View Full Version : 1929 Travel Air "Mystery Ship"

Greg Covey
09-06-2005, 09:24 PM
Hi all,

This Travel Air Model R "Mystery Ship" was originally built by Paul Weigand in 1988 from a Fred Reese "Golden Age Models" kit. It was powered by an O.S. 1.08 FSR. It won a Dolly Wisher hand-made Teddy Bear as the Pilots Choice award at the 1989 K-W Flying Dutchman Scale Rally in Kitchner, Ontario.

The model was sold in 1991 and used for display in an office. In June of 2005, it was repurchased by the original builder and owner, Paul Weigand, who converted it to clean and quiet electric power. After 14 years, the Travel Air "Mystery Ship" flies 2 pounds lighter.

1/5 Scale
70" wingspan
800 sq. in. wingarea
49" length
Flying weight is 10.5lbs

Power System:
AXI 4130/16
Jeti 77-amp Opto
6-cell Kokam 3.2AH pack
APC 16x10 e-prop
1080 watts at 53amps
6700 RPM

Greg Covey
09-06-2005, 09:50 PM
Flying photos coming soon...

Mike Parsons
09-07-2005, 07:06 PM
That is just stunning!

09-07-2005, 07:24 PM
That is simply amazing Greg....

Greg Covey
09-07-2005, 11:03 PM
I'll post more on this ship soon like flying photos and a video. It is flying up in Kitchner, Ontario this weekend trying to recapture its trophy from 14 years ago.

It will also be in my tent at the NEAT Fair on September 16th-18th.

An interesting story is that it was originally sold because the builder couldn't stand having it unclean after flying it and it was a real job to get all the glow fuel off, taking several hours. The advancement in electric flight over 14 years provided the opportunity to fly it again, this time only lighter and cleaner.

09-08-2005, 11:59 PM
Very nice model Greg. The lines and canopy on the "mystery ship" are very nice. That is truly a work of art. Take care and have a great day!

09-09-2005, 02:49 PM
Wow, but that's lovely. The Mystery ship has been an all-time favourite of mine. Apparently the original kit moulds and jigs still exist but whoever bought them hasn't gone into production.

I wonder if there'll be 2 of these models at the Kitchener fly-in, as Dave Grife has one too, which he electrified about 10 years ago and has recently updated with brushless gear. I hope so, and also hope someone can get pics of the two together.

Thanks for sharing Greg


09-14-2005, 12:44 PM
Hello Greg had the chance to see Paul fly it on the weekend at the KW fly and its most impressive to say the least.John

09-14-2005, 02:51 PM
Greg, That is a favorite of mine. Does anyone produce this kit? Awesome is all I can say.

09-14-2005, 04:28 PM
That is beautiful :D and in my favourite colours,was there a full size aircraft? it reminds me of the old time racers like gee bee ect.

09-22-2005, 03:27 AM
Very nice. Looking forward to the inflight pics.

Greg Covey
09-22-2005, 03:29 PM
The Mystery Ship flew at the NEAT Fair noontime demos on Friday and Saturday. Although these photos don't show it, the pilot was replaced by a hand-painted pilot from the Kitchner event. I believe the place is called "First Flight".

I still haven't developed my 35mm film roll yet.

09-22-2005, 03:48 PM
The plane is very nice&fast, maybe even give Dave grife a run for his money in a scale event .I would have like to see it flown more.Once is not enough.

09-22-2005, 04:59 PM
Does anyone make this plane? Don't want the foam one but the balsa.

R/C Gypsy
09-22-2005, 09:07 PM
I would like to thank you all for the comments on the Travel air....
Here's a little history on the kit.
The kit was by Fred Reese (AMA Hall Of Fame 2001) he designed as many as 100 R/C models and produced three large (for their time) R/C scale models under the name "Golden Age Models" from 1986 to 1988, the Travel Air being the first. I purchased the kit in 1987 and when it arrived I was in the middle of a large remodeling project in my house. I had a difficult time putting the kit aside to finish the house project, but it did get me moving faster so I could get to plane. In 1988 I built and finished it in K&B Superpoxy over 6/10th ounce glass cloth which was applied with Nitrate dope and filled with clear Superpoxy and primer, both of which were brushed on. The the final coat of primer and finished colors were sprayed. I always end up with some dust in the paint so the whole model was sanded with 1500 grit paper and then hand polished. K&B paint was great but you had to spray it with a chemical mask or airpack to stay healthy. probably why they no longer sell it.
I originally had a New O.S. 1.20 four stroke w/pump engine in it and in the first 20 flights it caused 3 or 4 deadstick landings ( they had some problem with the first pumps). I got tired of that when the last deadstick caused some damage.
I then installed an O.S. 1.08 two stroke and had many sucessful flights over the next 3 years, except for the ocational nose over on landing.
I then sold the ship to a friend after he kept bugging me for it for over a year. he never flew, or even put an engine in it, but hung it in his office and home on display. This past June bought it back and the rest is above.

