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4Linemen & A&Ps speak 4Over the moon 4Fly to Acadia National Park

September/October 2009



Pilots, Pylons & Power! Champion Racer puts you in the pilot’s seat!

S epte m ber / octo B er 2 0 0 9

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A I R R A C E S P E C I A L • W O R K I N G B E A V E R S I N F I J I • A I R W A Y T O F A I R W A Y • S oaring t h e A lps

Air Race special

The Magazine for Adventure Flying

Working Beavers in Fiji From the airway to the Fairway

Mooney aCclaim to TPC Scottsdale

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Working Beavers



A Beaver gently banks overhead, engine romantically rumbling. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine to find a North American icon in the South Pacific.

Photo by John Parker 2


J u ly / A u g u s t 2 0 0 9

The MAGAZINE AND ONLINE Guide for Adventure Flying



CONTENTS 50 Like a






to a flame

On any given Sunday throughout the country, an audience of millions is captivated by the “kisses” of NASCAR or a running-back breaking through the defensive line. But why aren’t more people watching air racing?


13 PRODUCT REVIEW The almighty TUG

18 FUTURE FLIGHT 20 ENGINE MAINTENANCE How to keep engines prime for racing 24 UFO Winderstart in German

65 Over the Moon Once in a blue moon, we are reminded that mere mortals learned to take aim at the sky and fling a small metal capsule at the heavens. The moon’s inspiration still exists.



74 TRAVEL Fly to Acadia National Park 96 NAHI The Heritage Trophy at Reno 98 Zenith Aircraft A Life Better Lived 104 FINAL APPROACH

74 Acadia National Park

Welcoming more than two million travelers a year, Acadia covers more than 40,000 acres. The park encompasses nearly half of Mount Desert Island, a scattering of smaller islands, and the Schoodic Peninsula. Take a flight to Bar Harbor–Hancock Airport for some fresh lobster.


76 A perfect drive. A perfect day. On the white tee of the famous 15th hole of the Tournament Players Club Stadium Course in Scottsdale, Arizona, looking down the long verdant fairway, straightening my green plaid knickers and Polo a la Payne Stewart, I swear that the towering prickly Saguaro cactus is flipping me the bird as I try to keep my rusty game together.

About the Cover: Favored to win the Unlimited Class at this year’s 2009 National Championship Air Races in Reno, the P-51D Mustang, Strega, and Bill “Tiger” Destefani prepare for a heated battle in the desert. Photo by Tyson Rininger





Engines through

Racing By Steven W. Ells

Air racing is the proving ground for air-cooled aircraft innovations. Consider this: In 1947 the Professional Racing Pilots Association formed rules for “midget” racing. The goal was to reduce the cost of air racing. Goodyear Tire and Rubber provided sponsorship and just seven months later 13 airplanes crossed the starting line in Cleveland for the inaugural race, which was won by pilot William Brennand in “Buster,” a Steve Wittman design. The winning speed was 165.9 mph. Initially midget racing engines were limited to 190 cubic inches. Continental’s C- 85 engine fit the bill but after a couple of decades serviceable components-especially crankshafts—became as scarce as an NDB approach. In mid-1968 the F1 ruling body OK’ed the use of the affordable and plentiful Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) O-200 engine. This engine is best known for powering Cessna’s C-150 trainer. It’s rated for 100 horsepower at 2750 rpm. At about that time the class was officially recognized and renamed Formula 1. F1 rules spell out wing size, minimum aircraft weight, minimum fuel quantity and other parameters but in spite of these constants the fact remains—in 1996 the qualifying speeds at the Reno F1 race were over 100 mph faster than the speed of the top qualifier in 1947 on an engine that has only 5 percent more displacement. Improvements in airframe construction methodologies and materials have made a huge difference in reducing drag but the following sentence sums up the gist of F1 engine improvements: “Since an aircraft engine is nothing more than an air pump the efficiency at which an engine draws in and expels air determines its overall performance”--John Schwaner, “Sky Ranch Engineering Manual” Volumetric efficiency is the ratio between the theoretical amount of air drawn into the engine and the actual amount of air drawn in. A higher ratio yields more power.


