Pylon Ghost
Bob Odegaard has Restored one of Cook Cleland's Racing Corsairs
By Scott Germain / Warbird Aero Press

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Air racing fans dream about going back in time to witness the drama of the post war Thompson Trophy races. Mustangs, P-63's, P-39's, P-38's and the brutish F2G Super Corsairs battled around the Cleveland pylons. More often than not, they were a destruction derby. Sure, the winners were fast, but a lot of planes crashed or landed with problems. With the crash of Jacky Cochrane’s P-51C "Beguine" in 1949, post war air racing came to an end.

Today, memories and photos are all current afficionados have to recall those races. Until now. Thanks to Bob Odegaard, warbird and air race fans can see and touch an actual piece of history. He has accurately restored one of Cook Cleland’s F2G-1 Corsairs to its racing configuration. Odegaard found the battered remains of the racer in southwest Kansas and bought it with the intention of rebuilding it.

Although Bob owns Odegaard Aviation, an aircraft restoration company, he did a majority of the work himself, although his workers also gave time and energy to the program. When the restoration began, the parts that were there were in pretty good shape. "Except for a few cowl flaps, there was nothing firewall forward. But we did find the engine mount off of Cook Cleland’s white #94. Everything else we had to build," he says.

The R-4360 that powers the bright orange and white Corsair was an Air Force engine overhauled back in 1964. Odegaard says, "The nose case and blower sections are from the original engine. We pulled it all apart and reconditioned the engine ourselves, installing the thrust bearing and getting it all together."

As for the striking paint scheme, Odegaard’s detailed photo collection allowed the current paint scheme to match perfectly. "We absolutely wanted to keep the restoration accurate," he says.

Don’t count on traveling to see the aircraft sitting and gathering dust in some museum, either. Odegaard has put the aircraft through initial flight test, and plans to display the aircraft at airshows. "The first flight was flawless," he says, "other than the cowl flaps wouldn’t close. The second test flight was just fine, and on the third, the cowl flaps wouldn’t open. Then on the fourth, they wouldn’t close again," he says with a grin. "In all, that’s not too bad."

According to Odegaard, the Corsair flies exceptionally well. "With that second rudder, it takes off so nice. If you can fly an Aeronca Champ, you can fly this. It’s got big, long, soft gear, so when you land you feel for the runway and you don’t even know you’re on. You realize you’ve been on the ground a while," he laughs.

Since the engine is not the one he plans to stay with, and it’s been in a can 35 years, he doesn’t push it hard at all. Cruise at 12,500 feet at 20 inches and 1700 RPM netted 200 on the airspeed at 73 gph. "It lumbers along nicely." he says. For takeoff, the full 62 inches of manifold pressure and 2,700 rpm yields the full 3,500 horsepower with water injection. Max power dry is 54 inches, but Odegaard uses 42 inches in an effort to keep the engine healthy.

Warbird Aero Press would like to thank Bob Odegaard for his help in the preparation of this article. Article and Photos by Scott Germain. Copyright 1999.

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