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Thread: Before it was Rare Bear

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    SYRACUSE, KANSAS
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    SO, I'LL PUT IN A LITTLE INFORMATION I HAVE ABOUT THE PRE-RARE BEAR:
    SOME OF YOU OLD GUYS WILL KNOW THE NAME OF EARL REINERT. HE AT ONE TIME OWNED SEVERAL FIGHTERS AND I MET HIM THROUGH HIM HAVING A FEW BEARCAT PARTS THAT I PURCHASED. IF I CAN FIND THE LETTER AND PICTURES HE SENT ME, IT WOULD BE A MAJOR MIRACLE AS I AM MOVING AND ALL MY ARCHIVES ARE IN BOXES THAT I DIDN'T PACK. ANYWAY, EARL SENT ME LITTLE PICTURES OF THE BEARCAT OUT IN THE SNOW AT VALPARAISO WITH THE WINGTIPS TORN OFF IT; ENGINE LAYING UNDER THE WINGS, AND WAS ONE SAD SIGHT. IN HIS LETTER WAS THE MOST INTERESTING PART: EARL HAD PURCHASED THE BEARCAT FROM THE MAN WHO WRECKED IT ( NO NAME MENTIONED) FOR $1200 AND GAVE HIM THE CHECK AT THE AIRPORT. ON THE WAY HOME FROM THE MEETING, THE MAN WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT AND WAS KILLED AND THE CHECK WAS NEVER CASHED. SO, CONSEQUENTLY, EARL BECAME THE OWNER OF A FREE BEARCAT AND SOLD IT TO LYLE FOR, FROM MEMORY, $2500. IF I CAN FIND THE LETTER, I WILL SEND IT TO JOHN SLACK.
    THE REST IS HISTORY..........
    DUSTY

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    The Canadian Rockies
    Posts
    2,247

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Hello Dusty. This is an interesting post -- it seems $2500 in 1969 would be about $18,000 in 2021 dollars. I'd say Mr. Reinert did pretty well considering this was a stripped wreck that nobody wanted...

  3. #13

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    Hello Dusty. This is an interesting post -- it seems $2500 in 1969 would be about $18,000 in 2021 dollars. I'd say Mr. Reinert did pretty well considering this was a stripped wreck that nobody wanted...
    Earl Reinert, Mike Couches, The actual owner was not the pilot that crashed it in Valparaiso, the man who crashed it was ferrying it for the new owner. Lyle bought the Airplane from Mike Couches ($2,500.00) who advertised it in Trade-A-Plane. Lyle also paid money to Earl Reinert ( less than $2,500.00). Later on an additional person said they owned the airplane, but dropped their claim when confronted by Lyle's paper trail. So the airplane had a clear title and we knew about Earl's free Bearcat claim. There was no doubt ever that it was Lyle's airplane.
    John Slack

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    The Canadian Rockies
    Posts
    2,247

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    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...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    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.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Neal

  5. #15

    Default Aircraft Cylinder and the Bear

    From John Slack:


    Big Jim,
    Wow! Some of my favorite years, outside of those years there.

    1965 was especially neat due to the raw atmosphere of being there. There really was a learning curve going in and even as a 6 year old kid polishing the canopy of the Mustang my Dad was racing that year a lot. I can still smell Supe Hoisington's cigars. And the dirt, every time s plane ran up there was lots of dirt. The guys that were there that were starting to get the feeling of the lay of the land were Darryl Greenameyer and Chuck Lyford. Everyone else was just there.

    I can come up with my 15 favorite years of Reno, but I feel that will require 15 additional posts to cover. Which will probably require Big Jim to come and correct me on facts that I will undoubtedly skew towards my memory.....

    1969, first year with the "Big Stick" My Dad had a friend in George Byard, George Byard owned Aircraft Cylinder and Turbine in Sun Valley, California. Aircraft Cylinder was in the radial engine business. George gave Lyle a 3350-26WC to use in the Bearcat for air racing. George told Lyle that as long as it was fun, and as long as Lyle would provide the labor, the engines were free. That was the beginning of how the Bearcat had a sponsor that lasted for over thirty years.

    Come on Brad, let's take a trip down memory lane. I'll bring my memories, you bring the facts.

