Warren “Red” Hunnicutt

Red Hunnicutt was 94 years young when he flew west on June 8th. In January, 1993, he joined friends to form the Kiffin Yates Rockwell Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

28 years later, we’re thankful to have some of our founding members still flying and encouraging members who have joined since the first gavel fell.

Warren was, according to an elusive source, a machinist, tool and die maker, airplane builder and a great source of motivation and support for other builders. His Marquardt Charger, bright shiny red, was built from plans and featured, front and center, on the ramp at the “Wings Over Asheville” airshow in September of 1993.

As time went by, Warren took on another interesting project, a “90% completed, 90% to go” (his description) Range Rider, lacking only 1 wing, landing gear and engine … plus, plus, plus … you know how it is. The newness of that one eventually wore off, but Warren was undeterred … airport bums are airport bums. But eventually even airport bums slow down.

Photo of Red by Simon Jennings in 2020

On June 8, 2021, Red went to his hangar in the morning. He loved being there, didn’t know it would be for the last time. He left for home and died later that day. This was not known when, at about 5pm, members of EAA Chapter 1016 set up tables and a barbecue grill at the Western North Carolina Air Museum. There were hamburgers and bratwurst and Italian sausages, potato salad, beans and goodies to eat. About 40 members and friends were there. The show went on even when the projector wouldn’t work and there were many conversations about airplanes and airports and people and airplane people.

Red would have liked that. Happy Landings, friend.

June 2021 Meeting Recap

It was really nice to see everyone on the 8th for our second meeting of this post-COVID year .. Attendance doubled from the May meeting, partially due to the internet hackers’ failure to devise a nefarious plan to make us want to stay home. I-26 did it’s thing, though, with an accident down the mountain that delayed Gary Garner and his wife in traffic for over two hours and caused them to miss a real celebration that was lined up for their 53rd wedding anniversary .. Mark Cigal had his RV-8 all ready for Mrs. Garner to take a ride and the cake was ready for them (and us) to enjoy. Being aviation people, we enjoyed the cake anyway. Gary and Mrs. Gary: We owe you one.

The burgers and brats were on the grill early and great conversations ensued.

Our meeting began at 7 as planned and a quick recap as to where we are and where we’re going followed. A couple of key points: Gary Garner is assembling information for an application to be sent in to EAA for their B-17 to visit Asheville next year. That was a great fundraiser for us and a lot of fun for our members. It’s also a lot of work lining up support from local businesses and the Asheville Airport. Gary put this together in 2016 and raised some $4,500+ for the chapter.

We are also asking for ideas for a new design for shirts and patches. Keith Plemmons did this for the Skyote community and others have talked about projects along this line. Please think about it and let’s see what we come up with.

Antony Pretorius wrote me back in April to say he wanted to step down as Young Eagles Coordinator .. he has been promoting Young Eagles for the past 12 years and he said it’s time for someone else to take it up. I’ve been sitting on this for all this time thinking he might change his mind but he hasn’t and so we’re looking for a Young Eagles Coordinator. Antony isn’t stopping his work with young people, promoting aviation; he is accompanying a young man and his father – a member of comedian Steve Martin’s area band, the Stone Canyon Rangers – to AirVenture at Oshkosh, along with another young fella – member Chuck Throckmorton on his first visit to the Mecca of experimental aviation. That sounds like a great trip and I hope we’ll have a full report in August.

At this point we were all looking forward to a much anticipated program by member and Technical Counselor Keith Plemmons on the Skyote project which has been his life for the past 4 years … but there came a hitch: We needed a certain kind of connector to link his laptop computer to the museum’s projector and we didn’t have one. This was a huge disappointment to Keith and for all of us as well .. he had worked really hard on a great presentation. But then, Keith came back with an impromptu, well thought out and informative, description of his decision to build the Skyote and the discoveries he made along the way. There were no plans as such, no books, no assembly instructions; the parts were described with dimensions, angles, placements but nothing anyone would think of as detailed plans, anyone but a builder like Keith. When someone begins describing parts in thousandths or ten-thousandths of an inch, it’s over my head, but then I had just been with Tim Higgins to Ray Moore‘s shop ( see the previous post) to see his B-17 work so maybe I did get an idea of this level of skill. At the end of his talk, I had a real appreciation for Keith and his commitment and I’m hoping to visit him one day soon to see his setup in person.

I admit I felt Keith’s letdown both as president and as a friend. For that, I apologize to Keith and to those in attendance. The chapter had presentation equipment at one time, I’m told, but whether or not we did back then, we will by next month’s meeting — with all the connections.

The goof-up with the equipment for Keith’s presentation is, I guess, part of starting up again after a long layoff .. at least that’s what one of our members told me .. so we’ll carry on (but I won’t forget it).

Thanks to Tim Higgins for bringing and showing parts for his RV-12 project. Tim says his shop is in the last stages of setup and is ready for work to proceed.

We signed up or renewed three new members at the meeting who are also members of the national EAA and another new member is looking for our online sign-up and the PayPal link member Brian Leverson set up at https://chapters.eaa.org/eaa1016

As your president, I’m really glad to see that our chapter is serving as a base for all our members, old and new, to make connections on all levels .. from building to flying to discovering common interests beyond the aviation community. When all is said and done, isn’t it true that our friends, old and new, are what it’s all about?

Until July 13th … Fly safe … Build strong and light … stay well …

-alex

Ray Moore’s B-17

How in the world do you describe a man, obsessed with the complete, true, accurate reconstruction of a World War II bomber? Meet Ray Moore through Tim Higgins’ pictures from our visit to Ray’s shop at the Asheville NC airport.

Ray (left) explains a bulkhead and its component parts to a thoroughly attentive visitor (me). Ray makes this particular piece for several B-17 restoration efforts going on across the country. He has a hand in almost all the projects worldwide.
Some of the many brackets destined for a bulkhead. Some are old, some are new, all are faithfully recreated including the washed or dipped primer in the manner they were originally done.
When Ray started, he had to figure out how to start. He says things like these jigs just come to him, like learning to weld, learning electrical wiring and so on. He is entirely self-taught. He made these jigs on his own without a model to go by. There are a lot of details to consider when you’re building a B-17.
Some components come in, badly damaged from impact or mishandling. In this case, the section was cut away from wreckage by uninformed or hasty workers who further bent and twisted the fuselage components with forklifts and other labor saving devices (for them). Ray is looking at hundreds of hours of work to fix the salvageable pieces but this section could fly again!
This aft fuselage section is destined for Ray’s own B-17, “Lucky 13”. His great uncle Marvin was a maintenance director during the war and Lucky 13 was one of his ships. It was damaged and ran out of fuel returning from a bombing raid to Stuttgart on September 6, 1943. The crew bailed out successfully and the airplane crashed in France. None of the crew lost their life; 3 returned to England, 7 were interred for the duration of the war.

Parts for Lucky 13 are faithfully recreated down to the smallest detail, correct for the model of the airplane. Ray is a tireless researcher and even details of the construction of interior bulkheads are reproduced or restored to original. Some of the salvaged parts he uses are from B-17s that were featured in the movie and TV series “12 O’Clock High”. He points to one reinforcing part and says “Gregory Peck touched this”! Fun stuff.

I can go on and on about Ray and his work, but go to his website for some remarkable information about the airplane, its crew, and the team working to put it back in the sky: www.hangarthirteen.org