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Air Show Narration & Sound Services

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Carolina Airshows, a Personal History


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This is a work in progress

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In 1938, at Charlotte NC, Johnny Crowell set a record for quickest outside loop in his Great Lakes 2TIA.  His time, 55 seconds for four consecutive outside loops.  Asked the purpose for this record attempt Johnny stated, "was to prove that a pilot is not necessarily through at age 45."

Crowell was defiantly not "through."  The act most remembered by those who saw Johnny fly was his "hands-off flight."

The local Sheriff was recruited to tie Johnny's hands so that he could not reach the controls of his aircraft.  Johnny then taxied to the runway and performed: a take-off, a loop, a snaproll, a spin with recovery to a point, landed and taxied back to crowd center, his hands visible above the cockpit rim the entire time.

"This was a safety demonstration," stated Crowell; and he had performed this routine many times for Army Air Force Aviation Cadets to prove the airplane could be flown in an emergency with the feet only.

Walt Pierce is right: Johnny Crowell was a household name in Charlotte NC. 


Every airshow fan knows the story of Len Povey and the "Cuban Eight.  Most don't know Len was a resident of Highlands NC and worked as a consultant for Stevens Aviation in Greenville SC.


Here, Len poses in a circa 1937 photographic with a 1,000HP Curtis Hawk in Cuba when he headed and reorganized the Cuban Air Force for General Bastita.  This is the aircraft in which he developed the "Cuban Eight."   Len was a member of the Charlotte NC Hanger of the Quiet Birdmen, having joined the national organization in 1929.  He was also a two-time member of the "Caterpillar Club and was inducted into the OX-5 Aviation Pioneers Hall of Fame in 1973.

(Click on thumbnail for Full Size picture)

This photo was signed to Joe Swearingen in 1978.  I sat over a cup of coffee with Mr. Povey at GSP many times while working on the 1124 Westwind program.  (Personal advise: I never had the gumption to ask for a photo, don't make my mistake)


Link to an outstand site on Cuba Aviation http://www.geocities.com/urrib2000/index-e.html





Carolina Airshow Trivia:

This circa 1951 picture is Ben Huntley's Pitts Samson (the Original).  Ben says, "Picture probably taken in Georgia or Florida on the ALLSTAR AIR CIRCUS TOUR.  Pick a town - we have probably worked there."  A few years later, another pilot (Frank Rogers) landed the big Pitts on an Ercoupe at Fayetteville NC and Samson was destroyed.   (Photo courtesy of Ben F. Huntley)




Circa 1985.  Steve Wolf is shown with the replica of Samson he built in the early '80.  This airplane continues on the airshow circuit today flown by Bobby Younkin of  Springdale AR.




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