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Douglas A/B-26 Invader

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Air Racing

Round the world and distance record flights

 
 
 
 
 
 
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One of the first surplus Invaders to go on the US civil register was NX67834 which was purchased with a very specific mission in mind - to defeat Howard Hughes's global flight record. In 1938, Hughes and crew, flying a modified Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra circled the earth in a stunning 91 hours and 41 minutes so it was a tough record to conquer.

Bill Odom, a former military transport pilot with 102 crossings of the Hump to his credit, approached Milton Reynolds - the ball point pen king and extremely wealthy individual - to help sponsor the flight. In February 1947, a telephone call from Reynolds told the pilot to get to Chicago as quickly as possible.

The meeting produced an agreement, a check for $11,500, and a condition that the pilot did not expect - a demand that Reynolds go along on the flight. The Invader was purchased and modified to hold another 1000 gallons of fuel. On 12 April 1947, Odom, copilot Tex Salee, and passenger Reynolds tookoff in the Invader - named Reynolds Bombshell - from La Guardia Airport on their epic flight which was completed on 16 April with a flight time of 78 hours 55 minutes 56 seconds which handily beat the Hughes record.

However, Odom considered this flight merely prologue. As a child, Odom's hero was Wiley Post and Post had flown around the world solo and that's what he wanted to do with the Invader. Adding more fuel (for a total of 2460 gallons), Odom took off from Chicago four months later and went via Paris, Cairo, Karachi, Calcutta, Tokyo, Anchorage, Fargo, and back to Chicago in an elapsed time of 73 hours five minutes eleven seconds with a block speed of 269 mph and an average flying speed of 310.6 mph for a new record. Odom would continue long-range flights in other aircraft, including a Beech Bonanza, and would die, along with a mother and child in a house he hit, in the crash of the highly modified P-51 Beguine at the 1949 Cleveland National Air Races, effectively putting an end to that event.

When the Cleveland National Air Races restarted in 1946, the cross-country Bendix race was extremely popular. The event that year would start at Van Nuys Airport in southern California and head to Cleveland - a distance of 2048 miles. A stunning 22 former military aircraft were flagged off from Van Nuys and among them was A-26C NX37428 Race 45 The Caribbean Queen. Basically stock except for the removal of military equipment and the addition of a bomb bay fuel tank, pilot Don Husted made it to Cleveland in five hours 34 minutes six seconds at an average speed of 367.889 mph for a sixth place finish.

For the 1947 Bendix, the field was down to twelve aircraft and among them was Dianna Cyrus and her A-26B NX67807 Race 91 Huntress. Fitted with a bomb bay tank, a navigational error forced Dianna to land in Michigan and put her out of the running.

It was not until 1968 that Invaders returned to air racing when the irrepressible John Lear entered A-26B N3328G Race 76 at the Reno National Air Races. The other pilots had to agree to let the beast go around the pylons and John managed to qualify at a slow 259.32 mph but in the final Bronze race he slipped past a Mustang to take fifth at 283.68 mph.

Since then, Invaders have not been common at air races but Lloyd Hamilton raced an On Mark conversion at Reno while Wally McDonnell raced an A-26A Counter Invader at Mojave and other Invaders have made appearances around the pylons where they serve more as a nostalgic favorite than a real contender.

For history and data on individual Invaders throughout the site, I would like to credit the Warbirds Worldwide Directory by John Chapman, thank you John.
 
 

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Unlimited Class racers lined up at the California National Air Races of 1979, Mojave, California.

From left to right

Dwight Reimer's Douglas A-26 "Cotton Jenny;"

Wally McDonnell's Douglas A-26, Race 26, "The Mojave Kid,"

Race 4; Bob Guilford's Vought F4U Corsair, "Blue Max,"

Race 93; Dan Martin's North American P-51D Mustang, "Ridge Runner III,"

Race 7; and Waldo "Clay" Klabo's North American P-51D Mustang, "Fat Cat."

The A/B-26 Invaders that have taken part in air racing

 

#4 A-26C N2852G

 

#16 A-26B N500M

 

#26  A-26B N8036E "Cotton Jenny"

 

#45 A-26C NX-37482 "Caribbean Queen"

 

#76  A-26C N3328G

 

#85 A-26C N4959K "Puss In Boots".

