Tuesday, December 16, 2008



STANDARD DATA: Seats 1. Gross wt. 2,280. Empty wt. 1,400. Fuel capacity 103. Engine 535-hp, supercharged Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr.
PERFORMANCE: Top mph 270. Cruise mph 230.

During the Great Depression of the early 1930s, almost all American businesses felt the strain, including aviation. The Grandville Brothers decided to take a shot at substantial prize money offered at air racing events. With an engine borrowed from Pratt & Whitney and propeller borrowed from Curtiss, the Gee Bee Model Z Sportser entered the competition. In one race, the Gee Bee averaged 267.342 miles per hour, the fastest speed ever recorded for a land plane. Later in the year with a upgraded 800-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340, the model Z was clock in at 281.75 mph. None of the original Gee Bees survive, but replicas still fly at a variety of air shows.


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