Model X Sportster
NR49V (Model X)
The Model X was the first of the Sportsters. Painted Black &
White separated by an Orange Pin Stripe. An "8 Ball" adorned
the side, consisting of an orange background with a large
black number 8.
Lowell Bayles flew the model X to Second place in the All
American Air Derby. Sponsored by American Cirrus, the
contest required the use of a Cirrus engine. The winner was
the aircraft/pilot with the lowest accumulated time for the
12 legs. The course stretched roughly from Detroit to New
York to Texas to Los Angeles and back to Detroit. The route
resulted in 5,635 sm of flying, with 12 days of flying and a
1 day layover in Los Angeles. 18 aircraft started out on
July 21, 1930. 10 aircraft completed the race, arriving back
in Detroit on August 1, 1930. The Model X was forced down
three times between Utah and Nebraska by engine trouble.
Lowell Bayles was able to complete the race by temporarily
securing a loose rocker arm bracket using bailing wire. 1st
place: Lee Gehlback in Command-aire "Little Rocket" 43 hr,
35 min, 30 sec elapsed (127.1 mph) $15,000 prize plus $5000
in segment wins. 2nd place: Lowell Bayles in the Gee Bee
Model X: 47 hours, 36 min, 8 secs, (116.4 mph avg speed)
$7000 prize. 3rd Place- Charles Meyers in a Great Lakes - 51
hours 34 min 31 secs (107.3 mph average speed) $3000 prize.
Lowel Bayles purchased the model X after the race with his
share of the purse.
In early 1931 Lowell Bayles flew his model X as the main
attraction for the "Brinton's Flying Circus" which consisted
of 4 planes, 6 pilots, 1 truck driver and a truck with a
speaker system. The circus toured from North Carolina
This aircraft was later converted to the model F
configuration by installing a 135 hp Fairchild 6-390. NR49V
was lost while stunting at the dedication of Cromwell Field
(Burlington, Vermont) in September of 1931. Roscoe Brinton,
the pilot successfully bailed out.
NR854Y, Model B, c/n X-2
Harold Moon of Philadelphia purchased this ship for $4980.
The model B featured a new landing gear with shocks and
fairings. The cowling was also different than that of the X.
It was painted two tones of brown that were separated by a
1/2 inch red stripe, a paint scheme featured on the 1930
Packard. The aircraft was monogrammed with "Myodine" which
was the name of his company. On 11-15-1932 Mr. Moon sold the
aircraft to Edith Bernson. Edith had the engine upgraded to
a 125 HP Cirrus Ensign, at which time the fuel capacity was
reduced to 30.5 gallons for weight considerations. The last
report of the aircraft was a 6-3-1933 inspection report that
cites 152 hours of flight time. It is rumoured that airplane
was sold to an overseas customer in Spain.
NR855Y/NC855Y (Model C)
George Rand of New York purchased this airplane. It was
painted coca-cola red and white. A running pirate (the
Menasco logo) was featured on the airplanes side. After
delivery, the aircraft was returned to the factory and the
larger fin and rudder developed for the Model D was
installed. It is clear that the airplane was not upgraded to
the Model D configuration (the 95 hp Menasco B-4 was
retained and wheel pants were omitted), however the airplane
was placed in the standard category on a 'on-time basis'
with ATC404 as the supporting data. The aircrafts
identification number was changed to NC855Y.
On 10-1-1931, Mr Rand sold the airplane to Harry Hall of New
York, NY for $800 and a J-5 Waco Taperwing. The airplane was
destroyed in a fatal accident at Jersey City, New Jersey on
NC11043, Model D, c/n D-1
Zantford (Granny) Granville flew NC11043 to air shows and
races in the spring of 1931. Skywriting equipment controlled
by a trigger on the joystick was installed and "Gee Bee" was
scrawled across the sky over Manhattan. The paint scheme was
Blue & Cream separated by a red pin stripe. A panther was
painted on the aft fuselage and a pirate on the cowl. The
model D featured a larger vertical fin and rudder than it's
predecessors and also had a fully faired landing gear.
ATC404 was cancelled after the Granvilles went out of
Bob Hall flew "the cat" to 1st place in event #4 of the 1931
National Air Races. This was a 25sm race for certified
aircraft with a 400 cubic inch or smaller engine.
Mrs Mae Haizlip placed 2nd in two events of the 1931
National Air Races.
Bill Rausch raced this airplane in the 1932 Nationals.
NC11043 was lost in 1935.
NC856Y, Model E, c/n #4
Al Nott flew this model E to Miami, Florida in January 1932
to participate in the All American Air Races. He earned 6th
place in the green trophy race and 1st place in the Cuban
Trophy race (132.58 mph). In February 1932, when returning
to Springfield, Mass the airplane nosed over resulting in
minor damage and no significant injuries. Mud packed into
the wheel wells had frozen in flight, locking the wheels in
NC856Y with Zantford Granville piloting was lost in 1934 on
landing at Spatanburg SC, while manoeuvring to miss men and
equipment that were working on the runway.
NC11044, Model E, c/n #6
The model E was completed for the Harris/Tibert company of
Los Angeles. The Harris/Tibert company intended to become a
Gee Bee distributor. Enroute to the west coast they attended
a February 14, 1931 airshow at Chandler Field Atlanta. While
performing in the show the model E spun into the ground.
NC46V, Model E, c/n #7
This Green and White model E, originally built for Bill
Sloan was returned to the factory for use in the Ford Air
Tour. She wore race #14 and the Granville twin geese logo.
It was flown in the 1931 Air Tour by Lowell Bayles. A mid
race engine change cost the team a 5% penalty. Lowell Bayles
and the Model E finished 4th in points and was declared the
winner because the two Fords that finished ahead were
ineligible and Schneider who also finished ahead had failed
to complete two legs. Lowell Bayles also flew this aircraft
to the eastern states expo in 1931.
Zantford flew NC46V to Santa Monica, CA to participate in
the 1931 on-to-Cleveland Derby, a 2,400 sm race. Kidney
stones forced Zantford to drop out of the race.
Maude Tait placed 3rd in two events of the 1931 National Air
Races while flying a Model E.
NC46V was lost shortly after takeoff on August 20, 1932. The
pilot was Russell Boardman who had no prior experience in
the E, although he had flown the more powerful model Y.
Witnesses said the pilot tried to pull the airplane up into
a loop from takeoff. He didn't make it and crashed in the
brush on the airport.
NC72V, Model E, c/n #8
Completed in August of 1931, this ship was delivered to
Sloan to replace NC46V which was borrowed for the air tour.
NC72V was painted yellow and green. Sloan flew her 990 hours
in 4 years before the lingering depression forced a sale.
Don Walters then flew this airplane in Bell Sweet's Air
Shows. He hit a truck on the runway while landing. The
Granvilles then rebuilt the airplane. It later crashed again
when the engine quit and the plane hit a fence during
rollout. Walters who was piloting the airplane survived. The
wing of this airplane is on display in the EAA museum. That
wing wears the coca-cola red and white Gee Bee colours.