 

#91 A-26B N67807 "Huntress"

 

#4 B-26K N29939 "The Mojave Kid"

 

B-26C N7079G "Bar-Belle Bomber"

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Wally McDonnell and John Lear in #4 at Mojave in 1970

Santa Rosa resident, aviation entrepreneur, consummate pilot, and all-around great guy Arthur Wallace McDonnell succumbed to a heart attack on Saturday 25th Sept 2010. He was 80 years old.
We knew him as Wally.
He had traveled back to Florida to work on his boat, he wanted to replace some windows. First, the battery in the VW needed charging. Wally just never slowed down. Wally had counted the number aircraft he had owned at one time or another. It was 54 and included DC-6's and -7's, a B-17, countless WWII fighters, helicopters and seaplanes. Wally may have been short in stature but he was long on integrity. What Wally leaves behind is all of the people who knew and respected him.

Serial #: 44-35493
Construction #: 28772
Civil Registration:
  N2852G
  N576JB
Model(s):
  A-26C
  RB-26C
Name: None
Status: Displayed
Last info: 2002

 

History:
Dollar Lines Inc, San Francisco, CA
- Registered as N2852G. Flown as #4 at the National air races.
Pacific Flight Service Inc, Angwin, CA, 1964-1969.
Arthur W. McDonnell, Lancaster, CA, Nov. 1970-1975.
- Operated with fog dispersal gear, 1969-1975.
Stencel Aero Engineering, Ashville, NC, 1977.

Sept 1981 - Impounded on the ramp at NAS New Orleans 11th Sep 1981 during a fuel stop. ( see clarification below )

Oklahoma Aircraft Sales, Yukon, OK, 1984.
John McGuire, El Paso, TX, 1986-1987.
John MacGuire/ War Eagles Air Museum, Santa Teresa, NM, Feb. 17, 1987-2002.
- Registered as N576JB.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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N500M, later N500MR at Mojave in 71

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Above shows Lloyd Hamilton racing N500M round the pylons at Reno

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The above two shots are of Lloyd Hamilton's 44-34769 On-Mark Marksman, flown by Hamilton when she was N500MR. At that time she was owned by airline pilot George Rivera who later rebuilt her and sold it to Bill Farrell of ohio.

 

 

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Serial #: 44-34769
Construction #: 28048
Civil Registration:
  N67162
  N500M
  N29711
  N500MR
Model(s):
  A-26B
  On Mark Marketeer
Name: Gator Invader
Status: Airworthy
Last info: 2002

 

History:
Delivered to Reconstruction Finance Corp as 44-34769
- Immediately put up for dispossal, 1945-1946.
Superior Oil Co Inc, Lafayette, LA, 1950-1954
- Registered as N67162.
Fletcher Oil & Gas
- Registered as N500M.
H. B. Zachry Co, San Antonio, TX, 1964-1968
George J. Rivera, Milton, CA, 1969
Priority Air Transport System, Redwood, CA, 1970.
Lloyd A. Hamilton, Santa Rosa, CA, 1971-1972
- Flown as racer #16.
John J. Marks, Hales Corner, WI, 1977
- Registered as N29711.
George J. Rivera, San Jose, CA, Dec. 1981-1989.
- Registered as N500MR, Mar. 1982.
William M. Farrell, Cincinatti, OH, May 1990-1992
- Flew with camoflage scheme as 434769/K/Gator Invader.
Minos Kirakou, Athens, Greece, 1995-2001.
Sea Link Aviation Inc, Wilmington, DE, June 12, 1995-2002.
- Delvered to Greece via Keflavik, Sept. 9, 1995.
- Based at Tanagra AB, Greece.
- Flown with camoflage scheme as 434769/K/Gator Invader.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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The Dogulas A-26 Invader racers of Dwight Reimer, right, in "Cotton Jenny," and Wally McDonnell, in The Mojave Kid. Both aircraft were competing in the Unlimiteds at the 1979 California National Air Races. Reimer took top honors among the twin engined competitors.

Note 1. 44-35696 was painted silver when Dwight Reimer owned her and when CF acquired her. She arrived in Texas still sporting the R on her tail as well as her Race 26.

