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Pitts S-2B Aileron Controls

bf92

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These parts are from Pitts S-2B N260PS, which was Craig Hosking's original "Doubletake" that had landing gear on top. The bellcranks and idlers will be sold as a package only, price $500, includes all bearings. The control stick, including bearings, is priced at $200. Prices are firm. Buyer pays shipping. Parts are in excellent condition and have factory part numbers visible on them.

Danny
 

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Dennis Flamini

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Danny,
i am sure everyone here wants to learn more about Craigs S-2 and the details of the crash and how you wound up with parts.
Anyone that does not already know about landing up-side-down. Think about getting out and then back in to takeoff up-side-down.
 

bf92

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I met Craig in 1981 when he was 23 years old. His family owned Hosking Exploration Helicopters, which operated out of KBTF where I was based. I was flying a Pitts S-2A that the club was trying to sell, and Craig contacted me for a demo ride. He only wanted to fly upside-down. I got a ride in a Llama helicopter as a trade. Craig didn't buy the Pitts.

Two years later Craig came into my hangar and said he was buying a Pitts S-2B and wanted me to teach him aerobatics. He bought the Pitts from Pompano Air Center and ferried it home. The Maule tailwheel came apart on the trip home, so he had a mechanic fashion a steel spring tail-skid and that's how he flew it home. I began "teaching" Craig aerobatics. I would show him a maneuver once, and then he would fly it better than I did. He was the most natural pilot I ever flew with.

In the summer of 1984 Craig said he was going to modify the Pitts, and he wanted me to help him, but he wouldn't tell me what he was doing until September, and I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement first. Then he said he was going to put landing gear on the top and land it upside-down at airshows. "What do you think?" I said, "You're nuts! Tell me more!" In October we sat down together to discuss the mods, and I made the drawings of the structure, which Craig took to an engineer to determine tubing sizes. With that information, I ordered materials and parts and began modifying this one-year-old Pitts. We locked the project in a hangar and let no one in until it was done in early February 1985.

Craig did some basic test flying to determine any control abnormalities from the mods (added 180 lbs to the empty wt. and raised the vertical c.g.), then got a FAA waiver that allowed taking off upright and landing inverted at KBTF. Craig contacted Hartzell about hoisting the airplane by the prop, and they said go ahead. Craig hired a crane operator to hoist the airplane up vertical, then myself or Craig's dad, Bob, would stabilize the Pitts and pull the tail under so the crane could lower it upside-down. Craig taxied around a bit to get used to the new sight picture, then went out and made a takeoff. He landed upright, and we repeated the sequence about twenty-five times. Craig then got a waiver at Wendover, UT, to land upside down. I was at work that day, but Craig called and said he had done it successfully.

To get out inverted, and back in again, we had a go-kart axle and disc brake mounted on bearings below the seat, and to which the seatbelt attached via a cable. The brake has hand-operated and the handle mounted in a bracket on the right side of the cockpit. Craig would slide the canopy off and hand it to an assistant, then lower himself out using the brake handle. To get in he would lean over the seatbelt, and the assistant would use a winch motor plugged onto the end of the go-kart axle and powered by the airplane battery, and would raise him into the cockpit until he said the seatbelt was tight enough. Then he would lock the brake, put on the canopy, and away he would go.

The demise of "Doubletake" occurred during Craig's 13th airshow in 1986. He was performing three consecutive loops, and struck the ground at the very bottom of the third loop. The airplane made a right turn and rolled to a knife-edge position when it struck the ground. The right wings were sheared off to the fuselage. the airplane then tumbled knife-edge five or six times, shearing the left wings off about three feet outboard of the fuselage. The airplane came to rest upright and straddling a fence, and the fuselage broke about where the rear set of rudder pedals were mounted. Craig was wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet, and other than a stiff neck for a few days, was uninjured.

Craig bought the salvage from the insurance company, ordered another S-2B from the factory, but had the wings shipped to Gordon Price, and Gordo sent Craig a set of Ultimate wings. The engine was rebuilt and used, and a new Hartzell prop installed. We transferred everything usable from the original "Doubletake" to the new one, and Craig told me I could have whatever I wanted that was left over. He also told several other people the same thing. I ended up with the left horizontal stabilizer and elevator, and rudder, and these parts I just posted. The fabric from the rudder adorns the wall of my hangar. The new "Doubletake" is now on permanent display at Planes of Fame in Chino, CA.

Danny
 

Dennis Flamini

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There is just something about airplane people!
i have told this story about a Tailwind dinner in Baraboo, Wi about 15 years ago. i like to ask everyone what they do for a living and sitting next to me was a guy named Red. he said he had a company in California that made headers for flat head Ford engines. i am thinking there can't be much of a demand for that but then i remembered all my 20 year old hot rod mags with that ad for Red's Headers! Yes, here was Red Hamilton sitting right next to me!
PS; he raced an O-320 Tailwind at 236 mph, i guess he knows something about engines.
And Danny's similar post above but add this to the story about Craig;
Growing up with a fully equipped dark room in his house, Craig Hosking has always been interested in everything to do with the camera. Developing his own negatives and personally hand printing his photos gave Craig a deep understanding of all of the elements of capturing images. His early photographic interests included low light landscapes along with several published underwater images. His early aerial images won several awards. Craig Hosking's entrance into live action commercials and features came through his expertise as an accomplished pilot. Qualified to fly literally any aircraft, Craig has been the “go to” guy on most of Hollywood’s top features and commercials. He has worked on more than 150 Features and over 200 Commercials. Because he understands, light, composition and how to move the camera, particularly in the 3rd dimension, his skills as a camera pilot have become legendary. The natural transition has been into the world of Second Unit Directing. He has independently created action sequences as well as artistically beautiful images on The Aviator, The Dark Knight, Indiana Jones 4, Clear and Present Danger, Jurassic Park 3, Executive Decision, Miami Vice, Space Cowboys, Alaska, The General’s Daughter, Sum of All Fears and many others.
 
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Dennis Flamini

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More Craig stuff;

Pushing the Envelope...

Craig Hosking is a maverick. He was the youngest licensed helicopter pilot ever, as he received his rotary wing license on the very day of his sixteenth birthday, and parlayed his dreams of flight into a highly successful career flying aerial work for television series, and feature films alike.

So when the call came one day from Paramount Studios to take two freelance cameramen to shoot film of volcano eruptions for a mystery movie called "Sliver," which was scheduled to be released the following summer, he thought little of it.

Paramount also hired Mike Benson, a freelance cinematographer, and Christopher Duddy, a freelance camera technician, to film the volcano.

The Bell 206B-III helicopter, tail number N789N, was equipped with 2 cameras and was doing filming runs of a volcano vent crater and its associated smoke plume for the motion picture. There is no active lava flow in the Pu'u O'o vent of the Kilauea Volcano, but a pool of lava glows in a 120-foot deep pit on one side of the crater floor.

The Sound of Trouble...

According to Hosking, on the third pass over the crater, he noticed the main rotor output decreasing, and saw the rotor caution light illuminate. "As I was flying that fateful pass, just about two seconds before arriving over the center of the crater, we experienced a governor linkage failure,"

Quickly, he lowered the collective, but inadvertently entered the volcano smoke and steam cloud. "We've got a problem," Hosking announced to the cameramen, who were both did not hear the low rotor warning tone, and perceived no change in engine sound during the descent.

After turning, Hosking exited the cloud and autorotated the helicopter down to the crater's bottom. "During the autorotation, I could've gone over to the outside of the crater, but it was so steep that it would've been a fatal rollover." The main rotor struck the shear rock wall during the flare and separated from the helicopter.

In hindsight, Hosking recalls: "You don't have time for emotion," he said. "You have ten seconds. Here's how it goes: 'Okay, we have a problem. I have to get the RPMs up. Now we're descending. We can't land outside. We have to land inside. That's not a good place to go, but it's our only choice. I see a flat spot, but I have get by those rocks, and I have to get away from the hot lava. RPMS are good. Speed is good. Here comes the ground.' And you're down."

The helicopter's crash site was inside the volcano, nearly 150 feet below the rim.

Hell on Earth...

The three filmmakers spent hours choking on poisonous gas from the volcano before the two cameramen decided to try to climb out by themselves, after it became apparent that rescue wasn't imminent.

But after Duddy and Benson became trapped on a high ridge, Hosking managed to radio for help by jury-rigging the radio to a spare battery, and a local pilot made a heroic flight into the volcano's core, and quickly rescued Hosking.

It took nearly two days and an improvised rescue effort organized by the film company to retrieve Duddy and Benson from their plight.

One of the cameraman, Christopher Duddy, had reached the lip of the volcano at 2:30 P.M. on Sunday, 27 hours after the crash.

When It Rains...
But efforts to rescue the other cameraman, Michael Benson, from a Kilauea Volcano crater in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park had been delayed by heavy smoke, rain and fog. Benson said he imagined he saw Pele, the volcano goddess of legend, looking back at him from across the crater. "I told her that she was not going to take me," Mr. Benson said in an interview with the New York Times after rescue. "I actually got up and screamed that at her."
A break in the weather let a helicopter, piloted by Tom Hauptman, fly into the crater and drop a basket attached to a 150-foot rope, according to Donna Cuttone, a ranger at the park. Benson was pulled out of the vent at 10:45 Monday morning, and taken to a hospital in Hilo, she said.
Mike Benson was stuck about 60 feet below the rim of the 600-foot-high crater, said Richard Rasp, a spokesman for the park. According to Rasp, rescuers at the edge of the rim had been unable to see Benson because of the fumes and steam rising from the volcano.
Taking Care of Business...
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident was, "the pilot's intentional flight in and near a volcanic gas cloud which induced a partial loss of engine power due to a lack of combustible oxygen in the atmosphere."
Paramount Studios publicly praised Hosking for "a remarkable job in landing the craft so all three were able to walk away with cuts and bruises."
The story of this crash was featured in an episode of the Discovery Channel television series "I Shouldn't Be Alive".
Ironically, the volcano scenes ended up being cut from the final release of the production of Sliver.
 

Stu Olmsted

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Dennis, I recall the Kilauea crash as I was flying circle island tours on the Big Island and lived on the southwest side at that time. The Pu’u O’o vent was always a sight and of course everyone wanted to see and photograph it. Amazing story and you’ve filled in many details I wasn’t aware of...
 

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