|03/30/99 AAFO.COM UPDATE
After nearly two years of hibernation, the rarest of all the Grumman Bearcats has come out of the dark of the hanger into the light of threatening Reno skies. With a bad weather report for the next day, the crew put the final touches on the engine swap to get race #77 ready for her flight back to home base. The gremlins, long asleep with the worlds fastest Bearcat, showed their ugly heads during early testing after installation of the new engine. A brake problem (brakes only on one side) nearly grounding the effort to beat the approaching weather front.
Satisfied the brake problem had been resolved, Rare Bear's new race pilot Matt Jackson finally got the flight underway late Sunday (3/20). Plans were to fly the Bear to Mojave for preliminary testing and to shake out the cobwebs from the long storage at Reno. Rare Bear will get her final modifications and tuning at the team's base at Van Nuys. As of Wednesday last week (3/24) reports were that the airplane was in Mojave, still showing a few scars from the damages she suffered at Reno '97, with work on the pesky brake problem continuing.
We've received a few questions regarding possibilities of a switch by Team Rare Bear from the present 3-blade prop, back to the 4-blade configuration. A team spokesperson gave us this insight. "There is talk of a 4-blade, but the blade isn't ready, and Matt hasn't driven the plane around enough to not like the 3-blade.......It is very much up in the air. The 4-blade is the prop that they used years ago. Its been in the weather ever since, so as far as clean up, you're guess is as good as mine."
So there you have it, The Bear is finally out of hibernation. Chances to see this beast run against the competition at Reno '99 are very good. And the competition is shaping up to be some of the best seen at Reno in many years.... We said it last year..... This year's Reno is looking like one of best in the modern history of air racing. Does it get any better than this? It just keeps getting better! Stay tuned as we follow the preparations, tell you who's coming and who's not, who's doing what and how the work on the worlds fastest piston airplanes is progressing..... Then get those room reservations, stock up on film and we'll see you in the pits at Reno '99!
story by: Wayne Sagar
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