Wednesday, July 28, 2010

PR: Bruce Bohannon's "Flyin Tiger" is for sale

“You are Cleared to 50,000 Feet.”

“It’s not every General Aviation pilot gets to hear that,” said Bruce Bohannon, as he recounted his last absolute propeller-driven altitude attempt. “Hearing ATC say that made the whole effort worth it.”

Bohannon, in his Flyin’ Tiger (also called the Exxon Flyin’ Tiger, depending on sponsorship), set 30 world records for time-to-climb and altitude. He and the ’Tiger still hold them all – the only machine to have ever broken any of those 30 records is… the Flyin’ Tiger, with Bohannon aboard.

The only time-to-climb record he doesn’t hold is the lowest, from brake release to 3000 meters, held by the 6-time Unlimited-class Reno champion Rare Bear, “and that airplane has more horsepower than mine has rivets,” Bohannon notes.

The result of Bohannon’s vision and work, a design that originated with Dick Van Grunsven (though Van takes no credit for the Flyin’ Tiger’s results, explaining that the original design and the final product are truly two different things!), and untold hours of work by crew chief and master fabricator Gary Hunter, engine man Phil Haponic (then of Mattituck), and turbo guru Ralph Benway, the Flyin’ Tiger blasted holes in the sky that no other airplane has equaled.

Among the records held are all but one of the time-to-climb, unlimited piston altitude records (unlimited displacement, induction, engine size, number of engines…), as well as unlimited piston-power altitude records – in excess of FL410. Way in excess: Bohannon flew officially to 47,067 feet, and 47,530 unofficially. (The altitude was verified, but not high enough to break his old record by a sufficient amount to go into the official record books.)

With these accomplishments, Bohannon was the only man ever to win two Blériot Prizes in consecutive years; and the next year, he became the only one to ever have won three – all in the Flyin’ Tiger.

The Flyin’ Tiger is for sale. It’s in Texas, ready to fly. More fun, more history, and more officially-sanctioned performance records than any aircraft that’s ever been available to the public. For about the price of a new complex piston single or basic twin.

Bohannon says, “I’d like it to go to someone who appreciates what the Flyin’ Tiger is and what it’s done; someone who wants to experience this historic (and really high-performance) machine, and then donate it to a worthy museum.”

Of course, there is a lot of knowledge and development that goes with this machine. It’s knowledge that took the best in the business many years to gain. It all goes to the new owner in beautiful original condition, and without the pain.

Qualified parties should contact Bruce Bohannon:

More info on records:
(and thanks to the NAA for the cover of the 2003 edition of the record book!)


Anonymous said...

I got a bunch of old magazines and was reading about Mr. Bohannon's attempts here and there, but ran out of magazines before I could get the ultimate story. It was sad to see Bruce never got to FL500, but he got amazingly close. Heck, closest I ever got was FL400 on an Alaska flight...and that's cheatin'! Hats off to Bruce for giving his best! And thanks for a great story.

eTimC said...

Bruce is a real inspiratation to poor kids and slow learners - I met him at a small filling station/convenience store shortly after moving to Alvin - I had read about him but never seen a picture of him outside of his plane - we talked about flying and his old RV-4 - never once did he tell me who he was - found out a couple years later when I recognized a photo of him on google image search - Here is a link you might enjoy - an interview that is both motivational and inspirational and exciting to read