- Oct 30, 2003
- Plant City, Fl
- Total Flight Time
We met Carl after Dad and I moved to Chuck Beaty’s place in the winter of 1986. We had heard of him but never met him. By the time we met Carl he was already infamous for the things he did in his SuperMac powered Parson’s gyro.
When you watch the video I posted above just remember it was shot in the late 80’s. Video cameras were a whole lot different then. I apologize for the quality. I do want to say I didn’t shoot it nor do I know who did.
Once we moved to Chuck’s place somehow we found out about bunch of gyro parts for sale in Sebring for dirt cheap. We drove over there one Saturday with Chuck’s old Datsun pick up truck. This truck had been parked for years and needed some TLC to get it road worthy. We used to haul a bunch of stuff all over the state. We get there and find out that the gyro parts are actually a complete Bensen B8M kit with a brand new 72 Mac. Whomever purchased the kit did so without Bensen Blades and opted for after market Stan Z blades. They were like Rotordynes but better in my opinion. There was also an old B7 round tube machine that had the engine removed. It was the ugliest orange I had ever seen
We got everything home and it was determined that we would built the Bensen Kit. It was a great learning experience for me. It was also discussed that this might be the machine I learn to fly. I never got to fly it. I was basically made ground crew. I hand propped the engine. I also patted the blades up before flight and down after flight. This taught me a great deal about rotor management. We only had an airport that hated gyros near us so we decided to take it to Lake Wales airport. We were very familiar with the airport as the Sunstate Rotor Club we were very active members in held its 4th of July fly in there.
Sunday’s ended up being the day to get up super early and go to Lake Wales. It was about an hour there. We had been going for about three or four weeks. Chuck had done some mods on the old 72 Mac that had helped it quite a bit. Dad,David, and Chuck flew the crap out of that machine for right at about a year. We would get it started in the morning (anyone who has started a standard Mac will confirm) and do hot refuels on it as they all took turns flying it.
One Sunday we were there and Dad actually brought Blunder Beast and I was excited because I thought I might get to fly. The airport was basically dead. There were a few fixed wings based there but most people in the little town went to Church on Sunday. We saw an airplane enter the pattern. Dad said that’s a Balanca. He gave me a quick lesson on how to tell a Balanca from other low wing airplanes. The plane taxied up to us and out hops this older than Chuck man and he has a mangled up right hand. He introduces himself as Carl Hinshaw and says he has a gyro and would love to fly over from his private strip to join us. We all say heck yeah the more the merrier. He gets fuel climbs in his plane with three other people on board and takes off. He flys up to about 600-700 ft and turns back toward the taxiway we parked on. Dad says watch this. He probably gonna impress us with a high speed pass with a hard climb out. He did exactly that except on climb out he was doing barrel roll after barrel roll. We were mildly impressed.
We found out later that hand was from getting hand caught in the prop on his Mac machine.
We went to lunch in town at the only fast food joint they had Burger King. On the way back we saw a gyro flying toward the airport. When we got there Carl was already there. Just sitting on our trailer. We pulled up got out and chatted dad told him how impressed he was with the rolls he did and Carl explained he was an ex-P51 pilot and loved to do rolls. He then said his goodbyes got fueled up on Avgas. He took off headed out again and turned back in a somewhat familiar pattern that would become routine. He came by at at least 100mph and did three barrel rolls in the gyro and flew back to Chalet’ Suzzane. He did these right over our heads. Until that time none of us believed he was doing a true roll or loop. He flew over us and we could see the top of his helmet through the blades pointed down at us. We were all oh and ahhhing. That is everyone except the Airport manager. He came over and chewed our asses. We explained it wasn’t us that is was Carl Hinshaw from Chalet’ Suzanne. We all I encouraged him to call and complain to Carl himself to leave us out of it.
Carl was a character. We used to joke that he needed a ground crew to load him in the gyro because he had one giant set of brass testicles he was flying with. He used to have Bill Parsons work on his gyro for him and after Bill’s accident he latched on to dad to work on it. He wanted to put a set of Dragon Wings on his machine one time after he wrecked it doing a flat spin with smoke. He got distracted counting the smoke rings and hit the flagpole in the lake at the North end of the runway near the restaurant. He almost Drown. He couldn’t get the military four point harness undone with his only on good hand and the mangled up one. Luckily a person there dove in and freed him from the gyro. Dad would never sell him a set of Dragon Wings because he didn’t want his blades associated with a crash and death he felt was inevitable.
He brought it to dad to be rebuilt. That was the first time of quite a few he had do work for him on the gyro. He gave my parents a free night in the hotel and free meal in the restaurant. Dad said the room was old and small. I said well it’s supposed to be like France after the war. He raved about the steak. Connie and he enjoyed it. Dad asked how much the Filet Minon was. The waiter said your meal is on the boss. Dad argued with him for a few minutes until he was made aware that Carl would take offense to this. They sat back down and ate the best Filet Minion they ever had. Dad later found out that the steak he was eating was 95.00. Plus he makes the regular customers pay for each side.
The next time we saw Carl we asked if the airport manager had anything to say. He said he did and they disagreed. Carl sits on the city’s airport board it was made clear to the airport manager he best leave the gyro guys alone next time. He did as he was told. After Dad’s business got running good he would hear
from Carl less and less. I’m not sure year but this war hero / daredevil pilot died from natural causes. His son tried to keep the family business open. The Chalet’ Suzanne and all land was auctioned off after it failed. The only thing left is a four lane road named Carl Hinshaw Blvd. So before there was Barry, there was Jim Vanek, before him there was Carl Hinshaw.