Gee Bee And Delmar Plan New Lives Apart

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Two years after mothballing his famed Gee Bee R2 racer replica, air show icon Delmar Benjamin spent five days last week at the wheel of a 27-foot U-Haul truck moving his pride and joy to its new home at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Fla., Jamie Beckett of The Flying Life magazine this week told AVweb. After logging 1500 hours with the Gee Bee, Benjamin is preparing his next project, which he refers to only as "a more unique airplane than this one." Kermit Weeks, the visionary owner of Fantasy of Flight, intends to have the aircraft flutter-tested prior to doing any flying himself in the muscular mini. However, once flutter testing is completed there is talk of Weeks and Benjamin flying the R2 along with the yellow-and-black Z-model Gee Bee that Weeks already owns and displays at Fantasy of Flight. Weeks says the addition of the familiar red-and-white Golden Age speedster to his stable of more than 160 aircraft "really fills a niche in the collection." Benjamin and the aircraft rolled onto the ramp early on Saturday morning, Jan. 17. By evening the airplane was in Fantasy of Flight's maintenance hangar with the wings and horizontal tail surfaces already bolted back on the airframe. Only the bright-red engine cowling, wheel pants and wing fairings remained on the hangar floor. By midday on Sunday the R2 was back in familiar form, looking like the powerhouse she truly is. One of the fastest racers of its day, the R2 won the Bendix race of 1932 with Jimmy Doolittle at the stick, setting a pace of better than 250 mph.