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Thread: Before it was Rare Bear

  1. #41

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by BellCobraIV View Post
    Video of the time to climb, we shot some very fuzzy Super 8 movie, however I have not seen that film physically since prior to the 3Km run in 1989 when we looked for it to include in the 3Km movie unsuccessfully. Right now the only place it plays is in the theater of my mind, but there it has sound!
    I heard they had it secured with some kind of release mechanism to hold it till full power was established. Any chance you can describe how it was held, and released. The climb profile etc. Have never heard much about the record, I believe it still stands. Thanks

  2. #42
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    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    These stories are awesome. Truly a treasure. Thank you gentlemen. Keep ?em coming.
    You'll get your chance, smart guy!

  3. #43

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    I've been poking through Dell Rourk's book about Lyle and the Bear, and relearned some things about Bill Hickle, and his part in deciding to significantly change the thrust angle. That seems like a huge decision to make at that stage of a program. I can't quite imagine trying to work out and stress a piece like this new build engine mount when you are not only hanging a new engine and prop but changing the engine's whole relationship with the rest of the airplane -- and then have it work out perfectly...

    Didn't Grumman and all the other manufacturers have whole departments to do this stuff?

    Neal

    When Lyle bought the Bearcat in Valparaiso, Indiana one if the first order of getting it home was to separate the cockpit and wing center section from the rear fuselage. The rear fuselage was put on a pallet and shipped airfreight on TWA as Lyle worked for TWA and could arrange for discounted shipping from Chicago to Los Angeles. The cockpit and wing center section were a different deal, so Lyle found an old travel trailer and demolished the "house portion" of the trailer getting down to the bare chassis. Lyle had a couple of support sections welded onto the trailer to support the outer portion of the wings. Note there were no outer folding tips on the plane at this point. Thick carpeting was attached to the supports and a crane was used to place the center section gear up onto the repurposed trailer chassis. At this point he aft fuselage was removed and placed on a pallet for shipping. The aft fuselage was delivered to Aero Sport at Chino airport. The center section and trailer were moved by road pulled by a brand new green 1/2 Chevrolet truck Lyle purchased. The color wasn't important and the dealership was ready to sell the truck when Lyle walked in and bought it. At this point with the aft fuselage on it's way and Lyle out of time he took the center section to Earl Reinert's for storage unit he could bid his next time off from TWA to return to pickup the plane.

    Lyle returned picked up the center section and drove it out to Los Alamitos, California via Brownfield, Texas where his parents lived this also avoiding increased snow on the northern route even though he did hit a little snow in New Mexico. The wing center section arrived in Los Alamitos and sat behind our condominium in the alley for a couple of weeks. This was when Lyle told me I was part of the crew and it was my job to guard the plane in the alley. I did get into a fight with some bigger kids when they wanted to play on it and I pushed them off.

    Lyle found brand new hangars being built at Compton airport. He got there in time to choose hangar number F8 for his hulk of an airplane with it's assorted parts and pieces. Cliff Putnam from Lyle's travels at TWA had become interested in the project at this point and helped to make the jungle Jim assembly you see in the pictures. In December of 1968 Lyle and Cliff were working on trying to get the center section off the trailer and onto the jungle gym stand made of angle iron. Enter in another life changing moment a young Bill Hickle.

    Bill said that he had a hangar two rows down from the F row and he passed by and spotted this "Hulk of a fighter plane" with a couple of guys scratching their heads trying to get it up on this angle iron stand. Bill talked with them and understood that they had not properly designed the stand so that the gear could be lowered, which meant when the time came for gear testing the landing gear would not be able to be tested. Bill jumped in and became the 3rd adult member of the team that would ultimately become family to me. Bill helped redesign and modify the stand by doing the welding to put the stand to use. By the end of the day ( night) the center section was resting on it's stand......and Lyle Shelton, Cliff Putnam and Bill Hickle had started a great adventure.