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F1 Racers Formula 1 engines can be modified, but not as much as might be expected. F1 rules that aim to keep F1 racing affordable require that the weights and sizes of major power components must conform to limits and that compression ratios can’t be greater than the stock number of 7.0:1. Out-of-the-pump avgas must be burned. So how do they get so much power out of an O-200? By increasing volumetric efficiency and installing specially-built propellers which free the engines to spin up to between 3800 and 4400 revolutions per minute (rpm). O-200 manufacturer TCM publishes 3300 rpm as the over-speed limitation for the O-200. Spin an O-200 installed on a certified airplane faster than 3300 rpm and you’re advised to remove, tear down and inspect the engine and accessories for damage. How do F1 engine builders keep their engines together? It all boils down to the expertise of the engine builders. According to one of the builders the task of flying in close proximity to other racers at speeds of to 280 mph automatically relegates engine management chores to the basics. Push the throttle forward as far as it will go and lean to a best power mixture (70 to 80 degrees rich of peak) and try to keep up. Increases in volumetric efficiency cause dramatic increases in engine output as fuel flows increase to 14 to 15 gallons per hour—roughly

twice the normal fuel flow of a stock O-200. More fuel also causes more heat--cylinder head temperatures often top 500 ° F. Are special parts used? Yes, to some degree, but it’s not a free-for-all. F1 racers must use TCM factory or officially approved parts but they may change “any fit, clearance, or oil lube hole to compensate for increased heat and rpm.” Higher rpms are a function of higher volumetric efficiencies.

Improving Volumetric Efficiency Port polishing and flow porting is the practice of smoothing the inner surfaces and fine-tuning the fit between induction system components to lessen airflow discontinuities. According to Schwaner the goal is to reduce the “pressure differential that exists between the intake manifold and the cylinder during the intake stroke.” Other processes used to improve efficiency are increasing intake valve size and matching lifters and camshaft lobe profiles so that all cylinders breathe evenly and produce the same power. Valve timing is sometimes advanced to compensate for the reduced valve-open periods due to higher rpms, and intake valve seat angles are fine-tuned to further reduce restrictions to air flow. A five-angle valve seat cut—instead of the three-angle cut common on FAA certified engines--increases efficiency by lessening the angles of airflow change. Visualize the flow of water down a rock-strewn creek bed and compare that to the same flow down a smooth gutter. More water can flow faster down the smooth gutter. It’s that simple. With every tune, there’s always a back beat. As RPM is increased volumetric efficiency decreases simply because the time window for the fuel/air charge shrinks. Research shows that the stoke time at 2400 RPM is 12 hundredths (0.012) of a second. At 3600 RPM the interval shrinks to 8 thousandths (0.008) of a second—one tenth of the time. Counter that engine operating whipsaw with the fact that increases in horsepower and RPM increase dynamic forces on mechanical components. Not only must the components be able to withstand higher loads but they must be lighter in weight to successfully compete. What steps do builders take to insure durability?

Fit and Finish “You can’t be clean enough or careful enough,” says Monty Barrett Sr. of Barrett Performance Engines (BPE) when talking about building engines. “It’s not quite a clean room but there’s nothing in there except the tools—there’s no eating or drinking.” Ken Tunnel of Lycon Aircraft Engines says his shop does “extreme

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How can the history of air racing change its future? STORY B Y GATES L . SCOTT

American pilot Mike Mangold flying through the start gate in Abu Dhabi (Russell Cheyne/Red Bull Air Race via AP Images)

Photos by Tyson Rininger & Brad Irwin


n any given Sunday, millions are captivated by the “kisses” of NASCAR, a running back breaking past linemen, or Tiger’s dominance on the links. The audience acquiesces to the thrill of victory and agony of defeat; there is no other form of excitement that can collectively pool millions of spectators at the exact same moment. Like a large social movement towards a sense of belonging and purpose, sports fans forget about their weekday troubles and tune in. All the while, product advancements, technological upgrades and improving talent level raise the bar and make the experience all that more exciting. This raising bar is met with lengthened golf courses, Indy cars averaging 250 miles per hour, and other eye-catching challenges adding to the spectacle. Over 108 million viewers watched at least one college bowl game last season. And the 2008 NCAA Basketball Tournament reached a staggering 136.8 million viewers , driving the medium’s ad revenues through the roof with a 34% increase over the last five years. The average cost of a 30-second spot during the tournament was over a million bucks. The droves of fans that bombard the NASCAR track each week with boundless enthusiasm throw on their favorite ball cap drooling at every turn. Over 8.5 million viewers watched NASCAR from the luxury of their La-Z-Boy and, according to FOX, the 2008-09 season was the top-rated and most watched regular season sport for the ninth consecutive year. Sports fans are easily distracted come Sunday by these gladiatorial events. They are like moths to a flame gazing into their magic boxes to see scores and statistics. However, sports fans are missing out. However, sports fans are missing out on something that was conceived exactly 100 years ago.. It’s odd to think how a sport with break-neck speeds, steep climbs and dives, G-force loads, noise that punctuates excitement and has existed since the turn of the century has not captured the Sunday, armchair-quarterback quietly escaping household chores. 4

A history with a future

American pilot Michael Goulian over the Detroit river during Race Day at the third round of the 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Windsor, Canada, June 14th, 2009. (Bob Martin/Red Bull Air Race via AP Images).

