Friday, February 27
1945 ... the War is over now and the model airplane industry is really booming. We read in a M/A/P magazine that a jet engine is now available. Wow, think of all the possibilities there. Are we up to doing something that big and can Sluder afford it? Of course we can and he will furnish the budget. We get the engine and the special model plane it requires in about two weeks. Five minutes later we have the engine mounted on the test block and are digesting the instructions. The fist requirement is an air hose with 100 lbs. of pressure. Just like you inflate your tires. Being in a tire recapping shop that is a given, already. We fill the small gas tank with fuel and he sticks the air hose to the engine valve. The turbine blades are turning about 10,000 RPMs and it starts to scream. I'm getting scared, already, because I know when I flip that ignition on its probably going to explode and we will be in the headlines of the Hazard Herald tomorrow. But I suck it up and do it anyway. I flip the switch and there is a tremendous blast and a sheet of flame comes out the jet about five feet long. We are both frozen in amazement hoping it will run out of fuel soon because I ain't getting any closer until it stops. Sluder is really happy with the test. The plane, itself, is almost solid balsa wood and fairly simple. If its wings were any shorter it would be a rocket. The engine is mounted on the top towards the rear just like the German V-1 Buzz Bomb. The fuselage has a fiberglass strip glued along the top so the heat won't burn the plane. And its off to the ball park. Its late in the evening and some of the lights are on. We start it up, Sluder grabs the control and I pull the pin. It, actually, starts rolling slower than I thought. But as it gets airborne it starts to accelerate. There is no speed control. After the second revolution it really starts to move. I look over at Cromwell and he is spinning around like a top. The plane is now up around the the lights. After about six laps the engine pops and quits and it comes into a smooth landing. What a relief. We thought it ran out of fuel but after close inspection we found out it had sucked a big Junebug into the intake and that shut it down. Sluder says he was glad it quit, he was about to let it go. As far as I know that was the last time he flew the jet.