    Last edited by BellCobraIV; 04-29-2021 at 03:04 PM.

    John Slack

  6. #16

    Default Section 3, The 1981 Bear and ... Next year.

    From John Slack:


    Section 3 is part of my memories as well, it was Sunday and we had ended up in the Bronze due to DNF finishes on Friday and Saturday. Still at that time if you won the Bronze, you could choose to elevate your self to the Silver giving up first place money and position in the Bronze. But then you could win the Silver, move up to the Gold on the same system. We were in the basement in the Bronze with an airplane that we were sure was fast enough to win the Gold. We prepped all morning to be ready to run the whole day, three races, three postflight inspections, three preflight inspections and everything was ready to go. Lyle ran the Bronze and we burned a piston due to a piston oiler that had become clogged with aluminum from a burnt piston on Saturday. Mac Mckinney and Mel Gregoire were up all night Friday and Saturday changing cylinders. We got down to the end of the ramp across from CIA after Lyle may dayed out of the Bronze. As we towed the airplane back all of us dejected. Lyle told me to ride the brakes and he jumped into the back of the pickup. We were towing back and a couple of folks in section 3 started to clap, someone yelled out "Next year Lyle!" We kept on towing back down to the pits with our broken Bear. I thought well if Lyle was in the cockpit he would have waved, so I did. Almost immediately the Section 3 area stood up and gave us a standing ovation, as we went down the ramp in front of the stands each section joined in until almost the whole stands were clapping for us. Lyle had stood up in the back of the pickup and waved as well. Some of the shy Section 3 people stopped by the pit during the day and said they knew we had intended to run all three races and just wanted to show their appreciation for our planned efforts.


    Big Jim That was 1981.

    Last edited by BellCobraIV; 04-30-2021 at 01:50 PM.

    John Slack

  7. #17

    Default Would there have been an Able Cat if Lyle had been able to get the FW-190?

    From John Slack and Jan:

    Jan:

    Not to derail your train of thought on the Section 3 episode John but I'm curious to what you know of the making and cobbling together of "The Able Cat".

    Eric and I heard our dad and yours chat about it multiple times - and also Walt Olrich. What are your memories of the airplane post Valpariso and Lyle shipping it home via the airline (TWA - for those of you not familiar, Lyle flew for them for years)? Did you help your dad and Cliff Putman graft it together?

    I also remember Dad talking with Corky and Bill about Bill loaning your dad the wingtip. And the 3350, were you there for the first start when Lyle says it spit everything from sand, and leaves to bugs and mice? 5th place in the Gold wasn't bad for an airplane that had been a wreck in a field less than a year before.

    Hmm... what if Mike Coutches Hellcat had been a solid airplane instead of a rust-bucket? If Lyle had purchased that, history might have been a bit different......

    Jan

    John Slack:

    Jan,
    I didn't realize that was you! This can be a fun thread.... where's Neal? Talking about alternative history, you know he went to Santa Barbara to look at the FW-190D-13 that would have been a racer if he had bought it...... hmmm.

    Last edited by BellCobraIV; 04-29-2021 at 07:09 PM.

    John Slack

    Jan:


    Yes indeed.. And warm hello from us.

    The 190... No.. well, I have to say I'm actually not sure whether I knew about that or not. I just called Eric and we agree that Dad mentioned something about that in his notes for "Gentlemen.." which we still have. Apparently Lyle mentioned something to him about that.

    I'm sure this was derived from one of their frequent late night telephone conversations... This probably would have resulted from chats during some part of 1982 I'm guessing. In his "chicken scratch" handwriting Dad has a note that says "190 or 109? Ask Lyle." ... But that's all it says. And I suppose he never followed up on that.

    What's the scoop?

    Jan

    John Slack:

    Jan,
    I'm working on my memories of the initial build of the Bearcat from when the parts started arriving in California after Lyle bought the plane.