Goulian and his daughter in his hanger at the Red Bull Air Race Airport (Tom Lovelock/Red Bull Air Race via AP Images)


This Czech-made L-39 Albatross represents one of the more common types flown in Reno’s Jet Class.

s the industry ponders the future of general and business aviation and the timeliness of its recovery, the answer just may lie in its own history.

In 1920, publisher Ralph Pulitzer sponsored the Pulitzer Trophy Race for military airplanes at Roosevelt Field on Long Island as a way to publicize his newspaper and promote aviation. Pulitzer additionally birthed the National Air Races which introduced pylon and cross-country races in 1920, lasting to 1949. Like their modern day successors, these races spurred the advancement of aerospace and aviation during this period and made an indelible impression on its future. Even before Pulitzer’s self-promoting venture, air racing was on the minds of the French who hosted the first ever air race on May 23rd, 1909. The Prix de Lagatinere was held at an airport, Port-Aviation, south of Paris. Four pilots entered the race. Unfortunately, only two actually started and nobody officially completed the full race distance. Leon Delagrange covered over 5 laps of the 1.2 kilometer course, only half the total distance. He was crowned the victor. Other names like Louis Bleriot and Glenn Curtiss dominated the National Air Races at Cleveland in events like the Thompson Trophy Race. The first of its kind, this closed-circuit 10 mile long race course


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was designed for aviators to battle it out around a series of 50 foot high fixed pylons. The Thompson Trophy was sponsored by a prominent Cleveland manufacturer and the event provided an excitement that eclipsed many contemporary barnstorming events. It was the climatic, final race of the National Air Race series. Aircraft averaged over 200 miles per hour and created a spectator sport of the highest order. Prize money was no joke either earning winning pilots well over $5,000. In 1930, that was quite a bit of spending cash. Instead of taking off at timed intervals, race organizers felt that to create a race with more spectacle they would develop a “massed” start. Lined up on the field side by side at about 100-foot intervals, the competitors took off about 10 seconds apart. Each cleared a staging pylon which eventually equalized the interval, and like trying to garner a favorable starboard tack for a racing sloop, these air racers, once they established a position at the first pylon, would create wing tip to wing tip action that wasn’t found anywhere else. Close flying and low altitudes kept the spectators at the edge of their seats. Automotive racing and air racing have always worked side by side developing their own excitement; however, mass audiences have gravitated towards auto racing with much more fervor. Its fan base has exploded since the turn of the century. Air racing, albeit exciting, has not seen such mass movement. Until now.4

As the industry ponders the future of general and business aviation and the timeliness of its recovery, the answer just may lie in its own history.

Plane and pilot alike, such as Pete McLeod and his Edge 540, must tolerate knifeedge turns just to keep up, and training sessions like this one over Windsor help hone his skills.(Courtesy Red Bull Air Race)

Aviation’s future depends on air time Since 2003, The Red Bull Air Race Series has stormed through Europe, Abu Dhabi, Budapest and the United States attracting extremely large crowds watching for a “polished pylon” with bated breath or incredibly, agile aircraft hauling butt against a majestic, eastern European background. Even before this recent phenomenon of balls-out air racing, the 45-year-old National Air Championships in Reno, Nevada had revived the historical National Air Races as a celebration of the state’s centennial in 1964. With a closed circuit race course reborn from the Thompson Trophy days, the Reno Air Races fields five classes of airplanes: Unlimited, Jet, Sport, T-6, Formula One and Biplane. However, neither of these race series has gotten their due with the North American viewing public. Why? Because the aircraft aren’t “bad” enough? Or, the pilots aren’t that experienced? It simply comes down to the television and media conglomerates who feel the only timeslot for a Red Bull Air Race in Budapest is at 3:00am Eastern Time. In the early years at Reno, ABC Sports covered the event, but it didn’t last.

Aviation’s future depends on this air time. “I have watched BMX and XGames events on television and thought they look so cool. Then, when I saw them live, I was a bit underwhelmed”, says Pete McLeod, the youngest rookie currently competing in the Red Bull World Championships. “When you see a Red Bull air race live versus on television, there is no comparison”, he adds. “When enough people see this event live, it is awesome. There is no comparison.” When you take a look at guys like Pete McLeod or Mike Goulian from the Red Bull Air Races or Bill “Tiger” Destefani, Lyle Shelton, and Mike Brown of the Reno Air Races, these guys have promoted and transformed air racing by restoring old aircraft back from the dead with hard charging ,Wright 3350 engines reaching qualifying speeds of nearly 500 m.p.h. or flying the Edge 540 with a six-cylinder, fuel injected box engine reaching a top speed of 265 m.p.h. and over 12Gs. It is amazing that their celebrity isn’t much larger among sports fans. 4 september/october 2009


Reno with a

vengeance B

ill Destefani has restored two of the leading Mustangs in Reno’s Unlimited field, Dago Red and Strega. But it wasn’t before he was behind the controls of Strega (meaning “witch”) that he began winning and going for the Gold. The race-modified P-51D Mustang has a 1,649 cubic-inch, 12-cylinder Rolls Royce V-1650 liquid-cooled engine delivering over 3600 horsepower. Rumored at press time to be piloted by the 2008 rookie, Steve Hinton Jr., it is favored to take the Unlimited Class at the 2009 Reno National Air Races. Strega will be without the company of its top adversary, Dago Red. Due to ownership disputes and re-appropriation of the aircraft, Frank Taylor, the original owner of Dago Red ,doesn’t think the aircraft will be ready for this year’s event. The Unlimited Class at Reno is open to any piston driven aircraft with an empty weight greater than 4500 pounds. It is the one class that fans are most impressed by. A weight restriction was added in 2005, so aside from a very few “scratch-build” aircraft, this class has been populated by stock or modified WWII fighters like the P-51, F8F Bearcat and the Hawker Sea Fury. These military grade aircraft have been modified and re-modified to accommodate the demands of modern air racing within the shell of ancient engineering.

Over the course of four days, 200,000 spectators show up to gaze in amazement as the various classes deliver some amazing speeds over the 9-mile course. The top Unlimited qualifier in 2008 was Dago Red with a speed of over 474 m.p.h. The top Sport qualifier was Nemesis piloted by Jon Sharp at over 489 m.p.h. And the Jet Class qualifier was Curt Brown in an L-29 at over 524 m.p.h. These speeds are not something to sneeze at. In the November/December issue of PilotMag, Steve Hinton, Sr. was quoted “If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to get it.” In order to attract a larger, non aviation audience, races like those at Reno need to be promoted. Race organizers have to be more aggressive on garnering air time to demonstrate the event’s history and significant contribution to aeronautical advancements. If the industry wants the growth bad enough, maybe we should go for it. The short but exciting history of the Red Bull Air Race (RBAR) is full of international veterans who have crumbled under the heavy pressure and demands of racing in front of their home crowd. However, the high-flying rookie, Pete McLeod, thrived in front of some 290,000 at his home track, the third stop of this year’s World Championships in Windsor, Ontario. A native of Red Lake, Ontario, McLeod had been flying float planes since he was born, long before he became the undisputed North American Collegiate Aerobatic Champion, going undefeated in 2004 with five 1st place finishes, taking 2nd in the National Aerobatic Championships and finally achieving his Super License at RBAR Race Qualification Camp in 2008.4

On any given Sunday throughout the country, an audience of millions is captivated by the “kisses” of NASCAR, a running-back breaking through the defensive line, or Tiger’s dominance on the links 54

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Strega rests against the Nevada sunset (Tyson Rininger)

F7F Tigercats fly by at Reno (Tyson Rininger)

Strega’s highly tuned 3,600 horsepower V-12 at rest

September Fury, a modified Hawker Sea Fury, is another frequent racer at Reno (Tyson Rininger)

TravelGuide PILOTMAG


Heart & Soul of Maine

A c a d i a N a t i o na l P a r k

Acadia National Park has enchanted visitors throughout the ages with its incredible natural beauty, cultural traditions and endless opportunities for recreation.


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cadia National Park is the heart and soul of Maine’s coastal heritage. Nestled between the mountains of Acadia National Park and the crystal blue Atlantic Ocean is Bar Harbor, a vibrant and historic community of artists, writers, lobster fisherman and outdoor enthusiasts. Located on Mount Desert Island, the third largest island on the eastern seaboard, Bar Harbor has enchanted visitors throughout the ages with its incredible natural beauty, cultural traditions and endless opportunities for recreation. Surrounded on three sides by the mountains of Acadia National Park, The Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport serves as the perfect base for exploring the park. Whether you’re flying, walking, hiking, biking, or kayaking, Acadia National Park is just minutes away.

and shop area. From the end of June through Columbus Day, all pilots and families can jump on the Island Explorer which provides bus service between the airport and several locations on Mount Desert Island. Island destinations include village centers and Acadia National Park. For further information call Downeast Transportation at (207) 667-5796 or visit their website at

Welcoming more than two million travelers a year, Acadia covers more than 40,000 acres. The park encompasses nearly half of Mount Desert Island, a scattering of smaller islands, and the Schoodic Peninsula. The only national park in the Northeast, Acadia is big on attractions. Pilots can fly-over, drive, bike, or hike up Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast, to watch the sunrise and be the first in the United States to see the dawning of a new day. Later they can stop in for popovers and strawberry jam at the famous Jordan Hancock County-Bar Harbor Pond House, a delightful Airport gives you easy access to restaurant founded in the the heart of Downeast Maine early 1870s.

Maine is world renowned as a spectacular travel destination, and the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport gives you easy access to the heart of Downeast Maine. It’s a great place to live, work and play. Whether you come for a day, relocate your company or stay for a lifetime, you can “get here from there.” They offer lots of information to help you plan your next trip to this area. The Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport (BHB) is conveniently located half way between the City of Ellsworth and the Town of Bar Harbor. Modern facilities, state of the art instrument landing systems and a full range of services combine to make Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport a safe and efficient year round airport with a very high rate of reliability. Columbia Air Services’ facility at Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport is a popular destination, especially in the summer months when it serves the ever-growing tourist traffic. Their facility includes a 6,400 sq. ft. and a 3,200 sq. ft. storage hangar; a 5,880 sq. ft. maintenance hangar and a 3,844 sq. ft. office

One of the most amazing features of Acadia National Park is the interlaced system of hiking trails and carriage roads. With varied lengths and difficulty levels, the 130 miles of trails appeal to everyone from casual walkers to seasoned triathletes. Hike, bike, snowshoe, cross-country ski or go on horseback. No trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park would be complete without sampling some of the world’s finest lobster. And Bar Harbor knows how to do lobster. You’ll find lobster pounds where live lobsters are freshly steamed outdoors in wood-fired lobster pots. You’ll also find all kinds of lobster recipes from lobster crepes for breakfast and fresh toasted lobster rolls for lunch to dinner favorites like steaming bowls of lobster stew, heavenly lobster Newburgh, and complete shore dinners.

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A Swinging good time

Story by Jeff Berlin


‘m on the white tee of the famous 15th hole of the Tournament Players Club Stadium Course in Scottsdale, Arizona, looking down the long verdant fairway, straightening my green plaid knickers and Polo a la Payne Stewart, and I swear that towering, prickly Saguaro cactus is flipping me the bird as I try to keep my rusty game together. I grew up playing golf, and even after time off, my stroke usually comes back pretty quickly, within a few swings at the practice range. Still, now that I’m well into what’s becoming a pain-

ful—though painfully fun—round on one of the Southwest’s more challenging and picturesque courses, I’m just hoping on this long par five to simply drive my tee shot true and long enough to where I can crack a three iron and lay up nice for an easy chip and short putt—par! Should be a snap. Too bad I find, as I get older, in golf and tennis, my mind is often making shots my body won’t. And after shanking my tee shot, I was ready to nibble on my niblick as I dropped another ball for my much-needed Mulligan. At least my flight in a couple hours ago went smoothly.

There’s nothing quite like hopping almost directly from the plane to the course and chipping an approach to a green barely an hour after on approach to an airport. And if you’re lucky enough to be flying that approach in a brandnew Mooney Acclaim Type S, like my friend Mike Allen and I did, that’s about as good as it gets. It’s experiences like these that highlight the stark differences between personal aviation and commercial air travel. 4

T r av e l

From the airway to the fairway in the Mooney Acclaim Type S




T R U S T .


D E S E R V E .

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PilotMag Sept/Oct 2009 Issue Sample  

The Magazine for Adventure Flying. The best magazine in aviation.

PilotMag Sept/Oct 2009 Issue Sample  

The Magazine for Adventure Flying. The best magazine in aviation.