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All Aviation FlightLine OnLine RENO 98! -UPDATE-

New and Improved Voodoo

FlightLine Update 6/11/98-

Pegsus - Reno 1992 (16k)Voodoo Chile has been getting some serious attention as of late, the kind of attention that makes things go fast! Currently undergoing various modifications by Bill Destefani’s Warbird Shop in Shafter, CA - she is starting to come together and could very well be a force to be reckoned with during the upcoming Reno '98 event. The aircraft, formerly Bill Spear's Pegasus, made her debut at the 1995 Phoenix 500 Air Races and was flown by (then 'rookie' pilot) "Hurricane" Bob Hanna. For the air race fan, it was good to see that the aircraft would again be campaigned on the race circuit. Now, some three years later, we will perhaps see Voodoo Chile in top racing form for the first time. As one source stated after viewing the aircraft today, "It's gonna be slick!"

Voodoo Chile - Phoenix 500 - 1995Taking the best aerodynamic "knowns" from Strega and Dago Red, and also incorporating some new designs, Bob Button’s Voodoo Chile will soon have what it takes to compete with the big boys. Some of the modifications to the aircraft will remain known only to a select, "need to know", group, but we can at least discuss a few. Last year we saw Voodoo Chile in bare metal finish - with her new racing canopy. This year the modifications will be less discernible, however these mods will be far more effective in Voodoo’s quest for speed.

The wing has received extensive modifications including an aft faring similar to, but more pronounced than, that of Strega. The most obvious modification from stock is that the Voodoo Chile - Reno 1996 (13k)wingspan has been shortened (or "clipped") to approximately 32 feet. Voodoo Chile has always had clipped wings - and at Reno '97 appeared with a clipped horizontal tail as well. But what’s new and not so apparent is that the area of the wing surrounding the main gear wheel wells, and the covers themselves, have been aerodynamically "enhanced". Changes also include putting a super slick surface on the top and bottom of the wing. We haven't been able to ascertain the wing tip design, but it is rumored to be akin to what Dago Red currently has. More than a few well placed individuals have stated, "Basically, the wing is now a 'Dago Red' clone."

Voodoo Chile - Reno 1997 (16k)The aircraft has also been fitted with a new all composite engine cowling and new carburetor intake (a'la Strega) and it has been reported that it will be sporting a "new design" radiator scoop and aft door. Not much is known about this new scoop - we’ll have to wait until September to see what it looks like - but we know that Strega’s scoop and spray-bar design has added some 15 mph+ to its top speed. We also know that a member from the Dago camp is assisting in these modifications. The new design scoop may indeed add even more speed to Voodoo Chile. However, scoop and spray-bar design is a closely guarded secret among competitors, so this will likely remain an unknown.

Aside from all the aerodynamic mods, we are left with the main component of a winning aircraft - the powerplant. The one chosen for Reno ‘98 will be a Dwight Thorn prepared race-ready Merlin. For those of you who don’t already know - Dwight’s engines are race proven winners and are the engines of choice for Unlimited competitors such as Dago Red and Strega. Dago’s 1996 qualifying speed of 490+ mph should give you a pretty good idea that these engines are capable of producing blistering speeds!

Will this "Strego" clone perform as well or better than its contemporaries? Who's to say one way or the other. Initial plans call for the work to be completed approximately August 1st with Bob Hanna slated for the piloting duties during initial shakedown flights, as well as the primary pilot for the Reno event. One thing is certain, if the work is completed on schedule and all systems check-out race ready, then it will definitely be well placed to take its spot among one of Reno's fastest Unlimiteds.


That’s about it for now but rest assured we're still digging for the good stuff.

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Story, Photography and graphic processing: Mark Kallio

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