Bruce Bohannon figures he missed setting an altitude record by about three feet on Saturday ... that's how much the tall Texan plans to add to the wingspan of his already highly modified RV-4 to take another crack at the absolute altitude record for piston aircraft, likely in October. Bohannon coaxed the Flyin' Tiger to 45,500 feet over EAA AirVenture, 4,500 feet of his goal of 50,000 feet and half a mile shy of the current record, held by an Air Force B-29. It was also more than 2,000 feet lower than Flyin' Tiger's own best performance and that had Bohannon perplexed. "I was more shocked than anyone," he said. "We had more power and a lighter airplane." In addition to adding some wing area, Bohannon plans to further shave the weight of the airplane but not until every bolt and fitting on the engine is checked to see if there was some kind of leak or adjustment that threw the big Lycoming out of whack.
Bohannon's technical crew spent most of Thursday and Friday replacing a broken turbocharger that had, in turn, damaged some exhaust parts. Famed test pilot Scott Crossfield stopped by Sunday to offer his advice (get the weight down) and to steer Bohannon away from spending too much time exploring some meteorological theories about the failed attempt. Bohannon had been told that the troposphere is thinner in the north than in the south and that might have starved his engine sooner. Just in case, the next attempt will be from Texas and if he makes it Bohannon says he'll take a year off from "the record-setting business." Instead, he wants to see if he can make the Flyin' Tiger go ballistic and be able to climb straight up. "There are a lot of reasons to think it's possible," he said.