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Miss Ashley II: The Scoop on The Scoop

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By the time you read this, one of the most radical race planes to ever challenge the high desert pylons at Reno, will be well on her way to the official debut of her new look at the EAA Convention at Oshkosh. We've been promising to provide the first look at the newly modified Miss Ashley II for a long time here at the "-Inside Air Racing-" division of AAFO.COM - Well, here it is!

We've been watching this race team very closely since our first look at the unknown, paintless airplane, over two years ago. 1997 saw Miss Ashley II's first go at the Reno pylons result in a distinctly respectable fourth place finish. With only 50 hours on her tach, this scratch-built airplane and her team, firmly placed themselves on top the "racers to watch" list. Since that time, the Levitz Rogers Racing Team has worked virtually non-stop to improve on the original design and incorporate major changes to the already slick airframe. This latest modification is the most noticeable visual change to date.

AAFO.COM first learned of the plans for a radical new belly scoop design being readied for MA2 earlier this year... and, as promised, we've kept our mouths shut..... (with GREAT difficulty we might add!).... Until NOW! Miss Ashley II designer/builder, Bill Rogers, actually let the cat out of the bag, (well sort of), in an interview with him late in 1998. We were talking about the ingestion of an airborne fowl by the Lear winged hybrid racer early in the 1998 Gold event. (exact species still unknown at present... DNA test results were inconclusive ;-) What was known at the time, was that the bird had excellent eyesight and timing, being able to both spot the contra rotating twin three prop combo of Miss Ashley II's massive Griffon and time the passage through them, totally intact, only to find the irresistible force of the intake scoop on the upper cowling. "It shows just how efficient those NACA ducts are" said an amused and disbelieving Rogers, after finding the remains of the "unknown avian soldier" lodged within the confines of the Griffon's intake system. And yes, that intake scoop housed in the upper cowling of the Griff's shrouds is, indeed, a bona fide NACA duct.

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With that thought firmly lodged in their minds, Rogers and company began to re-think a project they had not had time to bring to fruition in the original build of the racer.... That plan was to create a completely different intake scoop design for the cooling system. For many years, Reno has fostered design after design in this area of the P-51 based airplanes raced in this sport. Fairly high speed gains have been achieved with several of the attempts in this area. One aircraft, Stiletto, completely removed the belly cooling system replacing it with a boil-off, wing based cooling design. The design did well enough to win her the Reno '84 championship (this airplane has since been restored to totally stock configuration).

NACA ducts are known commodities, you'll see them on very fast race cars as well as on many commercial aircraft. A design phenomenon, NACA ducts, essentially, present a flat surface to the approaching airflow. This does leave the drag factor of the internal ducting and cooling components to be dealt with and this is an area of cooling system design, of which, NO team is eager to divulge details! The formula for the sizing of the NACA inlet and duct, requires a distance from the oil cooler and radiator not Click Here For Closer Look

available on a conventional winged Mustang. Due to these limitations, the NACA has never successfully been used on a "stock" Mustang configured Reno Racer. Enter MA2 and her hybrid "LearStang" configuration, allowing an additional 18 inches between the radiator and gear doors. The door for successful implementation of NACA duct cooling, on a Mustang based airplane, opens......wide!

As of this writing, test pilot, Skip Holm, after successfully completing initial flight testing of the new design, has begun the first leg of his trip to OSHKOSH. Much work remains to complete the total package for MA2's run at Reno '99. Additional nitrous and telemetry systems, are among the improvements still to be added for this year. New gear doors and a much stronger system to raise the gear and keep the gear doors closed

are already completed. (problems in this area plagued the team last year) The story of the Levitz-Rogers, Desothane HS Topcoat System, Miss Ashley II "LearStang" is far from completed! Stay tuned to AAFO.COM's "-Inside Air Racing-" coverage of this Reno National Championship Air Races entry.......

Story and photos -Wayne Sagar-
Special thanks to the Levitz-Rogers Racing Team for taking the time out of their extremely busy work schedule to pull the racer out of the hanger and ready her for our photo shoot!

{Editors note: We were witness to a race team working with un-stoppable determination and unity of purpose in the last stages of getting this airplane ready for the flight to Oshkosh. People from neighboring hangers at Paine Field dropping by to say hello, then joining in the work for hours on end shows the intoxicating allure of this project. The dedication of these men and women of the sport of air racing and those who contribute their skills to further their goals, continues to foster awe and admiration in this writer. A project, such as Miss Ashley II, is simply mind boggling in its scale and complexity, yet it is done! To create such a beautiful example of machine art, primarily from raw materials and imagination... Words can not describe my feelings. We beat the photo lab in our publishing deadline for this story, there are many more photographs of the effort and the final product. Some of the final roll we shot is seen here (thanks to COSTCO 1hr lab!), there is no way these photos convey the actual feeling of seeing this airplane sitting on the ramp finally completed! She was completely breathtaking! Prior to beginning writing about it, I watched this sport for many years from the grandstands and as a casual observer in the pits. There is simply no way to understand the amount of work and personal sacrifice by the teams that race at Reno until you experience, first hand, the effort involved to get such an airplane ready for flight after a massive redesign/rebuild. Our hat is off to this fine group of motorsport competitors and all those who help bring such beauty to life!}

The 1999 Reno National Championship Air Races Will Be Held September 16-19 At Stead Field, Reno Nevada. Qualifying and Practice Events Run September 13-15 And Offers Some Of The Most Exciting Action Of The Entire Week. For Ticket And Lodging Information go to:

Report originally published and copyrighted 1999 Airport Fence Productions, Inc.


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