    Now for the engine mount, Bill is a structural engineer. Lyle, had decided from the beginning to use the big Wright 18 cylinder radial. The version that initially was to be used was a -24W, this shared the same Dyna-Focal set up as the early Constellation engine so Lockheed had an on the shelf ring for the engine using six Dyna-Focal mounts to contain the engines thrust from running off the front of the plane. The original engine mount attach forgings were Re heat treated and attached to a mount designed by Bill Hickle that brought the thrust line of the airplane and the engine closer together. There was a welder who worked for either TWA or American Airlines that was an aviation certified welder Bill could not recall his first name however his last name was Hyman, bill not sure of the spelling. That engine mount was used through the whole program that Lyle used the airplane. An engineer for the Lord mount company did load calculations on it and we raced with it, bounced across rough deserts with it, bellied the airplane onto a runway in Mojave with it. Went really fast with it. After the runway at Mojave we had it magnaflux inspected and x-rayed, it was in great shape no damages noted. The engine mount performed flawless, and a major component of the future fastest piston engined airplane was in place.....and Bill Hickle was hooked.

    I asked Bill if he ever stopped to realize that less than 9 months later they would be in the test flying stage? Bill said that everyone at that point was taking this project just as seriously as if they were building the Apollo rocket. It was becoming a tighter knit project and Cliff was leading the mechanical end while Lyle was out in deserts and swamps and warehouses buying F8 parts when he wasn't in Compton putting in huge hours.

    More to come, Neal if you can find the pictures of the rear of the cockpit section repair I have some of that story next. I remember a before, during and after picture series.
    John Slack

  4. #44
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    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    John, this stuff is priceless! I think I can speak for everyone who hangs here... Please keep sharing!!!!!

    Sorry for not getting back to you on phone! Going crazy trying to stay awake enough to get a bunch of stuff I've got going on finished....

    But again, please keep it up!!!
    Wayne Sagar
    "Pusher of Electrons"

  5. #45

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    I remember Bill Hickle once told me he'd flown an airplane straight and level BACKWARDS! I respected Bill and didn't want to question him so I just went back to work correcting whatever it was that we'd done that didn't meet his high standards. I'd been training for my PPL for a bit and as I was removing zip-ties and adding adel clamps or redoing ugly safety wire I was ruminating about flying backwards. At the end of just another long hot night at Van Nuys I questioned him about it, because he was Bill Hickle he explained that if you're flying a J-3 in windy conditions you might point the nose into the wind and reduce your airspeed and you'll end up going backwards. He was all smiles telling me about it, although he did warn that it was a fairly disconcerting visual if I ever attempted it.

  6. #46
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    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Great post, John. I don't have any Behenna shots of the center section from behind. My Behenna collection is limited -- I never had time to print it all and I don't think I got sent all his negs anyway. I just printed what was obviously important or interesting. You don't have a copy of that shot either?

    So the fuselage was intact from the firewall back, but bent? Where was the major damage -- in the rear fuselage or center section? There was wing spar damage too, wasn't there?

    Didn't Richard Tracy have input into designing the engine mount? Dell Rourk talks about both Bill and Dr. Tracy being involved in its design at that point...

    Neal

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    If this were a book, it would be an air race fans dream.

  8. #48

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by wingman View Post
    Great post, John. I don't have any Behenna shots of the center section from behind. My Behenna collection is limited -- I never had time to print it all and I don't think I got sent all his negs anyway. I just printed what was obviously important or interesting. You don't have a copy of that shot either?

    So the fuselage was intact from the firewall back, but bent? Where was the major damage -- in the rear fuselage or center section? There was wing spar damage too, wasn't there?

    Didn't Richard Tracy have input into designing the engine mount? Dell Rourk talks about both Bill and Dr. Tracy being involved in its design at that point...

    Neal
    After Lyle passed away several items of his were stolen. Included among those items were his picture collection of the Bearcat's build up by Pete Behenna. There were eight volumes of invaluable pictures. I know some of those items have made their way out into the hands of collectors because I have been told that so and so has this item, and so and so has that item.
    John Slack

  9. #49

    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Deleted.
    Last edited by knot4u; 05-11-2021 at 06:05 PM.

  10. #50
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    Default Re: Before it was Rare Bear

    Quote Originally Posted by Reever View Post
    If this were a book, it would be an air race fans dream.
    Would be nice to see something like that come out of this.. We've never done a book, unsure of fees and such, suspect that as with all air race stuff, the audience is limited thus is the market for any product out of it..

    Hopefully this little electronic field of play which seems to have dragged in some pretty cool players will satiate the need... come back often LOL!!
    Wayne Sagar
    "Pusher of Electrons"

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