04/30/2009. Photographed from Jimmy Leeward's P-51D Mustang, "Cloud Dancer" showing pilot/owner Jim Wright at the controls of the Racer replica, which was built in 2002.
Remarks by Dennis Parker, member of the H-1 design team:
"The Hughes Racer replica is virtually exact to the original
. The engine is a Pratt & Whitney R-1535 like the original, which we believe is the only flying example of an R-1535 in the world. All of the instruments are authetic and are exactly the same ones that are installed in the original. All instruments have been refurbished and are in good working order.
The only alterations made, were done so for safety sake. For example, when the H-1 is landing and taxiing the pilot has zero forward visibility. Take a look at how far back and low the cockpit is on the fuselage. So for safety sake we installed a video camera about the size of a lipstick onto the retractable air scoop under the cowl. This feeds a small removable monitor in the cockpit.
Hughes' solution to this problem was to make the seat able to crank the pilot up so his head stuck well up out of the canopy. Jim Wright felt that this was unacceptable for safety reasons, because in the event of the aircraft flipping over on its top the pilot would almost certainly be killed.
The only other alteration cannot be seen. We acquired the original auto-pilot used but by todays standards it is a cumbersome collection of hydraulic valves and other mechanisms. So the internal portion of the auto-pilot was replaced with a modern electronic autopilot.
After an uneventful appearance at the 2003 AirVenture
at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Jim Wright fatally crashed just north of the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and the aircraft was completely destroyed. The NTSB accident reports states as the probable cause: The in-flight loss of a propeller counterweight, followed by the pilot's loss of aircraft control during a forced landing attempt and subsequent inadvertent stall/spin to the ground."