing in the 1960s...

    Neal
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Behenna            685.jpg 
Views:	226 
Size:	395.5 KB 
ID:	25345   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Behenna      crop1      685.jpg 
Views:	200 
Size:	448.7 KB 
ID:	25346  
    Last edited by wingman; 05-03-2021 at 02:25 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    The Canadian Rockies
    Posts
    2,243

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    And a question for John Slack: I've always thought that The Bear in the early years had an essentially stock Bearcat cowling. I noticed, though, that in the first flight photo that much of the cowling looks like new metal. In the above photo there is a cowling nose bowl with some framing. Did these guys fabricate a lot of the cowling?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	First flight  Matthews or Behenna    733.jpg 
Views:	162 
Size:	413.8 KB 
ID:	25347   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Behenna      crop2      685.jpg 
Views:	137 
Size:	404.3 KB 
ID:	25348  

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    The Canadian Rockies
    Posts
    2,243

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    We established in another lost thread that I have no idea what Cliff Putnam looked like. I never knew any of the original crew other than Lyle and the remarkable Bill Hickle. I was pretty preoccupied with women and the US Army in 1969 -- I didn't even know that Warbirds still existed til years later. Cliff Putnam was an absolutely crucial figure in the story of that original build in Compton California.

    So which of the guys in this Pete Behenna crew photo is Cliff?

    Neal
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Behenna 752 copy.jpg 
Views:	144 
Size:	199.0 KB 
ID:	25349  
    Last edited by wingman; 05-03-2021 at 01:28 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    A man named Pete Behenna was part of the original crew building up a trashed and stripped carcass into an (eventually) all conquering unlimited air racer -- The airplane that eventually became Rare Bear. Pete apparently kept a camera around during the process and left us a remarkable record of the build. Pete was quite a good shooter, and was using a rolleiflex, I believe, producing larger format negatives that were a pleasure to work with when I had the opportunity years ago to print a few of them for a Rare Bear project.

    These guys really didn't start with much. The shop was pretty minimal, too. This was big time Air Racing in the 1960s...

    Neal
    Pete's pictures are a treasure trove and yes he shot pictures of all of the process.
    From left to right on the wing in the picture above;
    Cliff Putnam, George Williamson, Lyle Shelton, and Harry Smith in the background. The aft fuselage has already been attached at this point.
    John Slack

  5. #5

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    And a question for John Slack: I've always thought that The Bear in the early years had an essentially stock Bearcat cowling. I noticed, though, that in the first flight photo that much of the cowling looks like new metal. In the above photo there is a cowling nose bowl with some framing. Did these guys fabricate a lot of the cowling?
    Post #2, Second picture,

    The cowling that went to Reno was borrowed from Ed Maloney, the top pieces came from Bob Kucera's wreck, and Lloyd Nolan of the CAF. The brand new engine mount, nose bowl, and intermediate cowl section still in their blue paint came from Palley's Surplus in Los Angeles. What s place that was! I went there with my Dad a couple of times. They had thousands of parts for warbirds. Sadly huge lots of the parts were scrapped unsold and unloved in the early 70s. As an example there were eight of brand new QEC sections in the Grumman box. Lyle bought one told someone else that bought one a couple of years later six were scrapped.
    John
    Last edited by BellCobraIV; 05-03-2021 at 01:23 PM.
    John Slack

  6. #6

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    And a question for John Slack: I've always thought that The Bear in the early years had an essentially stock Bearcat cowling. I noticed, though, that in the first flight photo that much of the cowling looks like new metal. In the above photo there is a cowling nose bowl with some framing. Did these guys fabricate a lot of the cowling?
    Post #2, First picture,

    That was most likely the run-up just before the first flight from Orange County ( now John Wayne) the indications for me are Lyle's helmet is on in the earlier run-ups either Cliff Putnam did the runs or Lyle didn't have his helmet on. During one of the ground runs Cliff let the tail come up and pulled the tie down ring out of the ramp. In addition the tail cone is now on which went in just before the first flight. George Williamson is in the doorway of the 1960 1/2 ton pick-up truck. Unseen in the bed of the truck is myself as a 10 year old kid there were special places I was supposed to be when the propeller was turning.

    Cliff was an excellent mechanic and by this point was a First officer on Convair 880s for TWA.
    John Slack

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    The Canadian Rockies
    Posts
    2,243

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by BellCobraIV View Post
    Post #2, First picture,

    That was most likely the run-up just before the first flight from Orange County ( now John Wayne) the indications for me are Lyle's helmet is on in the earlier run-ups either Cliff Putnam did the runs or Lyle didn't have his helmet on.
    As a side question, John... Is this the Pete Behenna print that you once mentioned? I'm still trying to figure out whether this shot is by Pete or by Birch Matthews.

    Neal

  8. #8

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    We established in another lost thread that I have no idea what Cliff Putnam looked like. I never knew any of the original crew other than Lyle and the remarkable Bill Hickle. I was pretty preoccupied with women and the US Army in 1969 -- I didn't even know that Warbirds still existed til years later. Cliff Putnam was an absolutely crucial figure in the story of that original build in Compton California.

    So which of the guys in this Pete Behenna crew photo is Cliff?

    Neal
    Left to Right
    Cliff Putnam - Crew Chief, Harry Smith, Pete Behena, Bill Hickle, Bill Kientz, Chuck Hart, Dave Dallery, Lyle Shelton in front. Definitely at Compton, at this point Lyle was flying in and out of Compton.

    Something in the back of my mind makes me think that this may be a Birch Matthews picture. I'm not sure, just think so.
    Last edited by BellCobraIV; 05-03-2021 at 01:48 PM.
    John Slack

  9. #9

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    As a side question, John... Is this the Pete Behenna print that you once mentioned? I'm still trying to figure out whether this shot is by Pete or by Birch Matthews.

    Neal
    Neal,
    The picture I was thinking of the pickup truck is gone, our original APU was a smaller unit, didn't have a cart and was with me in the back of the truck. Lyle is looking at the camera in the other picture. I'll see if I can find it.
    John Slack

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    The Canadian Rockies
    Posts
    2,243

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    That could well be -- I was pretty obsessed with pulling decent prints, and had access to both sets of negatives at pretty much the same time. My record keeping was not great. It would not have occurred to me that thirty years later I'd be trying to figure out for sure who took what. I'd assumed that Pete set the shot up and had some else press the button, but I know Birch was around a lot too. They both used similar medium format cameras and film so there's no technical way to distinguish them either.

    Neal

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •