Rare Bear® Update
October 15, 2002
by: Sharon Coates


Tuesday, October 1st. was a major milestone for all fans and Fansponsors of the "Rare Bear". Our sacrifices and hard work paid off.

The "Rare Bear" made her first flight in Three years!

Just when it looked like we had an airplane and were headed for the Nellis AFB airshow and demonstration race, John Penney's wife, Stephanie, became very ill, to the point that John just couldn't leave her. It was touch and go as to whether John would be able to pilot the Bear for us, and although Stephanie is still in the process of recovery, she and John decided that he could leave her long enough to do 1 day of time on the Bear at Stead in Reno, Tuesday, then home for 1 day, then back to Stead Thursday afternoon to ferry the Bear to Nellis and pilot her there Friday, Saturday, Sunday and back to Stead Monday morning.

We all owe a great big THANK YOU to John for his effort and to Stephanie for her understanding. We all hope she has a speedy, complete recovery.

John had two flights Tuesday, one for about 30 minutes and the second one for about 50 minutes. Both went well except for an ongoing problem with the alternator system.One alternator heated up and quit on us. The other one was still fine.

Although I couldn't be there, Lyle called me right after the second flight to report.

He said when the Bear made her first low pass, every hanger at Stead emptied out and everyone started cheering and jumping up and down, and waving at John, (like he wasn't watching the instruments, and very busy).

Within hours of the second flight I had over 20 pictures sent to me through my E-mail address, some of which I am passing along for your enjoyment.

There were still a few small gremlins to fix Wednesday before John took her to Nellis, so the Engine and Airframe crew had to put in another long day, but as usual, they came through. They have become "Rare Bear" fanatics in a hurry.

John arrived Thursday afternoon and flew the Bear to Nellis AFB, where she was met by some of the crew, and put to bed for the night.

Friday was the first demonstration race, mostly for practice and media coverage.

The order of the parings was determined by drawing straws by the pilots of the 4 racers who could make it. John was hoping for last place so he could keep an eye on the instrument panel, as the Bear still had very little time on her. Wouldn't you know it, He got first place. Nothing comes easy with the Bear!

This flight went well. John showed everybody around the make believe course for 3 or 4 laps, then due to a delay on take-off, everybody started running out of water for the spray bar for the oil cooling system , so the demonstration had to be cut short, but you got to know, the Bear sure did look good up there, in front, right where she belongs. I did a little dance for all of you who couldn't be there. And for those of you who are inclined toward goose-bumps, I had a few of those, also.

Saturday's race went well with John and the Bear in the middle of the pack. This race lasted for 7 laps, and looked very real. The guys did a good job of presenting Air-racing to Las Vegas, including a planned may-day by Riff-Raff.

Mike had a small smoke system on Riff-Raff and just as he passed the home pylon, the engine coughed and a little puff of smoke came out. It was so real looking that I had a hard time convincing Lyle that it was planned.

When John landed, he informed the crew that the alternator was down again. We had been working on this particular gremlin since Reno and had hoped that the problem was solved, but it was not to be.

The crew scrambled, again, and traced it down to a bad battery. The battery was changed, the other components checked. The Bear was towed back out to the line and run-up and everything checked out ok, so she was put to bed for the night.

Everybody thought Sunday would be a piece of cake, but with the Bear, this is never the case.

The crew decowled her to check things out while Lyle watched. The crew spotted a bolt that was rubbing hard on one of the induction tubes This had to be fixed before the Bear flew again.

So much for the crew's lunch break. They worked as hard as they could go and just got the Bear cowled up in time for the Sunday demonstration.

This "race" was a beautiful thing to behold!

Skip Holm and Dago lead the pack, with the Bear and John right behind him. By the third lap the Bear was tucked up right on Skip's wing. When they came around to the start finish line, they were neck and neck. The next four laps remained the same, except when they came by the home pylon the Bear seemed to always be about a spinner in the lead.( OK, so I'm a little bit biased here, but that's the way I saw it.)

We were all sitting on top of Dago Red's trailer with their crew, so there were a lot of "discussions" as to who was ahead, but we took lots of pictures to prove our point, and nobody got thrown off the trailer. Somehow, I think if this had been Reno, we wouldn't have remained so friendly.

The announcers were unable to call the winner until about 1 hour later, at which time Dago Red was declared the winner by the length of the spinner, but you have to remember, they were watching from an angle, so the Rare Bear crew decided to forgive them, just this once.

The best part of this is: we came out of this healthy, with a proven engine, which has seated properly, and puts us in the drivers seat for next years airshows and Reno.

This engine has been paid for with donations ranging from $1000 down to one fan who sends me $1.00 a month, and apologizes for not being able to do more.

There are a number of people to thank, but, first and foremost, Lyle, the "Bear", John, myself and the crew would like to thank all of you fans out there who were willing to put your trust in us to help make this happen. We consider everyone of you part of the "Rare Bear Family".

We still have some insurance premiums to meet, and some bills to pay, and I'm not sure how we are going to do this, but, so far, through all of you fans out there, we have managed to meet the dead-lines, although it is making an old woman out of me.

We have also picked up a few cash sponsors, who are just as dedicated to the "Bear" as we all are.

Chris Jurack of OSI SOFTWARE flew to Nellis to join the team and watch the "Bear" fly. By the end of the Sunday race, he was hooked. After this race, whenever he talked about the "Bear" and the team, he would say "we", then apologize for taking the liberty. I explained to him that this was exactly what we were now, One big "Bear Family", and he was now part of it.

Howard Lowry of STINSON AIR CENTER was slated to fly in also, but at the last minute had a schedule conflict. We were looking forward to showing him what it was all about, and were disappointed when he couldn't make it. Howard is arranging to help us financially with a fixed amount each month, to help with
operating expenses during the off season. Next time Howard.

The DODGE BROTHERS AUTOMOTIVE of Granada Hills, CA have become one of our major cash sponsors. They helped the Fansponsor club pay for all the major engine parts ,plus, they helped pick up some of the wages we had to pay, for the initial assembly of the engine. They also helped transport the finished
engine and various part from Van Nuys to Reno, often during the middle of the night. They have become as dedicated to the cause as all of us.

Richard Rhinhardt of Western States Equipment Company was a great help in funding the air-frame end of the project, which was based at Stead. He and his company also went to Van Nuys, hooked up to the "Rare Bear" trailer and delivered it to Stead Airport for us, just before Reno 2002. This saved us valuable money to be spent on the "Bear".

We owe Challenge Publications and George Hulett and Michael O'Leary a big thank you, as these aviation magazines helped us spread the word about the sponsorship program at no cost.

We also have to thank the "New" crew, who have been giving it their all.

Without Dann Slinker and Emmanuelle Richard, we wouldn't even have an engine in one piece yet. Thank you for the 80 and 90 hour work-weeks. See you at Reno, if not before. I personally would like to thank Dann's wife, Sandy Slinker, as she has
become my right arm, when I am being pulled in a number of directions, at the same time. When we are on-site with he "Bear" and you can't find me, find Sandy Slinker.

The regular working crew, which consists of the Reno crew chief, Stacy Thomas, Dave Mooney, Scott "Chip" Crawford,Roger Martin, Scott Listler, Elliott White and Matt Thompson, Andrew Karolak, Ray Din and Mike Rettke have been giving it everything they have since coming on board. Thank you guys, as we couldn't have completed the first step without you. THE BEAR IS INDEED IN THE AIR!!

Charlie Brand of TUNA GRAPHICS has also become a sponsor and a new member of the crew through our new merchandise line. Without his help, we would never have been able to supply the new line of merchandise this year due to budget constraints.

We will be offering this new line on our web-store at
http://www.rarebear.com shortly. We've still got a long ways to go so, please stock up on the merchandise.

If any of you out there know of someone else who would like to help us make this happen, please tell them about our program, as we still have to fix the alternator system, do some air-frame work, cover the expenses of the "volunteer crew", pay the insurance premiums ( I will not even tell you how much these are, as it would scare you, but the "Bear can't fly without insurance), pay for some new gauges for the instrument panel, plus, there are still some bills to pay that were acquired from our marathon run to make Reno 2002.

We also have a chance to buy a R-3350, in the can with zero time, for a very good price, so we could begin work on a replacement engine, however, even though this should be at the top of our list, by necessity, we have had to drop it to the bottom of the list at this time.

We would also like to thank members of the "Rare Bear" crew who have been with her and Lyle for years, for hanging in there, as they are the walking encyclopedia for the technical stuff (like what makes her go fast) how the system works, etc.

Greg Shaw and Bill Hickle probably know the "Bear" better than anyone else, and were invaluable during the last 2 weeks before Reno.

Clark Thompson is working with OSI Software to install the new telemetry system, which should give us a BIG advantage over the competition.

Eric Ahlstrom handles all Radio installations, including the Garmin radio, which was loaned to us by Aviation Classic's electronic shop and Albie Reddick

Dale Kintop takes care of the Reno office for us, and does the banking for the team.

Dave and Barbara Wisenor have taken on the daunting task of managing the "Rare Bear" web-store for us. This is a never ending job, and they deserve our thanks.

Mel Gregoire, Wayne Richards, Tom Beardsley, Charlie Hutchinson and Shirlee Kurtz are a large part of the Van Nuys crew and were of immeasurable help while the "Bear was separated into two parts, the engine in Van Nuys and the airframe in Reno.

Last, but not least, we want to thank ALL the various companies, who have donates goods and services at cost or as outright donations to the "Rare Bear" team. Without this dedication from these companies to the ultimate goal of getting THE BEAR IN THE AIR, and winning the GOLD in 2003, we could have never made it this far.

Please take a minute of your time to scan this list of these companies, as we all owe them a great big THANK YOU!

Doug Coates Estate
Dodge Brothers Automotive
OSI Software
Stinson Air Center (Howard Lowry)
Western States Equipment Company ( Richard Rheinhardt)
Challenge Publications
Dan Dupre Aviation
Shell (Don Mattias and Paul Royko)
Aero Accessories
Aviation Classic's Ltd. and their electronic shop
AAFO.com (Wayne Sagar)
Solo Performance (Wayne Richards)
New Horizons
Crystal Springs Water
Oscar Margraf
OTTO Instruments
Pylon1.com ( Mark Kallio)
Scott's T's Shirts and Things
Sierra Welding Supply
Tuna Graphics ( Charlie Brand)
NAG (National Air Race Group)
Pacific Oil Cooler Service
Ni-Cad System's Inc.
California Propeller
C @ S Propeller
Hydraulic Industrial Services
Thunder Air of Burbank, Ca.
Blue Skies Aviation
SkyTronics of El Segundo, Ca. @ Craig Phillips, President

And last, but not least, we want to thank the Dago Red Racing Team for having the consideration to leave the 500 MPH lap for us to break, which we plan on doing next September at Reno, if possible, without damaging the engine. Thanks Guys!

For all of you fans who had your picture taken in the "Rare Bear" pits or were lucky enough to have a picture taken while sitting in the cock-pit of the "Rare Bear", we are working on this project and will let all of you know when the pictures are developed and ready to send.

The new 2003 patches and membership cards will be mailed out, right after the first of the year.

The winner of the Oil Painting Raffle done by Bret Donaldson was Ron Hagan of Reno Nevada. Congratulations, as you now have a collectors item.

Lyle, John, Myself, the "Rare Bear" crew, the cash sponsors, the companies who donated goods and services and most of all, YOU WONDERFUL FANS out there, have built the nucleus of a wonderful, close knit "Rare Bear Family", all dedicated to one cause,GETTING THE "RARE BEAR" IN THE AIR and WINNING THE GOLD IN 2003. Now, all we need is more members to add to this family.

On Behalf of the "Rare Bear" Air Racing Team Family

Sharon Coates

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