Well the summer is flying by but a lot of neat things have happened for the project recently. Garron Frantzen, a friend of the projects lent the project a rolling gantry in order to lift the car or heavy components. I put it to work the very next day lifting the car up onto its work tables. Using it I built the brackets that hold the safety capsule onto the car. Here is a shot of what that looks like. I put the car back up on its’ rolling tables as working on it while it is on the ground was hard on my back.
Garron helps out on the car and the jump rocket when he is in the area as he is always on the move but he also works on all sorts of innovative projects of his own. Here is Garron with his 400 horse power helicopter gas turbine outboard boat motor. He mounted it on a large cigarette racing boat named “Radical” and he will be testing it soon. He also has a gas turbine motorcycle which he ran at Bonneville and has worked on a gyro stabilized two wheel car of the type futurist Syd Mead and Alex Tremulis predicted.
I have been working on the new model of Sonic Wind LSRV and it will be completed soon. I should have photos up by the next update. I also welded into the chassis most of the Titanium sphere brackets I built last month.
I started working a couple of days a month with Master Chief Mike Glenn and all the Navy guys that rebuild historic aircraft at Edwards Air Force base. Most of those guys are retired Navy “Airedale” personnel and spend one week a month working on historical aircraft in order to have them placed in museums.
I can only work a couple of days a month with them as I have to swing a hammer in order to pay my bills but someday when I retire I will join this rag tag bunch of old Swabs and work the full week with them. I have found my hobby in life.
Here is a photo of the 1946 vintage Northrop X-4 experimental jet aircraft in the paint booth getting its light grey paint job. Photos of this aircraft in books give the illusion that it was white in color but actually it was a light grey.
Its design was patterned after the rocket powered German Me-163 and was used in order to experiment with tail less aircraft designs of which Jack Northrop was also experimenting with at the time. The X-4 is the predecessor to the B-2 bomber.
It was flying in the late 1940s-50s and there were two of them built. Its sister ship is on display at the Wright Patterson Air Force base museum in Ohio. This one will be on display here at Edwards AFB. It is a tiny aircraft with clam shells that open on the wings in order to steer it. It is all mechanical and hydraulic in control. They tell me it was a pretty fair flyer and that Chuck Yeager himself was at one time at the controls.
While working with the Squids I fixed the canopy on a novel Piper PA-48 “Enforcer” aircraft. It looks like a P-51 Mustang with the Merlin engine removed and replaced with a giant YT55-L-9A a 2,455 horse power gas turbine engine taken out of a big helicopter.
It uses the prop from a Douglas Sky raider which has had the tips cut off in order to shorten it but the ends were not filled it. You can look down into the prop tips as they are actually open at the ends. When the turbine is wound up the prop tips whistle they tell me and it makes a weird sound unlike any other aircraft. They were tested and evaluated here at Edwards AFB in the 1970s -1984.
When I first saw it I thought “Hot Damn! That is the ultimate air racer.” Cut the wings back, put in a tiny canopy, trim the tail and hang on. But Mike told me that she wasn’t a speedster but more of a heavy lifter and she could carry a lot of ordinance and fuel. Huge extra fuel tank pods mount on the wing tips sort of like an F-80 jet or F-89 Scorpion uses and we will put those on later.
The role it was intended for was close ground support or insurgence attack. It looks like a North American P-51 Mustang but is based on the Cavalier Mustang that Piper made and only shares 10% of its parts with a real NAA Mustang. Cruise speed was 350 M.P.H. with 402 M.P.H. being the speed that bad stuff begins to happens at. Every pilot knows what I am talking about here.
The Enforcer is longer than a Mustang, weighs 7,000 lbs. empty and 14,000 lbs. looking for trouble. It was to do jobs similar to the Douglas A-1 through A-6 Sky raider or “Sandy” as the pilots used to call them during the Vietnam War but after years of testing and evaluation the project was abandoned.
Two of the four AP-48 ships built still survive. One is at Wright Patterson on display and the other I am working on! Now, how fun is that?
Another plane I got to work on was the Douglas F3D Sky knight. It was a twin jet engine Navy/Marine night fighter used during the Korean War. It needs two aviators just like modern day fighters. One flies the plane and the other manned weapons systems and ran the giant radar in the nose. It was the first aircraft to shoot down a Mig-15 during the Korean War. It was mainly a gun ship and this version had no missiles. It packed 4 -20mm Hispano Suiza cannons.
Later versions were the first to be fitted with early Sparrow missiles. The key to its success was that it could see you before you saw it. This is real important in combat, especially at night. The same thing applies to this very day as that is what stealth and super radars are all about.
Here is a shot of the F3D Sky knight which was originally evaluated at Edwards AFB and is why this one is still here after all these years. It will be refurbished and put on display at the museum at Edwards AFB.
The guys had recently finished demilitarizing a Lockheed Skunk works F-117 Nighthawk Stealth fighter. It is really a bomber but for some reason they call it a “Stealth Fighter.” My guess is so it would not have been confused with the soon to come Northrop B-2 Stealth Bomber.
I was walking around this particular plane and it looked sort of dull in color and its edges weren’t as sharp as I remember them and then when I saw “pop” rivets in some places I asked the chief…”What’s up with that, Stealth bombers don’t use pop rivets!” The chief educated me on the need for demilitarizing display aircraft.
You may not know this but the F-117 is mostly made of Aluminum with the stealth coatings (Spooky-secret stuff) applied to the outside of the aircraft. The coatings give the aircraft its low radar return. The aircraft is also faceted in shape like a jewel and that also deflects radar waves away from their point of origin in order to enhance radar invisibility. There are also a lot of composite panels which are made totally of spooky stuff.
It cost between $1-2 million dollars to demilitarize a Nighthawk and that is why of the 52 built only 5 are on display. All the spooky stuff coatings have to be scraped or ground off of the entire aircraft by hand. This is done by qualified “authorized” personnel with the proper top secret clearances. All the spooky stuff is then ground into dust that looks like black sand and then put into special “authorized” containers and buried in “authorized” special places that you will never know of.
Then the now all aluminum F-117 aircraft has the stealth intake grids removed which are also coated with spooky stuff and replaced with grids that kinda, sorta look like the original but are nothing like them at all. All secret spooky instrumentation and even special types of wiring made of special types of materials are removed in order for the “demil” to be complete. Any panels made entirely of spooky stuff are removed and replaced with exact copies made of aluminum.
So if you techno spies or souvenir stealing nerds have any ideas on chopping off a piece of a Nighthawk standing on a pylon or in a museum someplace and back engineering the material to see what stealth materials are made from, save your effort as all you will get is a piece of aluminum. That is why I tell people that even our technology of 50 years ago is light years ahead of what most nations are currently working on.
Whenever an operational stealth aircraft is on static display at an air show somewhere it is guarded usually at all four corners by specially armed and trained but smiling military personnel that are under orders to light up your world if you mess with the aircraft.
Do the spooky coatings and composite material panels really work in absorbing radar? You betcha, I remember taking VHS video with a Sony camera quite a few years ago when there was a B-2 and a Nighthawk on display at the Edwards open house.
I scanned the B-2 and took about four or five minutes of tape. When I got home and looked at the footage all the footage I shot was blurry except whenever I shot the landing gear the footage would be as clear as a bell. The reason was that the self focusing lens on my camera changed aperture size by using a radar like unit to measure distance from the camera lens to the subject being filmed.
When I shot the aircraft fuselage itself the spooky stuff absorbed the radar (microwave beam) from the camera and there was no return to be measured and so the camera lens opened up into an infinity shot. That is why it was always blurry.
Speaking of high tech aircraft I just read an article that DARPA is funding a Mach 20 aircraft project they want to have built it a few years. That means that the technology to build such a craft obviously already exists.
I don’t want to spend too much time on aircraft so let’s get back to land speed. If you go on the Bloodhound SSC site you will read that some unscrupulous company ripped the team off by making a fake CG commercial using their ideas and car concepts. Of course this company didn’t pay the Bloodhound team anything, no they just simply helped themselves. I think that is a good indicator of how honest their claims about their products probably will be. Be advised before you give these guys your money…..As my father always said…”The way a man does one thing is the way he does everything.”
This same company approached us a few months ago to run our Sonic Wind vehicle for their commercial. I said NO! But I contacted some really cool guys with cool cars like Jack Costella and George Calloway to see if they wanted to. Of course the company cutting the commercial didn’t want to pay anything and then didn’t even return any phone calls to tell us that so be advised before you buy their products.
Sadly, I have to tell you that Broadway Bob Metzler passed away. He was the guy that owned and ran Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wisconsin. He was the first guy to run jet, rocket, turbines, stockers and Nitro fuelers of all types together in two fantastic weekend long extravaganzas each year. I went to dozens of them. I watched guys like Arfons, Michaelson, McClure and Fredricks make unreal machines do unreal things at these meets.
Broadway Bob was the Hot dammed, best freakin race promoter there ever was or that there may ever be, Period! Bob had more personality in his little finger than most people have in their entire family. He will be sorely missed. Say a prayer of thanks for all he gave us and may God rest his soul. Here is a photo from another racing great Ky Michaelson which sums Broadway Bob all up in one incredible photograph.
I have been helping Michael Hughes set up his jump rocket and over the last couple of days we worked out the parachutes that will deploy and bring the jump rocket to the ground. We are using rockets to pull the chutes out from packs and the twin main chutes also have drogue chutes on them. They are actuated by Mike but if he reds out from a heavy G load then a heavy weighted handle will deploy them automatically even if Mike can’t. Here are a couple of shots of the rocket as it is now and on one shot I coerced Mike into doing a Slim Pickens Dr. Strangelove pose. He was pissed about doing it but I thought it was a classic.
Next I read a few land speed books I have been meaning to read for a few years now. First I read “Speed Duel” by Samuel Hawley. It depicts the famous Arfons/Breedlove speed duel of the mid 1960s. All I can say is that the book was great. The book has great research, detail and first hand anecdotes. You can get this book on Amazon.com. It is a five star deal!
Then I read “100 years of the land speed record” by Ferdinand CW Kasman. It is a tiny book but big on information. There were details in there on cars I had never heard of and you know I consider myself a LSR historian. Great job Ferdinand! I think you can get this one on Amazon also.
Speaking of books my buddy the famous writer Harvey Shapiro is working on a book about Gary Gabelich. Harvey is looking for first hand information he can use from former crew members of the Blue flame or friends or family of Gabelich in order to complete his book. If you want to be part of a historic book call me at (760) 900-5454 and I will forward your information to Harvey.
Lastly, you all know that I am the curator of the Vernon P. Saxon Jr. museum in Boron. California. I was telling you last month that some of the docents thought that the museum may be haunted. Well, when they all read my July update all the bizarre stories just seem to come right out.
Cathy Clabby said that she thought that she saw an Air Force military man in full dress uniform standing in the media room. Then when she looked again he was gone. There were stories of moving white lights and weird voices, strange thumping, pictures falling, etc, etc, etc.
Then our oldest docent Peggy Bracket, an old buddy of Pancho Barnes just said matter of factly, “Waldo, this museum is always visited by the spirits of Pancho and Colonel Saxon and that is just a fact. Everybody knows that.” Then she turned and went into the K and L restaurant and had her dinner…….Waldo