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Bohannon Sets Sights On Time And Climb


EAA Member Bruce Bohannon

April 6, 2006 — At his traditional Sun 'n Fun media breakfast, on Wednesday, April 5, EAAer Bruce Bohannon laid out the coming plans for his Flyin' Tiger. Since introducing the highly customized RV-4 to the world at Sun 'n Fun in 1999, Bruce has set 30 world records in the airplane, which is the fastest climbing unlimited piston engine aircraft (Class C-1) in history to 6,000 meters (19,695 feet), 9,000 meters (29,528 feet), and 12,000 meters (39,370 feet).

One time-to-climb record remains, to 3,000 (9,483 feet) meters, a mark of 1 minute, 31 seconds set in 1972 by Lyle Shelton in the modified Grumman F8F Bearcat Rare Bear. With a nod to long-time sponsor Teledyne Mattituck Services, "It may take a few engines to get everything dialed in," Bruce said, "but I think this airplane will do it."

One record that's eluded him is the climb to 50,000 feet. Hoot Gibson designed a new wing for the Tiger, and his figures said it produce a 200 fpm climb 47,000 feet, where the airplane in its current configuration reached a performance plateau (and set an absolute record of 47, 067 feet and the horizontal flight record at 46,919 feet for Class C-1.b). At that rate it would take 15 minutes to reach 50,000 feet, "which is longer than I want to send up there." After working the numbers, Bruce said the extra power created by a nitrous oxide system would get him to the goal in half the time.

With the pursuit of new goals, 2006 also marks the end of one of aviation's most recognized sponsorships. ExxonMobil hired the Tiger to help launch its Elite oil, and it has completed its mission, Bruce said. As the team seeks a new major sponsor, it will continue its quest to better the existing climb and altitude records.

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