She was initially painted black with yellow trim. It wasn't until her 2nd Koren crew chief recognized her serial number at an airshow in northern Alabama that her specific wartime history was learned. After some verification and additional research we put her back to match late 1952.


When the Collings Foundation acquired the plane she carried a sixgun hardnose. She was built as a C model with the glass nose. The glass nose was swapped out during its refit as a Korean War replacement at McClellan. The C model nose was reinstalled prior to knowing why the hardnose was on her.

 

Wally McDonald and Dwight both have silver A-26s. McDonald's had tip tanks and Reimer's was named "Cotton Jenny". I realize 44-35696 was a combat vet and painted in wartime markings when owned by CF. However that was not the case when owned by Reimer.

 

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Above 696 at Reno in 1980

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Serial #: 44-35696
Construction #: 28975
Civil Registration:
  N8036E
Model(s):
  A-26C
  B-26C
Name: My Mary Lou
Status: Restoration
Last info: 2005

 

History:
Delivered to USAF as 44-35696
- Assigned to 17th BG (L)/95th BS, based in Pusan, Korea.
- Flew 100 combat missions.
Bill Strader
L. B. Smith Aircraft Corp, Miami, FL, 1963.
- Registered as N8036E.
Richard B. Almour, Tucson, AZ, 1964.
William E. Strader, Fresno, CA, 1966-1977.
Operated by Wally McDonald under licence to RCAF to test downward firing ejector seats

Dwight Reimer, Shafter, CA, 1978-1981.
- Flown as race #26/Cotton Jenny.
Courtesy Aircraft Inc, Rockford, IL, 1984.
Robert Collings/Collings Foundation, Stowe, MA, Sept. 20, 1985-2005.
- Crashed on takeoff, Kankakee, IL, June 22, 1993.
- Under restoration for static display, Uvalde, TX, 1998-1999.
- Marked as 435696/BC-696/My Mary Lou.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Above, Cleveland Ohio, 9/1/1946

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When the Cleveland National Air Races restarted in 1946, the cross-country Bendix race was extremely popular. The event that year would start at Van Nuys Airport in southern California and head to Cleveland - a distance of 2048 miles. A stunning 22 former military aircraft were flagged off from Van Nuys and among them was A-26C NX37428 Race 45 The Caribbean Queen. Basically stock except for the removal of military equipment and the addition of a bomb bay fuel tank, pilot Don Husted made it to Cleveland in five hours 34 minutes six seconds at an average speed of 367.889 mph for a sixth place finish.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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John was very good to send me some unique shots of when he flew N3328G at Reno in '68. I have put together this feature with a view to adding further data when john can spare the time to forward more info on his time with the aircraft, meanwhile I would like to thank John for sending in the documentation he has and I hope all you guys out there enjoy this feature.

John wrote the piece below, around nine years ago and thought it represented the environment that existed when he flew at Reno in '68.
He suggested I use the piece as a datum to reflect the actions and risks that pilots took in order to break the barriers that awaited men and machines back in the early days of air racing.

RENO AIR RACES 1999

 

I couldn’t go to the races this year.  I was on standby in LAX  .But I remember the Reno air races in 1965. I remember them because I went out to Van Nuys airport on Saturday to hang out with the guys and everybody was gone.  I asked where everybody was and I was told, Reno Air Races .The first Reno Air Race was held in 1964 at a dirt strip north of Reno owned by Bill Stead. 

Greenamyer won in the Bearcat but because he refused to land the highly modified Bearcat back at this little dirt strip he was disqualified. 

The next year the race was moved to the former Stead Air Force Base to the northwest of Reno I was interested in racing a P-51 but I didn’t have one.

I moved from instructing in Cessna 150's at Hawthorne Airport to selling pots and pans door to door, then to flight instructing at Norm Larson’s Beechcraft in Van Nuys to flying a Learjet for the Flying Tiger Line in Burbank.

Though many other household bills needed paying I managed to borrow $3000 from Beneficial Finance to buy a little biplane which I intended to race in the sport biplane class.  I flew it into Santa Monica airport and took it apart to take it up to the house to do the necessary modifications.

