October 15, 2002
by: Sharon Coates
Did It - THE BEAR IS NOW IN THE
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Doug Coates Estate
Dodge Brothers Automotive
Stinson Air Center (Howard Lowry)
Western States Equipment Company ( Richard Rheinhardt)
Dan Dupre Aviation
Shell (Don Mattias and Paul Royko)
Aviation Classic's Ltd. and their electronic shop
AAFO.com (Wayne Sagar)
Solo Performance (Wayne Richards)
Crystal Springs Water
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.
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