An exciting new addition to the Museum recently is the only airworthy example of a Granville Gee Bee Model “E” Sportster , an authentic recreation built and completed in 1991 by Museum Director Jim Jenkins. Jim has long wanted the Sportster to be part of the flying collection and with his donation a few years back of his Bob Hall Bulldog recreation which work continues on and with the possibility of one more Golden Age Racer project waiting in the wings the Museum will have a very unique “Golden Age of Air Racing” display.
A little history on the original NC856Y Model “E” Sportster and our recreation,
The original NC856y was built as the factory prototype S/N 4 in the Sportster series and was flown by the C.A.A. ( F.A.A. in 1930-31) for certification test flights for a group 2 approval for limited production. During test flights is was determined that during a hands off six turn spin the Sportster would not recover on it`s own in fact the spin became faster . Along with a few other minor discrepancies redesign work produced a taller fin and rudder, a change to the engine mount which raised the thrust line two inches and the overall length two inches. All of this rework allowed the Sportster to pass the required spin test and also help with some longitudinal instability issues.
The Model “E” Sportster was issued a group 2 type A.T.C. approval in early 1931, though approved it was recommended by C.A.A. flight test inspector Boardman that the Sportster was by no means an airplane for a “novice beginner”.
During the winter of 1931 The Gee Bee was flown down to Miami Florida for the “1931 Miami Air Tour and Maneuvers” here the NC856Y was raced in her horsepower class and came in first in the “Cuban Governors race” , at a speed of 143 mph , with this win NC856Y was labeled the “Cuban Racer”. With it`s return to Springfield MA the Sportster was sold to Air National Guard ace pilot Al Knott, the Knott family owned the ” Knott Airport and Land Development Company” of Meriden CT. Knott flew and raced the Sportster on many occasions, in a few of the photos located during construction of the recreation Sportster the Knott Company logo can be clearly seen on each side of the aft fuselage.
In 1932 due to the deepening economic depression the Knott Company could not keep up on payments to the struggling Granville Company which in tern reposed the Gee Bee Sportster. With the Sportster back in the Granville`s hands, to the five Brothers it became obvious they needed to sell more airplanes to survive so they turned NC856Y into the Warner powered Factory demonstrator and flew her all over showing her high performance and flashy styling. It did pay off for a while as three more Warner powered Model “E`s” were manufactured.
The death nail came on February 17, 1934 when the Senior Brother Zantford and President of the Granville company was ferrying Sportster NC856Y to it`s new owner in the Midwest, with a rough winter hitting the mid west Zantford chose to fly down the eastern seaboard and then along the gulf coast before heading north west, while attempting to land at Spartanburg N.C. in limited icy visibility a vehicle drove out onto the runway which was under construction, Zantford pulled up to avoid the vehicle and gave the Warner the gun , the engine quit probably due to carb ice and the Sportster spun in killing Zantford Granville and destroying the Model “E” .
With the untimely death of Zantford the company could not carry on , a few more new designs were on the drafting tables and one an eight place Gee Bee “Transport” was under construction all went up on the auction block that summer . The Single seat Sportster models had made their mark and spear headed other Gee Bee designs such as the Models “Y, Z, R-1, R-2, ” and few others, but by late 1934-35 all of the Gee Bee`s were gone, except for one . The Q.E.D. was the last real Gee Bee to come out of the Granville shop, it survives down in Mexico to this day.
If we return to the Model “E” for a moment, it`s basic design evolved from the Model “X” specifically built to race in the Cirrus engine Derby race completely around the US in 1930, the model “X” came in second. This instilled some confidence in the Granville Brothers that they had a good design and if they offered the Sportster with optional engines that wealthy Sportsman’s pilots of the time might buy one. In the end eight single seat Sportsters were manufactured from 1930-1934 offering engines such as the Cirrus, Menasco, Warner and the Fairchild ”Ranger” 6. Today only the right wing of NC72V survives in the Experimental Aircraft Assn. Museum at Oshkosh , WI.
Enter Jim Jenkins who in 1983 who has several Warner 125 engines and a strong tug in his heart to fly a Gee Bee of some type and a chance meeting with Ken Flaglor of Illinois, Ken who had just finished a beautiful recreation of the Model “Y” Senior Sportster mentioned that about 60 % of the original engineering drawings of the “E” &”D” models were available from the American Air Racing Society of Cleveland , Ohio. With this information and a set of the drawings now in hand Jim was able to secure from the F.A.A. the original NC856Y N number for Serial #4 Sportster, he was on his way~ .
Starting in 1985 by building wing ribs and cutting many of the required 4130 steel fittings for the airframe the following six years would consume about five thousand , five hundred hours of construction, when in the summer of 1991 found the Sportster completed and on a trailer heading to Oshkosh`s first Golden Age Of Air Racing program , Jims was able to taxi the Gee Bee for the first time and later in September of 1991 make the first test flight in North West Ct.
On a personnel note as I write this short story about the history of Sportster series, I have to say that during the research, construction period and then to have the opportunity and ability to climb aboard and fly this remarkable little machine, it was one of most rewarding and exciting periods in my life.
Presently the Sportster is undergoing some paintwork on the sheet metal, new tires, flying and landing wire terminal stainless clevises, engine mount bushings and inspections of a few systems that were put together almost twenty five years ago. NC856Y appears as good as she did when first finished and being a permanent part of the Flying North Cascades Vintage Aircraft Museum will go on looking great for a long time. Planned debut for her will be summer of 2014 and will let the younger generations enjoy a remarkable piece of what keeps me going, the most romantic period in aviation, ” The Golden Age Of Aviation” Please come by for a visit and see our next thundering out of the past recreation , Bob Hall`s beautiful Bulldog.
Specs on Granville Sportster Model “E” NC856Y
Warner Scarab 125 Wing Area 95 sq. ft. R.O.C. 1400 FPM
EW 932 LBS. Airfoil M-6 Fuel Cap 38 Gals.
GW 1400 LBS Max Speed 155 MPH Price at Factory $ 5600.00 1931
Span 25 ` Cruise Speed 135 MPH
Length 16` 6″ Stall Speed 72 MPH
With the end of WWII insight the fertile mind of Al Mooney was once again at work coming up with his next wooden wonder, for it`s time the Culver “V” and the “V” stood for “Victory” was a revolutionary little Speedster which owed much of its design basis from the earlier and successful Cadet series and the drones built during WWII.Al Mooney had the private flyer in mind when the development of the “V” began to take shape, some of the “V”s features were very advanced for 1946, and they included the now infamous “Simpli-Fly” flight control system. The system was designed and patented with a coupling of the pitch and flap controls which would allow the Pilot to select any mode of flight, with a rather large trim wheel between the seats and this being cable connected to a panel mounted indicator this in turn allowed the pilot select Takeoff, Climb, Cruise, Approach and Land.
“Simple” was the word used most often by Culver in their advertisements promoting the new Model “V”, if there was one thing the Model “V” wasn`t was simple, the new Culver turned out to be a rather complex little airplane, retractable tricycle gear, variable pitch prop, fuel injected engine and Simpli-Fly!Construction was of the new “plastic bonded plywood” and this was for the entire airframe with only the cowling, landing gear and control system being of either aluminum, steel tube with even some magnesium thrown in for the cowling cheeks on certain serial numbers.
Powering this wooden marvel was the new Fuel Injected Continental C-85-12FJ and having this power converted to thrust was a novel “Sensenich Skybade hydraulic two position prop, again not all was simple but was rather intriguing to the pilots coming out of WWII or the novice pilot looking to buy a fast, two place fairly advanced airplane.Unfortunately the performance of this complex little machine did not live up to the manufactures claims, with an empty weight of 1050 lbs. and a gross of 1600 lbs. even with the “Sensenich Skyblade” turning up to redline, takeoffs and climbs were lengthy and that was on a good day, though once airborne and the correct setting was chosen such as climb the “V” had a very nice feel , upon reaching your cruise altitude you would be trimming the airplane with the big trim wheel to the cruise mode.In the cruise mode the “V” flew very well and would scoot along at about 115 mpg burning 5 gallons an hour. Now came your next mode of flight, glide and decent again selected by the trim wheel and with a flick of the panel mounted gear switch, the electrically powered gear popped out into the slip stream in less than five seconds.With the Simpli-fly set for approach and the 25 Square feet of slotted flaps out your speed had to be watched, 70-75 mph was a good range, and it must be noted that with the simpli-fly set for approach/ land there is a very limited amount of up elevator travel for flare, with this in mind your round out and flare should be near the ground. Mind you with up travel limited the “V” was almost stall proof.With your successful flight in the “V” behind you, one has to wonder how this complex and unique little machine came to be.