But before I took it apart, me and some friends, after a few beers decided to just put the tail wheel in the trunk of my car and tow it up to Marquez Knolls.  We pulled out of the airport and turned left on Bundy Drive .  After about a 1/4 mile a sobering thought came to me. Some cop may stop us for towing an airplane through the city streets without a permit and smell beer on my breath.  We turned around and went back to the airport.

Later, I took the airplane apart and took it up in pieces to our garage.  I took the engine out and found somebody to soup it up. I tried to get some other friends to help me put it back together but after sitting all day Saturday and Sunday with a tub of chilled beer it was apparent to me that they were not interested in spending their weekend helping me for free beer.

So I started putting it back together myself.  The fuel tank, by regulation had to hold 16 gallons.  Mine only held 12.  So I had to highly modify the fuel tank to meet the requirements.  I also knew nothing about sheet metal work or nuts and bolts or anything else for that matter, heck, I’d only been on this planet for less than 24 years.  But through perseverance and blind dumb luck managed to get it together.

I borrowed some money from Dad to pay for the souped up engine and got that installed

The FAA has to inspect it before you put it all back together so I made an appointment for them to come up to the house.  After they missed several appointments I realized that they were not interested in driving from Burbank , where their maintenance office was to my house.

I put the plane and all the parts on a trailer and towed it down to the inspectors office and he came out in the street and signed off the paperwork.

I then towed it to Van Nuys and started putting it together.  I painted it yellow and named it "Flower Power". I did a few test flights  which showed that I did not properly baffle the new engine so that, as a consequence, it constantly overheated.  I modified the baffling so that it just barely cooled the engine enough.  But I was no mechanic and certainly had no sheet metal experience. I just wanted to race.

September rolled around and I flew the biplane to Reno and parked it.  Then I went back to Los Angeles to get my support equipment  which included tables and chairs, a rug and the little red piano. Marcelle and I and Chuck McClelland towed all that up to Reno where we set up our little area in the pits. Marcelle was in Amax pissed off  mode most of the time because there were other girls in the pits.

I went to the race pilots briefing. As usual and as subsequently in life, I managed to miss some of the more important points of the briefing. But I miss them at any briefing. I have always had dyslexia of the brain but have managed to cope. I have always found it impossible to listen, think and remember all at the same time.  To protect myself I grab every piece of paper and read up and usually I’ll get the drift of what I am supposed to do.

But that didn’t happen on my very first air race.  I taxied out to the line up. The race is conducted from a standing start.  There were 8 biplanes.  The fastest qualifier starts at the far left and the slowest at the far right. I was at the far right. The starter started waving his flag and we all revved up our engines.  Around and around the flag went.  Finally he dropped it in our direction and we were off. 

Being the slowest qualifier also meant I had quicker acceleration because of the pitch of the prop and in about 5 seconds I looked out to my left and was a good 50 feet in front of everybody.  So what did I do?  I aimed for the closest pylon.  What the hell did I know?  I roared into the first pylon, rounded it and headed for the next.  Planes were all over the sky, around me, on top of me, beside me but most thankful of all, in front of me.  I am glad someone was in front of me because the pylons are painted bright international orange, a color that is invisible to my eyeballs.  So you ask what do I see when I look at international orange.  I see nothing.  Its invisible.  I actually look for the white part of the checkerboard.  Anyway, pretty soon everybody had passed me and the leaders started to lap me.  But what the hell.  I was air racing.  I had placed fourth and it was a thrill.  But it was too soon over and I came putt putt putting back in to land.

We all go to the debriefing and there is deathly silence.  Something has happened.  But what?  Finally the debriefer says in a hushed, serious voice. AOK, we all know what happened today.  We can only hope that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. I look around. What happened?  What happened?  I don’t say it out loud because I noticed that everybody is looking at me.  Nobody ever confronted me directly but later, through innuendo I discovered that I had committed the greatest of all sins. On the start I had cut in front of everybody heading for the first pylon when the briefer specifically said, Everybody stays line abreast until AFTER the first pylon. Oh.

But I had far more serious things to worry about.  Marcelle was pissed because there were more girls in the pits.

A few months later I met an airplane designer who wanted to build a biplane specifically for racing.  If I would supply the engine he would supply the airframe.  He designed it so that the top wing was a gull,  which means that instead of the wing going across the cockpit it was canted down at about a 45 degree angle to each side of the cockpit.  This made it easier to see the pylon you were rolling into.  In a normal biplane, as you roll into the turn the top wing blocks your view of the pylon.

