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P_7878

Alabeo Gee Bee over Wyoming Photoscenery

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Gee Bee ("G B" stands for "Granville Brothers" (Zantford, Thomas, Robert, Mark and Edward)) was a unique and novel aircraft. In particular, Gee Bee Model Z (subject of this post, and made famous via the film The Rocketeer) was the first of the Super Sportsters built by the Granville Brothers Aircraft of Springfield, MA. It was created with the sole intent of winning the prestigious Thompson Trophy. Just as (one of the few still continuing) famous Reno Air Races (1st race 1964), Thompson Trophy was one of the National Air Races of the heyday of early airplane racing in the 1930s (it lasted 1929-1961). It was the period of aviation when daring pilots, with nerves of steel, for the name of speed and glory, climbed into aircraft that pushed the very edge of aerospace technology! What's remarkable about the Thompson Race is that the Winning Speeds during all these years of operation clearly show the progression in aviation technology and performance. In 1929, the Winning Speed was 194.5 mph (Travel Air Mystery Ship Type R), and in 1961, it was 1304.0 mph (Convair B-58A Hustler). Gee Bee Model Z was the Winner in the 3rd year (1931) Thompson Trophy Race with a speed of 236.2 mph.

Gee Bee was regarded, at the time, as the "fastest" and "most dangerous" airplane in the world! Note the Warning plate in cockpit shot below, "THIS AIRCRAFT IS AMATEUR BUILT AND DOES NOT COMPLY WITH FEDERAL SAFETY REGULATIONS FOR STANDARD AIRCRAFT". The company lasted a short 5-year period from 1929 until 1934. Imagine the smallest possible air-frame constructed around the most powerful available engine, a supercharged Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine, producing, for the time, an incredible (up to) 800hp of raw power - a combination that eventually proved to be aerodynamically unstable.

Anyway, here, below, please find Gee Bee Z, on a relaxed scenic tour (rather than a breathtaking race), across northwest Wyoming from Cody (KCOD) to Lander (KLND). This region of Wyoming is pure mountain country, where high peaks some of which remain snow-capped year-round tower above deep, glacier-carved valleys. It contains some of the tallest, most spectacular peaks of the Rocky Mountain Range - Gannett Peak (13,804') and Grand Teton (13,770') being the tallest two. Hope you enjoy these pictures along with remembrance of this rather peculiar (but short-lived: first flight Aug 22, 1931; retired Dec 5, 1931; number built 1) aircraft. Thanks for viewing. [Alabeo(Gee Bee)/MSE(Wyoming)/REX]

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Very interesting read and beautiful photos. Per the pilot tips it looks like flying that is quite the handful. It sounds like it will make the A2A Mustang seem like a Cessna. :laugh:

Ted

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3770k@4.5 ghz, Noctua C12P CPU air cooler, Asus Z77, 2 x 4gb DDR3 Corsair 2200 mhz cl 9, EVGA 1080ti, Sony 55" 900E TV 3840 x 2160, Windows 7-64, FSX, P3dv3, P3dv4

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Great story and shots, P_7878. I have her too, incredibly difficult to master! How did you manage to bring yourself back safe to terra firma 😉 

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***Love This Little Gem***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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F16-instruments.jpg

Patrick

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Thanks, all....and, Ted, Lewis, John, Bernd, Patrick: Appreciated the comments and observations.

[Bernd: Yes, as you have already noticed with your own Gee Bee, this is no "regular" aircraft....a fast plane with no Flaps and no Trims involved...so hard to control especially for landing - here, of course, this non-pilot speaking, so please use the words with "caution"...🙂...! But, the 90-95 landing speed (as noted in the (original) flying tips placard - thoughtfully included by Alabeo), is just about right. And, I have never been able to get rid of bounces on touchdown (need more practice, maybe!)...and of course, early braking is disastrous...but, overall, it's a fun aircraft to fly...if not for bush-flying...]

And, next, I did my due diligence to learn a bit more about my own post, after the comments here. Below are some additional notes, I gathered:

This plane was conceived during and start of the Great (Global) Depression (which had started in U.S. in 1929). The Great Depression was tough on the aircraft industry (many start-ups failed), especially the sale of luxuries like the small sport planes the Granville Brothers built. So, their decision was made to build racers in hopes that prize money could help support their dwindling sales. Gee Bee went on to win many rewards and prizes...but the pilot, Lowell Bayles, who won multiple races of the time with the aircraft, including being the winner of the 3rd Thompson Trophy, that I'd mentioned above, (with a $7500 Reward money in 1931 Dollars), later met with tragic end...while attempting a Land-plane speed record. Imagine trying to go at (or above) 300mph at barely 75-100 feet above the ground (with the rudimentary 1930s instrumentation, seen above). The mystery of that accident continued to engage aviation specialists for a very long time, and was solved in later years as being due to "aileron flutter" caused at very high speeds (> 250mph here), now known to be controlled by delicately placed extra weights under the wings for counter-balance...

In any case, the Gee Bee aircraft (with its share of controversy) may have now disappeared from the real skies, but it remains a fascinating testament to the remarkable spirit of human achievement and adventure in the realm of aviation...!

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