Possibly or what if the design had been crafted from aluminum, a more powerful power plant was available in the four cylinder class and a few of the advanced features were left out, would the Model “V” have been more successful? I doubt it for the period the airplane became available.One must remember all of the a/c that were new designs following WWII, once such design, the beautiful Globe Swift was direct competitor along with other all metal designs. Al Mooney was a very innovative designer, he was accustomed to crafting all of his designs of wood, and using minimal power with a small airframe Al achieved unheard of cruise speeds for the installed power during a time when the 65-85hp machines were 10-30 slower.The Culver Model “V” even with its unique quirks and design flaws must be appreciated for what it is, a neat, compact design trying to be far ahead of its time.
Our Culver “V” comes to us through a very interesting person named Pat Donovan , Pat a retired United Captain owned a Culver during his college days in Hawaii ( late 1950`s), having survived flying the “V” for a few years Pat went onto bigger and better equipment, such as his beautifully restored Lockheed 12. I believe with Pat entering the retirement years (2001) and finding the Lockheed a little too much for jaunting around the Pacific N.W. Pat began his search for the old Hawaii Culver “V” and amazingly enough finding it state side under his nose in Washington state, to make a long story even longer, Pat was unable to purchase his old mount, but low and behold Captain Carl Badgett of Culver Cadet fame enters the pipeline.Somehow Pat found Carl and Carl`s “V” project found Pat, Viola! Pat had a “V”. In between Pat decides to buy a Vineyard in New Zealand, wow that`s a long trip for a “V” but it would be in a container and New Zealand would be the place where the little Culver would get some much needed attention.Pat contracted with a gentlemen in New Zealand to do most of the work to bring the “V” back to her former glory, Carl Badgett had worked his magic with the required woodwork and Pat`s mechanic did most of the covering ,painting, cockpit work and installation of the complicated “Simpli-fly” control system and final assy. To Pat`s dismay, New Zealand after a number of years just wasn`t what he wanted, well what is one to do with a 95% completed Culver “V” and a 1938 Lockheed 12, we`ll Pat did the correct thing, he again containerized the “V” and shipped it to Washington, the Lockheed 12, he flew it home via Honolulu, a trip we will hopefully get Pat to write about in the future, he is an amazing man.
Now were does my interest come from in re: to the Model “V” Culver for the Museum, I have loved all of the Al Mooney/Culver designs for years and have owned and flown a few of them, with the Late Harold Hanson looking for “Unique” machines for his ever growing collection Harold’s purchases a “V” from guess who? Carl Badgett, Carl had a hanger full of Culvers during the late 90`s and into 2000, well according to Harold one “V” wasn`t enough, we should have spares for this rare airplane Jim, along comes e-bay and Harold finds two more projects in Oklahoma, guess where my son and I are off too? You guessed it Oklahoma.The two “V” projects are very complete and the price was good, but the wood was marginal on one a/c. So back in Concrete we`re sitting here looking at three Culver “V”`s, what is one to do? Has a match anybody?? Time seems to escape us here at the Museum, projects come, airplanes get restored and flown and then there is a pile of 60 year old wood, the Model “V”s.Time line 2012 rushes into our lives and so does one Pat Donovan, Pat has a 1928 Cessna AW project he wishes to trade for our Baby Ace aircraft, the Museum needs a few more “early” machines to help carry out our “Vintage “theme, we end up with the Cessna AW, but, while picking up the AW project from Pat, words are muttered would we be interested in a restored Culver “V”?? Hmmmm.
Four Culver “V”s, oh my god we`re crazy but and I mean but here sits a fully restored all original Culver “V” ready to go? Guess what? We make another trade for a Morgan Roadster we just happen to have that Pat would love to have and a few dollar bills included.Enter Culver “V” NC8442B S/N V-98 (Formerly NC80057)Jim gets the opportunity to fly the “V” with Pat Donavan in December of 2012, Pat ask how much do I weigh, 215 lbs. is my answer, Pat rattles off he`s 210 lbs. or something and says will put in 10 gallons of fuel, this thing is no ball of fire he quips, no problem, we get her cranked up and amble over to the pumps at Arlington.Now with about 15 gallons of 100 octane in our bladders we crank up and work our way to the run up area with Pat crackling in my headset that you don`t ask for this machine to do too much, you set the Simpli-Fly to takeoff, push the power lever full forward and let the Aeromatic do its thing. Well let me tell you, Pat was correct, just let it roll and roll and roll and after about 3000` just give it a hint of up elevator, I would like to say we screamed for the heavens but it was more like 200-300 fpm climb and I must admit to have never crossed the opposite end of a runway so low on takeoff, but with the gear tucked up we were off and at 200` I started dialing in the climb mode which brought up some flap which helped clean up the airplane, climb actually went to 400fpm at one point.Ah we`re finally at 2000` and dialed into cruise mode and screaming along at 115mph, 2450 revs with the Aeromatic doing its thing bringing the manifold pressure with in limits. Surprise!! What a delightful little machine to fly, controls were perfect, not twitchy, not sluggish just right.It`s 1946 all over again, but for me at 57 years old, 9 years newer than the “V” I`m enjoying something I might not have ever experienced if we still had to restore our three “V”s into one airplane. With less than a dozen “V”s left flying Pat Donovan needs to be commended for following through with the Culver “V” restoration, she has her short comings , but she now sits with the rest of our collection, flown on cool days for others to see and enjoy thanks to her genius designer, Al Mooney .
Anybody want to buy a Culver “V” project? We have three for sale!
The 2012 edition of the North Cascades Vintage Fly-In was another great get together of pilots and vintage airplanes from around the pacific northwest. Despite some cloudy weather on Friday, a decent number of early arrivals spent the night here at 3W5. On Saturday the weather was back to the July sunshine and more than 100 airplanes took part this year.
As always we had a strong showing of Canadian pilots coming down from British Columbia as well as pilots from around Washington, Oregon and elsewhere in the region. One of the local newspapers stopped by and wrote up a short story on the fly-in here.
Well we’re happy to say that we enjoyed another great Arlington Fly-In here in the beautiful pacific northwest. And this year’s fly-in was a big moment for us as we announced our new name, the North Cascades Vintage Aero Museum, and our plans to move to a new home at the Arlington Airport.
The decision to make the major changes to the museum have been under discussion for while now, but in the end we decided that the change will help us to reach a much wider audience and share the vision of our founder to share the airplanes with as many as possible.
When Harold Hansen founded the museum, he wanted to share his love of airplanes with others, and he wanted to create a retreat for pilots and aviation fans. The airport in Concrete has been our home since the beginning, and everybody who visits comments on the natural beauty surrounding us. But the remote location has its drawbacks. We are well off the beaten path for most visitors to the Puget Sound region, and during the winter the highway closes just up the road and our visitors drop to just a handful.
Moving to the Arlington Airport means we will be just an hour north of Seattle and much closer to other aviation museums in the region, including both Paul Allen’s and John Sessions’ collections at Paine Field as well as the Boeing factory less than 20 minutes away.We believe that Harold would have taken advantage of the same opportunity to share his passion for vintage airplanes with even more people.
We will also have a large base of local pilots and aviation enthusiasts who have already expressed an interest in supporting and helping the museum in the future.
The move will take time, and we don’t yet have a date set for when we will relocate. We are looking at some space on the west side of the airport and are working on some designs for a new display hangar and restoration shop that will give us the opportunity to create a first class museum at the Arlington Airport.
Stay tuned for more updates on the changes as we continue to move forward with our plans. We look forward to even greater things in the future and an opportunity to share our love of flying with an even greater number of people than ever before.
Sometimes an opportunity comes along that is too good to pass up. That was the case with the museum’s newest airplane, a Fairchild F24R. With a Ranger engine tucked beneath the long cowling, the F24R joins our growing lineup of Fairchild aircraft including the Fairchild 22 we acquired last fall, the PT-19 that has been in the collection for quite a while, and our Warner powered 1938 F24G.
The Fairchild airplanes are a delight to fly with the solid feel of push-rod connections between pilot and flight control surfaces. Like the F24G, the F24R was one of the premier cabin cruisers of the 1930s and 1940s. Our F24R is a 1946 model built during the post-war boom (and soon to be bust) of general aviation. The airplane is in good flyable condition, but will need a restoration at some point if it wants to look as good as its F24G sibling.
Both the Fairchild PT-19 and F24R use the Ranger inverted straight six-cylinder, 441 cubic inch engine. We acquired the F24R with a complete second Ranger engine, a very useful bonus as we have three different Ranger powered aircraft (our Grumman Widgeon is one of the few still flying with Ranger power).
The original F24 came out in 1932 and was powered by a four-cylinder Cirrus engine producing just 95 horsepower. Eventually the seven-cylinder radial Warner Scarab and the six-cylinder Rangers would be the dominant engines for the four-seat airplane.
Our new F24R was the second to the last model 24 Fairchild produced after nearly 2,000 rolled off the assembly line.
Tags: Fairchild F24
Our loyal friend Paul Cullmen visited the museum a few weeks ago with his newest machine, a beautiful Meyers 145 a rare bird indeed. this Meyers has been re-engined with a Fuel injected I0360 Continental and constant speed prop, this combonation makes for a real tiger. Paul lent us his Curtiss Jr pusher two winters ago and it was a big hit. Thank you Paul , your a gentleman and a pilots pilot!!
A nice shot of the Meyers 145 with Sauk Mountain for the back drop.
Paul on the roll for departure from Concrete.
In 1933-1934 the third version of the popular “Fairchild 22″ series was developed by the Kreider-Reisner for normal operations by the average amateur pilot. The slender lines were made possible by the new 4 cyclinder 125 hp Menasco Pirate inverted inline engine. One of the more handsome of the parasol monoplanes it was also a rugged, good performing airplane at a very sensible price. The Fairchild 22 model C-7-B was and open cockpit parasol- type mono plane with seating arranged for two in tandem. The fly away price for this beautiful airplane from the factory was $3,450.00 (source: Juptner, Joseph P; U.S. Civil Aircraft Series Volume 5 ; 1971 AERO Publishers INC. page 235.)
Here is the Farichld 22 just prior to engine start.
Here is Jim taxing the Fairchild 22 to 34 for departure from Orcas to Concrete.
The Farichild 22 departs Orcas Island with Jim at the controls.
Fairchild 22 in flight photo taken from Museum’s Luscombe. The Menasco purred all the way to Concrete after leaning out.
Arrival at concrete.
Tags: Fairchild 22
A few months back we got a call from John Sessions asking if we wanted a P-51 and Spitfire flyby at our fly-in here in Concrete. Of course we said yes, and we have stayed in touch and talked about working together more to help promote vintage aviation around the area. Over Labor Day weekend we were honored to be asked to bring some of our airplanes down to Sessions’ Historic Flight Foundation for the annual Vintage Aircraft Weekend at Paine Field. It was a great opportunity to support his efforts of promoting historic aircraft.
Sessions has put together an impressive collection of airplanes at this museum and over the past few years has put a lot of work into developing the vintage weekend at his facility. This year there was an impressive collection of airplanes including numerous warbirds from trainers through fighters and bombers. On the vintage/antique side it was great to see some impressive airplanes including a beautiful Staggerwing, Addison Pemberton’s Boeing Model 40 and the Mueum of Flight’s DC-2 to just name a few of the airplanes that flew in for the event.
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Tags: Call Air
, Mooney Mite
, Ryan STA
We’re happy to announce that our PA-15 Vagabond is flying again. The path this airplane has followed over the past several years has been a tough one as this is the second restoration in the several years. The airplane only had 1.5 hours on the last restoration before an accident totaled the airplane. We’ll have the rest of the story up here at some later date, but a hint is the airplane’s nickname, “Freeflight.”
Our Vagabond is a Deluxe model that has also been converted to a PA-17. The deluxe model included several amenities from the factory in Lock Haven not found on the budget conscious base model Vagabond. A few items include gear and strut fairings on the outside of the airplane and carpeting on the inside. And the conversion from a PA-15 to a PA-17 was accomplished with the addition of dual controls and it also has a 75 horsepower Continental.
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Tags: Piper PA-15 Vagabond
One of the highlights from the 2011 North Cascades Vintage Fly-In was a visit from local pilot Erik Lindbergh. Erik is the grandson of Charles Lindbergh and is actively involved in the aviation community. His most recent efforts are aimed at electric aviation and getting kids engaged in aerospace through his Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP).
Erik made a presentation during the fly-in and it was interesting for those from the vintage airplane community to hear from the front lines of the up and coming world of electric aircraft. After the fly-in here, Erik was off to Oshkosh where he presented this year’s LEAP winner.
One of the highlights for us was having the opportunity to introduce Erik to Warren Meyer. Warren is one of our favorite people and frequently visits the museum. A retired Pan Am pilot, Warren was the captain on the flight that flew Charles Lindbergh on what would be his final trip home to Hawaii in 1972 (picture).
Warren did not know Erik was going to be at the fly-in and it was pure coincidence that he happened to be wearing a t-shirt with and image of Lindbergh on the front. Warren learned how to fly in the 1930s and his airline career spanned from the DC-3 to the 747. Like many pilots of his generation, he was greatly inspired by Charles Lindbergh and had many fond recollections of meeting the legendary pilot.
Erik Lindbergh talking electric airplanes at the 2011 Vintage Fly-In.
After a being out of the cockpit for a while, Erik was right back at home flying in the Champ.
Tags: Vintage Fly In