    I can get scattered all over the place if I don't be careful. The Focke-Wulf FW-190D-13 that Paul Allen's collection now has was once upon a time for sale in Santa Barbara, California as an incomplete aircraft. Lyle looked at it knowing the advanced stage of development that aircraft had enjoyed during the war. The thought was a clipped wing cut down canopy fully modified racer using a Rolls Royce Griffon for power....Not a good place for the Focke-Wulf....... I think the Bearcat was a better plan for him. From the conversations our Dads had usually in the middle of the night, you probably know that with the Hellcat that was going to be an essentially stock airplane for an aerobatics display. After Darryl's Bearcat was retired I am somewhat doubtful that development line would have gone in the direction of what ultimately became an R-3350 powered Bearcat. That was pure Lyle. Lyle was the Benevolent Dictator of Rare Bear land, lots of suggestions came from different directions, but if Lyle didn't like the idea, it was a nonstarter.
    John

    Last edited by BellCobraIV; 04-30-2021 at 11:08 AM.

    John Slack

    Jan:


    Agreed John.. your dad was not only the final judge on any ideas for the Bear but he was literally the one-man engine that really made the airplane go.

    Yes, there was the 3350 and all of the key people, including you, who put the airplane in the air time after time and dragged more and more knots out of it despite its stubborn attempts to rest on the ground or amble around the sticks at a more leisurely pace. But the beating heart of the "Able Cat', "Phoenix 1", "7 1/4 percent Special", "Omni-sponsored", "Aircraft Cylinder Special" and "Rare Bear" was Lyle. Others have flown, tested and raced the airplane. But they never truly made it go. Lyle did.

    Yes, I knew that the Hellcat would have maybe been an airshow airplane or "something Lyle could build up" according to Dad. I guess it was also a matter of finances. But happily the Indiana wreck popped up over the horizon and we got an icon.

    I always knew when Dad and Lyle were on the phone - sure it was late night - but more than that there was always a lot enthusiasm, some commiserating and a lot of laughing. Of course, Dad was always chatting with lots of people. But Lyle and Mac were real friends. Mac's early death definitely made an impact on Dad.

    And of course he made notes on conversations with lots of people. Obviously, there was much talking with Pete, Bruce, Dave Z, Wiley, Sandberg, Steve, Skip, Gary, Rick, etc. I remember picking up the phone and talking with Jack Sliker as a little kid and asking him if he was ever going to paint his Bearcat. Do you remember Mac flying "Escape I" with "Kenworth" emblazoned on the fuselage?

    Remind me to tell you about a hilarious caption for a photograph of Gunther Balz and Dwight that didn't make it into the book.

    Jan

  8. #18

    Default Peanut gallery - or is it Section 3?

    This thread alone makes the hours I spent finding the backup drive and getting it moved to new home very much worthwhile!

    -Wayne Sagar
    "Pusher of Electrons"

    Buy a ticket and hang on Wayne, we haven't got started yet. It's been YEARS since I have felt like posting.

    Oh, wait it's your venue you don't need a ticket.

    - John Slack

    My Mom is 89 now, 90 in July and has been hit pretty severe with Alzheimer's. I was looking for a picture in "Gentleman" yesterday afternoon and she was looking over my shoulder. She actually recognized the Bearcat yesterday....first time in two and a half years. Brought a smile to both of our faces.
    John


    Ticket or no ticket, I feel like I should have a pit pass wristband to overhear this priceless stuff. This is the sort of thread we come here for!
    - N22252

    Pull up a chair and have a Coke on me, my Dad was a racer. He really appreciated the fans. He didn't race for the fame. He raced purely to win, however, nobody, I mean nobody would sit and sign autographs for the fans like Lyle. There was a kid in a wheelchair at the Rosser ranch airshow who asked what it looked like in the cockpit. Lyle got four other guys together and they got that kid up into the cockpit.


    -John Slack

  9. #19

    Default Mojave and VA-15

    From Jan:



    Ha! Richard Rosser.. what a Texas classic. At least, that's what Dad said and mom too. Glad to hear your mom is recalling the goings on. On the subject of moms John, our mom, Sharon, is romping along happily. She says "hello" to you and remembers when Dad was running that race for Rosser and Rosser's wife Kitty. It was apparently quite the Texas shindig.

    Mom also was remembering your dad and Clay and the mad scrambles to make Mojave happen and our Dad announcing the races and helping where he could. That was a fun/nerve wracking circus apparently. Clay and our Dad had also been working on a big airshow back east here near Dulles Airport.

