The plane holds 25 altitude and time to climb world records.
Reaching an altitude of 20,000 feet in six minutes and 40 seconds after take off may not be for everyone, but for Bruce Bohannon, the pilot and owner of the Exxon Flyin' Tiger, it is just one in many record-breaking flights his aircraft has accomplished. The Exxon Flyin' Tiger of Angleton, Texas, currently holds 25 altitude and time to climb world records. The Lincoln Electric Company has recently become an official sponsor of this specially modified kit plane.
According to the National Aeronautics Association's (NAA) World & U.S. Aviation & Space Records publication, the Exxon Flyin' Tiger currently is the world's fastest climbing piston aircraft in the unlimited class to 20,000, 30,000 and 40,000 feet. In the C1-B weight class, which includes aircraft from 1,100 to 2,200 pounds, the plane holds every altitude and time to climb record. Time to climb is defined as how quickly the plane reaches a specified altitude from the ground.
Bohannon performs these record-breaking flights in conjunction with Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) events such as the annual AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., and the Sun ‘N Fun fly-in in Lakeland, Florida.
During these attempts, an NAA official is present to certify the results. A video camera in the plane's cockpit is positioned at the instrument panel to verify altitude. An official clock on the panel records the time a specific altitude is reached.
According to Bohannon, for working on an aircraft this special, he only wants the best equipment and that's why he turned to Lincoln Electric. "For a high performance plane, you don't want to be second guessing the weld quality, especially at high altitudes where temperatures can be 70 degrees below zero and the engine is being pushed to the limit," said Bohannon.
Previously, Bohannon and his crew chief Gary Hunter were using an oxyacetylene process to weld the mostly aluminum body of the Exxon Flyin' Tiger, but recently have made the switch to a TIG process and Lincoln's Invertec® V205-T AC/DC.
"TIG offers much higher quality, less corrosion and a strong weld," noted Bohannon. "When you are pushing a plane to its limits, quality can't be compromised."
For years now, Bohannon has used Lincoln equipment around his farm and air field for repairs and building farm implements. He recently began using the Power MIG 255. "It's fantastically easy to use and reliable. This is the first MIG machine I've ever owned and it is so much easier compared to Stick."
Lincoln's Ranger® 250 engine-driven welder / generator also proves handy on the farm, since it generates its own power for welding and can be used anywhere. The Bohannons have also used the Ranger's ability to generate AC auxiliary power to run lights, tools and other necessities during power outages.
But the equipment is not the only thing that has impressed Bohannon about Lincoln. "The company's service has been absolutely impeccable," said Bohannon. "Delivery has always been on time and I appreciated all the help provided by Lincoln's Scott Skrjanc in specifying machines that would work best for us."
What's next for the Exxon Flyin' Tiger? Bohannon has two goals in mind. The first is to be the highest flying piston airplane in American history. That record is currently held by a World War II B-29 Bomber at 47,910 feet. The second goal is to hold the unlimited class' time to climb record in the 10,000 feet category.
Originally Written 3/2/04