Home of Wasabi Air Racing

Elliot Seguin and Jenn Whaley's Formula One class air race team based out of Mojave, California. Pylon racing at the National Championship Air Races in Reno Nevada. Eight airplanes racing head to head around telephone poles in the desert. Mojave is the best place on the planet to build and modify a race plane, and Wasabi is lucky to have the best support in the business.

Friday, December 26, 2014

GT-400 Flight Report

Hey Guys

Below is the report for my flight in the GT-400.  The flight focused on getting familiar with the airplanes systems, and the report reflects that.  We plan to do more quantitative performance and handling testing in the coming months.

Airplanes are cool,

Ralph Wise is a long time airplane designer and builder with nine airplanes to his credit.  During Vietnam he was a Marine Fighter Pilot flying A-4s and F-4s.  He started his first race plane project in 1971 when he was still active in the marines, building the modified Owl OR-65 (Race 22) in the living room of the house he was renting off base in Yuma.  He raced the airplane and eventually built another Owl, this one a OR-68, race 7, that he named Wise Owl.

Ralph's OR-65 Race 22
While competing in the CAFE races at Oshkosh in 1980 with the Wise Owl Ralph lost a propeller blade on his aluminum Sensenich propeller just outside of Fon Du Lac Wisconsin and ended up landing in a farmers driveway.  This prompted a development program by Ralph and George Owl to find an alternative to the troublesome aluminum propellers.  George designed and Ralph built and tested  wood core propellers that eventually took Ralph to a top qualifying speed in race 7.  When George died Ralph continued the work tweaking the design of the propeller and testing it on his racer.

Formula racers, Aloha in #1, Race 5 Cassutt in #2, Ralph in Wise Owl in #3, and the Wagner now Miss U (link)
Ralph's other projects included a Sea Hawker Amphibian, a Yak-11, and a personal favorite the RW-500 unlimited bid.  The RW-500 was a Owl sized Unlimited racer that Ralph planned to power with an automotive V-8, without a gearbox.  Because of Ralph's experience with carving propellers, it made sense to carve the propeller for the RW-500.  The fact that the Chevy needed five thousand RPM to make the required power is less of a leap when you consider Ralph's props were already turning four thousand on the IF1 course.  And the idea of a hand built prop turning 5k is so freaking awesome, I don't have words.  The airplane was also briefly configured with a 540 Lycoming.

Ralph and the RW-500 in 1986 by Dan at AAFO (link)
The RW-500 on display at the Milestones of Flight Museum, Photo David Lednicer (link)
Once Ralph saw that the Rare Bear set the world propeller speed record of 528 MPH in 1989, he started to second guess the program.  This re-baselining of the program ended up with a completely new airplane, the GT-400.  The GT is a two seat tandem touring aircraft with a composite fuselage and an aluminum wing, it is powered by a Continental 520.  Ralph designed and built the airplane over 12 years, culminating in a first flight in 2004.

The GT-400 at the Mojave Experimental Flyin (link)