    My mind's bouncing around too. And I don't think we've ever chatted about it but another classic with Lyle was in the 1990s when Eric and I and Dad took Lyle out to the USS Roosevelt (the aircraft carrier) 200 miles off the east coast and reunited him with VFA-15, the successor to VA-15 which your dad flew Skyraiders with. They were flying F/A-18Cs at the time and treated Lyle royally. We had a fantastic time! Some good stories happened on that trip.

    And just because I'm thinking of it, one guy who folks don't know or don't remember to think about who was around in the earlier years was Roger Brower. Roger shared some really good stories about everyone from Darryl to your dad and loads of others with us before he passed.

    There's so much history....

    Jan

  10. #20

    Default Early bird.. er.. Bear

    From Wingman:
    Hello John -- good to see you here again. Now that you are here maybe you can date a photo for me. This was taken by Pete Behenna or possibly Birch Matthews quite early on. Is this the day of the first flight as Rare Bear, or was it later? Can you date it?


    Early Bear Pic! Click the link it's worth it!

    Neal


    From John Slack

    Neal,
    I have a picture taken by Pete as well of the first flight from Orange County to Chino. The QEC components still had the Navy Blue paint on them. It arrived in Chino went to the Aero Sport hangar where some issues were addressed and the plane was painted zinc chromate with black trim.

    The Able Cat did not have the wing fairings in 1969 at Reno and returned home to Compton not long after the September race. It pretty much wintered in the hangar with maintenance based on the problems that arose at Reno. By the springtime the wing fairings were being built up, the propeller had been up to C&S for seal problems I think. The water injection had been repaired. I can check Lyle's log books to see when the first test flight was in 1970 as this picture would have been before that. I wonder if you have another picture of this ground run from the other side? I believe that at this time there would not have been a fairing on the left side. The fairing is covering the "N" number partially so the airplane would not have been flown yet with the new for 1970 fairings.

    Interestingly Cliff was doing the engine run in this picture, Cliff was a great mechanic and because of his TWA experience was good with the 3350. Cliff was the only person other than Lyle at this point to run the airplane on the ground. Cliff had put in so much work that Lyle had him down for 20% of the ownership at this point, Lyle retaining the other 80%. This was the only time that Lyle allowed anyone else to have a toehold into the Bearcat. Cliff found a couple of T-6 wrecks he wanted and Lyle immediately bought out the 20%.

    End result I'm guessing May to July 1970.

    Last edited by BellCobraIV; Yesterday at 02:35 PM.

    John Slack

    From Wingman:

    Thanks John. I think that image was definitely Pete's, and I do not have the other side.

    This is the one that I'm not sure of the photographer. I think this may be the day of the first flight. Does this match the Behenna shot that you have? Birch told me he was there for the first flight, and I had some of Birch's negatives for a while as well as Pete's. I did not always label stuff as well as I should have been doing. I assume this is Compton?

    Another Early Bear Pic From The Other Side. Seriously, this is the good stuff.

    From John Slack:

    Nope, that is Orange County (now John Wayne) you'll notice the tail fairing is now on the airplane. Earlier that day Cliff did some high power run-ups with the tail chained to a tie down out in the ramp. The tail came up and pulled the tie down out of the ground several inches. Anyway the tail cone is now on the airplane and I am fairly certain that this was the run-up just prior to Lyle making the first flight from Orange County to Chino. The man in the doorway of the pickup truck is George Williamson, George was a Navy Mechanic at Los Alamitos Naval air base. If you had been able to look into the cockpit at the instrument panel you would see quite a few instruments that would have been at home in an A4, an S2, or a P2V. The instrument shop at Los Alamitos "loaned" the Bearcat quite a few instruments for the first flight and Reno '69. However they all were returned to the instrument shop after function testing. George was connected to the instrument shop. George also saved the airplane with his quick thinking when an oxygen hose tore open while servicing the airplane, while everyone else was running away from the problem George jumped in and shut the bottle off. I was watching that happen in the pit area at Reno, the next thing I knew I had been picked up like a football and being rushed away by Austin Cranston.
    Let's do some more.

    John

    John Slack
    Last edited by L.E.D.; 05-03-2021 at 09:29 PM.

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