Thanks again,

R/C Gypsy
09-22-2005, 09:23 PM
In 1924, Walter Beech, Bill Snook and Lloyd Stearman were joined by Clyde Cessna and formed a new company, Travel Air Manufacturing Co. They designed a fine series of biplanes and the Model 6000 monoplane. In 1927, Cessna left Travel Air to form his own company.

Walter Beech felt the best way to promote Travel Air was through racing. During the 1920's, the military dominated the unlimited racing class with stripped down fighters having the latest and most powerful engines. Travel Air engineers. Herb Rawdon and Walter Burnham felt they could beat the Army and Navy through careful design of a new racer. The National Air Races of 1929 were less than a year away when Rawdon and Burnham began work on the design.

The design followed the latest Schneider Cup racers, low wing with wire bra­cing and a fixed landing gear. Finding a suitable engine was a problem but Wright finally offered an experimental engine, the J-5, capable of 420 horsepower. They accepted the engine, feeling the large frontal area could be compensated by a NACA type cowl. Chevrolet also offered an experimental, 300 HP inline, six cylinder, inverted engine and it too was accepted, since the engineers decided to build two racers plus a third racing biplane. It was now only ten weeks before the races when construction began on the three airplanes!

Secrecy was enforced at the Travel Air plant for the new project. The windows of the separate hanger were frosted and doors were kept closed. The press, mostly unsuccessful getting information, called the project the "Mystery Ship".

The airplanes were ready to fly by August 18. The little biplane was brought out first. Unfortunately, it caught fire when the engine backfired and was badly damaged. The Mystery Ship R614K was flown by Clarance Clark, at first without the cowl, and performance was outstanding. Even without the cowl, the Model R hit 185 mph and over 225 with the new NACA cowl in place. The second Model R with the Chevrolet engine was disappointing. Top speed was only 150 mph and it had engine problems that never were solved. After the races the Chevrolet was replaced with a Wright J6-7 engine and was sold to Pancho Barnes. This airplane still exists.

On the last day of the National Air Races at Cleveland in 1929, seven racers lined up for the fifty mile, free-for-all race for the Thompson Trophy, the biggest racing event of the year. On that day, Doug Davis and the little red and black Mystery Ship beat the Army and Navy's best, and forever changed military aviation. Davis had averaged 194.96 mph. His fastest lap was 208.6 mph and he was clocked at 235 mph in the straight aways. And although he had to go back and re circle a missed pylon he made it back to the front and left the military ships far behind.

This was faster than any other civilian airplane had ever flown. The news people jumped all over the military and pepered them with questions of how the best military ships had lost the race to a civilian plane. The shock waves caused by this defeat and embarrassment to the military would result in the total eclipse of the biplane in the Army, and two years later in the Navy

09-24-2005, 02:44 AM
Nice to see that the Mystery Ship is back in the air with electric power. I enjoyed watching you fly it at Phelps and at Sayre a few years back. Also want to thank you for the tip on using Boondoggle for flying wires. Works great. Built two Taylorcrafts from your plans and they flew great. I hope to see you fly the mystery ship again some time.
Best Regards rcgeezer

Greg Covey
09-24-2005, 02:19 PM
Paul W. flying the Mystery Ship.

09-29-2005, 04:44 PM
There was a Travel air.... in Hobby Lobby but not any more. I've found it in Lenger http://www.lenger.de/cgi-bin/neu_web_store.pl?page=mystery-ship.htm&&cart_id=9302089_5005

Does anybody knows anything about it?

10-24-2005, 07:59 PM
I just landed a kit from Ebay. It's the Fred Reese "Golden Age Models" kit. I need to add the sheeting for the wing. I can't believe I was able to get my hands on one. It will be a fun project for winter. I will go electric.

R/C Gypsy
10-25-2005, 05:49 AM
Great find......
You'll really enjoy building it ....they were some of the best kits I've ever seen.......!

10-25-2005, 12:12 PM
Glad to hear. I have wanted this plane for a long time. I think in this era they have the best body lines.

11-13-2005, 12:19 AM
that is truly amazing!!!

11-13-2005, 12:34 AM
Simply beattiful

11-13-2005, 02:41 AM
As a relative newbie to this game I am in absolute awe of some of you guys, I look at my taped up, glued up, foam and built up models and think wow! I would be so terrified to attempt to fly something that beautiful:eek: