|In the spring of 1931, Granny attended Pearle's college graduation in Durham, New Hampshire. Shortly after, he went off, flying the newest small Sportster (NC11043) to air shows and races. The plane was a "Model D" with an in-line Menasco Pirate C4 engine. Because of its agility and its special fuel system for inverted flying, Granny thought the plane was capable of skywriting. For the first time, the little sport plane was seen to have potential as a commercial plane. But before going to the expense of adding a smoke system, he wanted to confirm his newest idea with the best skywriter in the business. Lewis Meler, famous for his "Lucky Strike" cigarette script, could be found in New York City. Mr. Meler took the Gee Bee through a flight test of imaginary skywriting and declared it perfect. Granny flew home to install an apparatus which injected oil and chemicals into the exhaust, where it burned, causing smoke. A trigger on the joystick controlled the release of the mixture. Upon its return to New York, Meler demonstrated the Sportster for the Skywriting Corporation of America. Zantford was delighted to see "Gee Bee" scrawled over Manhattan but disappointed when they did not purchase the plane. For now, the company was making no changes.|
Gee Bee "Model D" Airplane
Scanned by C. Jeff Dyrek
Bee Sportster ("Model D")
Gee Bee Airplane Model Z Specs.
& Whitney "Wasp" 1/8 Kit
This was a record setting power plant for many Golden Age racers
and military aircraft. Plastic kit is molded in two colors and consists
of more than 200 parts. Includes nine cylinders, crankcase, two magnetos,
carburetor, fuel pump, starter, propeller hub, display mount and much more.
|Gross Weight 2280 lb Empty Weight 1400 lb Useful Load 880 lb
Length (overall) 15 ft 1 in Cowl Diameter 46 in Span 23 ft 6 in Root Chord 50.4 in Rib Spacing 5.5 in Spar Spacing 25.5 in Airfoil M-6 Incidence Angle 3 deg Dihedral Angle 4.5 deg
Wing Area 75 sq ft Aileron Area 9.5 sq ft Stabilizer Area 8.4 sq ft Elevator Area 6.9 sq ft Fin Area 2.2 sq ft Rudder Area 4.9 sq ft
Landing Gear Travel 6 in Tires 23 inch Goodrich 6.5 x 10 Wheel Tread 71.75 in Wheel Fairing Width 10.5 in
Top Speed 270 mph,
Runway Requirement 5000 ft @ SL
Range 900 sm
Powerplant P & W Wasp Jr
Production 1 First Flight 8-22-1931
-Chrome Moly steel tube fuselage. - Covered with fabric.
Flight Controls Rudder - Cable Actuated Ailerons - Torque tube actuated Elevator - Push pull tube and double cables.
Notes: - Winner of 1931 Thompson Trophy at 236.24 mph - Qualification speed for 1931 Thompson (level flight, 1 pass each way, averaged) 267.342 mph - Larger 750 hp Wasp Sr, new prop and cowl were installed after the Thompson.
Farmers Take Flight by June Granville