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Meteor RT-14 Logs First Flight at Chino

With Dave Morss at the controls, the Wathen Foundation’s replica of the Turner RT-14 Meteor made its first flight at Chino, California, on Thursday, December 12, 2002. Tom Wathen said the airplane flew for 15 minutes, and that Golden-Era racer indicated 170 mph with its Pratt & Whitney R-1830, producing just 17 inches of manifold pressure at about 30 percent power. Morss attempted the Meteor’s first flight about a month ago, Wathen said, but the “engine sneezed just after the wheels left the runway, so Dave put it right back on Chino’s Runway 26 Left, which is nice and long and wide.” Morss used the same runway for the first flight, and while the engine ran smoothly, it ran hot. “We have to let more air out of the cowling,” Wathen said.

Bill Turner built the replica in his Repeat Aircraft shop on the Flabob Airport, which the Wathen Foundation saved from developers a little more than two years ago, but work to address the cooling needs and other bugs, such as the inability to get more than 10 degrees of flaps, will take place at Chino’s Planes of Fame. With a 25-foot wing and an empty weight better than 3,000 pounds, then engineers said with full flaps the 1000-hp racer should land at 115 mph, Wathen said, which makes the airplane “too hot for Flabob” and its short runway.

Morss called the RT-14 a “real rocket ship,” Wathen said. He added that the replica marked Morss’s 325th first flight, and his 30th first flight of a prototype aircraft. Owned and flown by legendary race pilot Roscoe Turner, the original RT-14 is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and competed in the National Air Races from 1937 to 1939, placing first in 1938 and ’39.

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