Rim Kaminskas was his name and he laboured all winter and spring until the airframe was finally finished.  We towed the airplane down to Chino airport and installed the engine from my other biplane.  I made the first flight and everything seemed normal.

There was one small catch.  There is a regulation in the Sport Biplane class rules that for an airplane to be eligible to race it must have accumulated 500 hours.  It was now May and the races were in September.  That meant that I would have to fly our gull wing over 100 hours a month to qualify.  I had neither the money or the time to do that so there was nothing left to do but phoney up the log books.  Unfortunately there were plenty of witnesses to testify that I never flew that 500 hours and consequently, among other reasons, was never allowed to race the gull wing.

But before I was disqualified I actually got the airplane to Reno and was allowed to qualify. 

Meanwhile for another business of mine I had acquired a Douglas B-26 medium bomber and I thought that it might be fun to race this at Reno .  So the plan was to race both the B-26 in the Unlimited class and the gull wing in the Sport Biplane class.  I don’t remember with all the confusion and logistics of trying to get both airplanes up to Reno, whether the red piano made it or not. I don’t think it did. 

I flew the B-26 up first and then went back for the gull wing which had a total of about 5 hours on it.  The gull wing was inspected and I set out to qualify. It was a clear but cold and windy day. I revved up the engine and went tearing down the runway. The air was turbulent. I rolled into the first pylon and aimed for the second.  Rolled out of the second and aimed for the third. As I rolled into the third pylon I hit a gust of wind and felt a tremendous staccato-like shuddering and the airplane headed for the ground. I thought that the prop was hitting the cowling.  Just before I hit the ground the shuddering stopped and I climbed up and went into land.  I taxied over to the pits, cut the engine and told Rim what had happened.  We looked at the cowling and there was no evidence that the prop was hitting the cowling.

So I gassed up and went out again.  Same thing. In the third turn, just as I rolled into the pylon another gust and this staccato shuddering started.  I looked down and to my left and to my surprise there appeared to be no wing.  Then I saw that the wing was vibrating up and down about 18 inches in what is know as flutter.  Very few pilots have survived flutter simply because in a matter of seconds the wing vibrates off the airplane.  But for some reason the flutter stopped and I went back into land.

After much discussion and input from other pilots it became apparent that Rim and I had violated one of aviations most sacred laws.  And Though shalt balance thy ailerons beforest thou shalt fly. I should have caught this because that’s how we lost No.2 Learjet airframe.  Dad and Ron Pucket took out number 2 one day after some elevator work and didn’t rebalance the elevators. They got into serious flutter (is there any other kind?) over Oklahoma and barely got it back to Wichita .  Because of the severe structural damage No. 2 never flew again and now hangs in the Smithsonian.

What balancing means, is to have the greater weight of the flight control forward of the hinge point.  This was the last day to qualify and we had no time to lose.  We towed the airplane up to the old hangar at the east end of Stead.  There was a little tab attached to the aileron which extended forward of the hinge and I figured if we could get enough weight on the tab that our problem would be solved.  I sent one of the guys into Reno to find a tire place that would have a few of the lead balances they use for automobile wheels.  I meanwhile traced out the shape of the tab and found some 1/4 inch steel and using a band saw cut the shape of the tab out of the 1/4 inch steel.  When the guy came back with the wheel weights we found an acetylene torch and began filling up the hole in the steel with melted lead.  When the lead cooled it was the exact shape of the aileron tab.  We popped the lead out of the steel form, drilled a hole in the lead and then a hole in the tab and took a bolt and affixed the lead to the tab.  We did it for the other aileron too.

It was now evening, about 1 hour before sunset.  Last day to qualify,  I’m nervous,  this should work,  but if it doesn’t...  I did the only sensible thing.  I chugaluged 2 beers. 

20 minutes later I felt just fine. I strapped on my parachute and climbed into the gull wing.  It was freezing and windy but the timers with their stop watches, where still at the table on the start finish line waiting for any last minutes qualifiers.

Now when you qualify, you can make as many laps as you want but on the lap you want them to time, you waggle your wings furiously so that they will know this is the lap that you want timed.  Off I went into the freezing sunset.  The gull wing flew beautifully but it was still gusty and I had my hands full of airplane.  I made 2 or three laps but since I wanted them to take the fastest lap I reasoned that it was so gusty that any lap would have looked like I waggled my wings.  To no avail.  No time was taken and, among other reasons, I was disqualified. But I had other things to worry about.  After qualifying the B-26 earlier that day the right engine had started to run rough and after I landed we determined that the magneto was bad and I needed another.  The only other magneto for a Pratt and Whitney R-2800 engine was in San Francisco and I arranged to have it hand carried to Stead.

After I parked the gull wing I went into the hangar where the B-26 was parked and found that the magneto had arrived.  We worked for the next 8 hours to take the old magneto out, install the new one, and then time the engine, a feat that was only possible with the help of an ace mechanic whose name I have forgotten.

I got to River House around 3am and got up at 7 to be out for the pilot briefings. It was then that I learned that I was given no qualifying times for the gull wing and had been disqualified.  I concentrated on getting the B-26 ready.

2 pm rolled around and it was time for the Silver Race.  I think there were 8 of us. I put on my parachute and climbed in the cockpit as all the other guys were starting their P-51's, Corsairs and Bearcats.

One minor problem, The left engine wouldn’t start.  Boost pump on, mixture off, mags on, a little prime.  The prop turned and turned and turned but wouldn’t start.  I figured that the starter was now about ready to explode with heat.  Everybody else was in the air.  This was going to be very disappointing.  Finally the R-2800 fired and started.  I quickly taxied out and with little or no run up charged on down the runway.

Unfortunately for me I had 3 handicaps going.  The first one was that I was exactly one half laps behind Bob Hoover and the other race planes.  Second, the radio in the B-26 might have well been a tin can with a string for all I could hear with 2 giant R-2800's turning at full power and three, I hadn’t listened carefully at the briefing.  All I heard at the briefing was “DON’T CUT ACROSS THE RACE COURSE UNLESS YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY”. But that rule only went into effect AFTER the race had started, not before.  I could have cut across and caught up with the field and this is exactly what Hoover was telling me to do but I couldn’t hear anything on the radio.  Bob tried to slow everybody in order for me to catch up but finally he had to start the race and I ended up about 6 or 8 airplane lengths behind the pack.

But it was fun.  I had both throttles as far forward as they could go. I had the pitch backed off 50 RPM (on the advice of Col. Ted Sturmthal who was a B-70 pilot, my friend and someone who knew about these things).  I had the cowl flaps full closed.

I was racing the largest airplane ever raced at Reno , a twin engine World War 2 medium bomber. I was flying with my left hand and my right hand was on the elevator trim wheel to help me equal out the trim forces between level flight and tight turns.  I concentrated on maintaining an exact altitude of 75 feet. This was for 2 reasons.  First, any lower and my wing tip would hit the ground in the turns and second, any changes in altitude, however minor, cause you to lose speed. When there was no airplane directly in front of me I had great difficulty making out the pylons.  They were just plain invisible.  I had to come up with other landmarks to guide me until I could pick out the structure of the pylon. I figured my greatest accomplishment in that race was not the fact that I raced such a large airplane but that I didn’t cut a pylon.  On the fourth lap I actually passed a P-51.  It was Tom Kuchinsky.  I was told later that (you have to understand the contempt with which fighter pilots hold bomber pilots) when I passed Tom that 3 fighter pilots committed suicide over the back of the grandstand. The race too soon came to an end and I dropped into trail formation, landed and taxied into the pits.  It was anticlimactic. Someone asked my what is was like to race that large an airplane and I told him it was great fun.

That was 1968 and I never raced again for various reasons.  No time, no money, no airplane were a few that I can think off.

In 1969 Dad had taken over the hangar at the west end and we watched that year.  1970 was Marilees first air race.  I remember I made her wear her pink jumpsuit in the freezing cold. We were all full of Vodka tonics at the end of the day so Marilee drove us home in one of Dads cars, driving like a maniac over the dirt road to the west of the main exit road thereby punching a hole in the gas tank.  1971 I think I was in DC-8 school.  1972 I was in Cambodia . 1973 I went. 1974 I went, 75 and 76 I was in Lebanon flying 707's for Trans Mediterranean Airways, 1977 I was in Egypt flying 707's for Aero America . 1978, 79 and 80 I made one or 2 of those.  1981 and 1982 I was in Egypt flying for Egypt Air.

I don’t remember after that until like maybe 93 or 94 Darryl Greenamyer and I were walking around the pits. 7 time National Air Race Champ Darryl commented They don’t remember us do they.

"Nope".

I couldn’t make it this year, but I know I would have loved talking to all my friends at Mom’s party and gorging myself with giant shrimp. Telling and retelling all the same stories over and over again. Sneaking up to the penthouse for a refill of XO.

I would have driven out to Stead with Moya, Jill and Alexandra walked into Mom’s office, gotten our badges, had a snack and out to the pits in the clean, clear air to watch the hustle and bustle.  To see a few friends who come up and shake my hand and ask me what’s going on and if I’d seen so and so lately and so on. After the friend leaves someone always asks who was that. Beats me. I can’t remember faces much less names. I’ve only been on this planet 56 years and on the planet I came from I don’t think we had to worry about that problem.

The upside of this years air races was that at the exact time of the unlimited races I was sitting in the patio of the Hacienda Hotel at LA International.  There was a cool breeze and I could imagine exactly what was going on at Reno .  The throaty roar of the unlimiteds whizzing by, the press of the crowd at the ropes, the afternoon sun and, best of all, I was already home.

 

 

 

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Above is John Lear's 26 shielded by Arthur J. Stasney's P51 at Van Nuys in about '64-66

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Mr Lears A-26 at Chico Cal

Serial #: 44-35898
Construction #:
  29177
Civil Registration:
  N3328G
  CF-PGP
  C-FPGP
Model: A-26C
Name: None
Status: Airworthy
Last info: 2007

 

History:
Lear Inc., Santa Monica, CA, 1961-1964.
- Registered as N3328G.
Lear Siegler Inc, Santa Monica, CA, 1966.
Aerospace Modifications, Coatsville, PA, 1969.
- Flew as race #76.
Air Spray Ltd, Edmonton, Alberta, July 1971-1976.
- Registered as CF-PGP.
- Flown as tanker #2.
Air Spray Ltd, Red Deer, Alberta, 1976-2003.
- Registered as C-FPGP.
- Flown as tanker #2.
Randal W McFarlane, Archerfield Airport, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 2006-2007.
- Ferried to Australia, Oct. 2006.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Mike "Kaptain Kaos" Wright in Don Davis's Puss in Boots in 1985.

Serial #: 44-34749
Construction #: 28028
Civil Registration:
  N4823E
  N4959K
Model(s):
  A-26B
  B-26B
  B-26C
Name: Puss In Boots
Status: Airworthy
Last info: 2002

 

History:
Rock Island Oil & Refining Co, Wichita, KS, 1960-1966.
- Registered as N4823E.
- Planned conversion to Monarch 26 not completed.
Hamilton Aircraft, 1968-1969.
- Converted to B-26C standard.
Delivered to FA Brasiliera as B-26C/5174, June 1969-1975.
ESPAer, Sao aulo, Brazil, Dec. 1975 - Instructional airframe, later derelict.
Don Davis/Tired Iron Inc, Casper, WY, Sept. 1984.
- Ferried from Brazil to US, 1984.
- Rebuilt as "Puss In Boots".
Guarantee Federal Bank, Casper, WY, 1987.
Airplane Sales International, Beverly Hills, CA, Aug. 1987-1988.
Abrams Airborne Manufacturing, Tucson, AZ, Oct. 1989-2002.
- Flew as USAF/85/Puss In Boots.
- Later flown as USAF/O-434749/BC-749/Puss In Boots.

Race: Unlimited Qualifying Date: 1985-09-09 Distance: 9.22 miles
Pilot Name: Wright, Mike Aircraft: Puss & Boots - Race 85 Type: A-26C Invader
Time: Speed: 301.482 Place: 99
Notes: Qualified at 30th - did not make field.


Race: Unlimited Bronze Date: 1985-09-15 Distance: 55.33 miles
Pilot Name: Wright, Mike Aircraft: Puss & Boots - Race 85 Type: A-26C Invader
Time: Speed: 283.960 Place: 8

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Serial #:
  41-39596
  64-17676
Construction #: 7309
Civil Registration:
  N268G
  C-GXTF
  N29939
Model(s):
  A-26B
  B-26K
  A-26A
Name: None
Status: Display
Last info: 2002

 

History:
Delivered to USAF as 41-39596
- Rebuilt as B-26K by On Mark, Feb. 16, 1965.
- Allocated to 603rd SOS/1st SOW "IF".
- Delivered MASDC, Davis Monthan AFB, AZ, Oct. 1969-1971.
State Of Georgia Forestry Commision, Macon, GA, 1971-1977.
- Registered as N268G.
- Stored unconverted, Macon, GA, 1972-1977.
Air Spray Ltd, Edmonton, Alberta, 1977.
- Registered C-GXTF.
- Delivered from Macon, GA to Billings, MT and stored, 1972-1978.
- Certification in dispute with Canadian DoT, 1972-1978.
Arne Carnegie, Edmonton, Alberta, 1978.
Arthur W. McDonnell, Mojave, CA, July 1978-1980.
- Registered N29939.
- Reported in Camo with "C-GXTF" markings, Mojave, CA, Oct. 1978.
- Flew in Mojave races as "The Mojave Kid", June 1979.
USAFM, Wright Patterson AFB, OH, 1981-2003

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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For the 1947 Bendix, the field was down to twelve aircraft and among them was Dianna Cyrus and her A-26B NX67807 Race 91 Huntress. Fitted with a bomb bay tank, a navigational error forced Dianna to land in Michigan and put her out of the running.

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dcyrus.jpg

Saved from the destruction suffered by most of its fellows, '776 was sold as N67807 in 1947 to Dianna Cyrus, gaining notoriety as 'Huntress', flown as air racer #91 and fitted with an auxiliary belly fuel tank. In the 1947 Bendix 'R' Trophy cross-country air race from Van Nuys to Cleveland, Ohio the aircraft failed to finish the race in which it was well placed, after Cyrus became lost and landed at the wrong airfield.

cyrus.jpg

a264434766w2.jpg

Serial #: 44-34766
Construction #: 28045
Civ. Registration:
  N67807
  N1243
  N910G
  N9150
  N26BK
Model(s):
  A-26B
  On Mark Marketeer
Name: Wild Thang
Status: Airworthy
Last info: 2002

 

History:
Delivered to Reconstruction Finance Corp as 44-34766
- Immediately put up for dispossal, 1945.
Dianna Converse Cyrus Bixby, 1947-1949.
- Registered as N67807.
- Flown as Bendix Racer #91/Huntress.
- Fitted with bomb bay fuel tank for Bendix cross-country race, 1947.
Stanolind Oil & Gas Co, Tulsa, OK, 1954
- Registered as N67807.
Pan American Petroleum Corp, Tulsa, OK, 1961-1964
- Registered as N1243.
Standard Oil Co (Indiana), Chicago, IL, May 31, 1965.
Nine Ten Corp, Chicago, IL, Aug. 4, 1965-1966.
- Registered as N910G.
Paramount Trading Co., Vero Beach, CA 1968-1969
- Registered as N9150.
Miami Aircraft Ventures Inc., Miami, FL, 19701972.
Vicky Miller, Burbank, CA, 1977
USAF Museum, Castle AFB, CA, 1983
- Displayed as USN JD-1 "34766" port side.
- Displayed as USAF 34766/Mary Jo starboard side.
V. Mark Johnson, Lakewood, CO, Dec. 1984-1987
Donald Douglas Museum, Santa Monica, CA, 1987-1990
- Displayed as 434766/Pretty Patti/J
Larry Leaf, Willston, FL, 1990-1991.
David Brady, Cartersville, GA, 1991-1992
- Damage in mid-air collision with Brady's T-37.
- A-26 landed safetly, Cartersville, GA, June 7, 1991.
Reva J. Brady, Cartersville, GA, Feb. 1992.
Museum Of Flying, Santa Monica, CA, 1993.
- Restored to executive configuration, Mojave, CA, 1993-1995.
Howard B. Keck/Thermco Aviation, Thermal, CA & Coachella, CA, May 25, 1994-2002.
- Registered as N26BK.
















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