and the PJ-260
Lindsey Parsons contacted Mike Townsley and gave him this information on the building of the first and second PJ-260.
Above is a picture of the very first PJ-260 ever built. It was built for Lindsey Parsons and Rod Jocelyn for aerobatic completion. It was completed for the 1962 airshow circuit and competition. It was hit by a plane at an airshow and had a short life.
Lindsey wrote: Here is a picture of my friend the late Reno Brenner, a well known aircraft fabricator and wood craftsman in our area for many years. Several other very excellent craftsmen worked on the plane. The most notable of these was the late Bart DeNight who did most of the welding. Bart was also a racing pilot who had built several successful racers (designed by Nick) over the years. My own efforts were mostly the grunt work, i.e. cutting and filing steel tubes, attaching stringers, and riveting, etc.. I also played a roll in covering, stitching, doping, wet sanding and painting the fabric. The quality of workmanship on the final product was exceptionally fine as , for the most part, the work was done by top notch professionals..
Mike: What happened this second PJ ?
Lindsey: The PJ-260 was designed primarily for my associate Rod Jocelyn and myself to
compete with in the 1962 World Aerobatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Unfortunately it was lost (the red PJ was struck by another airplane while parked on the ground at an airshow) just before we were to leave for Europe and we were
forced to borrow our friend and fellow air show pilot, Bob Nance's Warner Scarab
powered Great Lakes for Hungary. Upon returning to USA, we completed the blue PJ
and flew out the air show season with it. I felt that a 450 Stearman would be a
better show bird with all it's noise and the additional wing walking act
capability so I sold the blue PJ to a United Airlines Captain named Ken Mortag
around the end of 1963, as I recall. Ken was killed practicing for the 1964
National Acrobatic Championship in the bird when he got too low in his routine and
hit the ground.
Mike: you are the P of PJ correct?
Correct. I am the "P" and Rod Jocelyn is the
"J". Both of us knew each other and
we both knew Nick D'Appuzo back in those days and when I kept pestering those two to find
me a good Great Lakes to compete in they decided it would be just as easy to build
something up from scratch as the Lakes was becoming very rare. What transpired as
the PJ-260 was inspired, of course, by the wonderful Great Lakes but really is an
ENTIRELY different aircraft. It's bigger, more powerful, and more single purpose
in design. It's ONLY reason for existence in concept was for acrobatic
demonstration and competition.
Here is a
picture of Reno Brenner making the wing ribs in the jig.
Click on pictures to see them bigger
Here are some pics of the first PJ in progress.
Mike: I have really heard a lot of good things about the PJ. I heard it is easy
to fly and does aerobatics beautifully. I understand it just doesn't have the
rate of roll to keep up with the Pitts and Yaks. I have heard it is very strong.
all very true. It was a fine acrobatic airplane in every way and
on an equal basis with it's peers of that day. I was able to score an overall
fifth place in the '62 World Championships with that old, uncowled, and pretty
sick Great Lakes of Bob Nance's and I'm sure I could have won the thing with the
PJ-260 had we been able to use it. As it was, we beat the Russian Yaks with the
Lakes but simply couldn't beat the beautifully flown Zlinns used by most of the
eastern European teams. So much of the compulsory routines required heavy
maneuvering on the vertical climbing line. That old (1932) Lakes just felt like a
flying speed brake on these lines. I recall that there was a required vertical
eight from the bottom up in one of the sequences that I was forced to enter at
almost 200 mph indicated in order to even complete the maneuver. It was only by
the grace of the good Lord that we didn't pull that valiant little bird apart over
plane built after the first one was destroyed at the airshow, was
painted blue. It had alum ribs instead of wood.
Here is a picture of Lindsey with it and a Jaguar
The second PJ-260 built is all fired up and ready to go.
Here is some
more interesting history from Lindsey Parsons.
"Well.....let's see. I remember very vividly the performance of this bird. It's home field was Old Star Airport in Langhorne, PA. The single runway was 2600 feet long, sod, and on about a 2% uphill grade when taking off in a normal prevailing wing. I could start the roll at the far end of the strip, be airborne about half way up the hill, half roll the bird at the end of the runway and immediately push it up through a
half outside loop to complete the "initial climb out". This was spectacular performance back in the early sixties !
We first saw the now famous tumbling maneuver called the "lomchovak" during the '62 World Championships in Budapest. I believe Rod and I were the very first American pilots to perform this maneuver back here in the States. The PJ did an awesome lomchovak !!! No biplane of the same scale
could possibly do a better one. It's general acrobatic capabilities were outstanding. It really had no
weak points whatsoever in this regard. Actually, my only real complaint with the airplane was the difficulty in starting it. With that aeromatic prop and the geared engine, it was a real difficult bird to hand crank. We therefore installed a starter and always carried the appropriate jumper wires in order to activate it. Naturally, on cross countries, etc., it was a pain to have to find a local battery or drive up a car
and use it's battery at fuel stops. I remember cruising it on these occasions at about 23 inches and truing out at something like 160 at 4000' or so.
I asked Lindsey
to compare the PJ to a Great Lakes. This is what he wrote:
".. When I speak of the Great Lakes, I can only relate to the bird with a 185 Warner
Scarab engine as I have never flown one in original configuration.
This is a picture of a Great Lakes Lindsey had once.
"The PJ was a much
higher performance aircraft than the Lakes. It had a considerably lower coefficient of
drag over all and half again the power. It also had rather more aileron area overall
which gave it a greater roll rate at all speeds. It was somewhat heavier largely due
to it's engine weight and slightly larger dimensions and, consequently, it did have a
higher stall speed at any given G load and comparatively sharper "break" when it did
I guess, in VERY
general terms, the Lakes was a gentler machine in extreme
than the PJ. It was also somewhat easier to manage when working at low altitude
largely due to it's slow speed build up in diving attitudes. The PJ always had a
propensity to accelerate rapidly in any diving attitude. One had to exercise
particular caution when pulling out of steep diving maneuvers close to the ground.
This was particularly true when executing inverted (negative G) recoveries. The PJ
could easily accelerate so rapidly in the diving phase of these negative G maneuvers
that it would stretch out the radius of the maneuver so much that safety could easily
be compromised when working in close. One simply couldn't "pinch off" a negative G
maneuver in the PJ if one was running out of altitude. Speed control was really key in
this bird !!! Maneuvers that were almost routine in the Lakes, such as a square
outside loop had to be approached with considerable care in the PJ as allowing too
great a speed build up on the diving leg could cause the subsequent corner to stretch
WAY out.......right into the runway if one worked it too low.
Of course, one
knew of this characteristics in planning and executing one's
routine so the problem was hopefully academic. It's the same problem that would be
present in any low c/d biplane. What made the Lakes so controllable in a dive was the
high c/d caused by that round, flat engine. It really took an effort to coax that
Lakes up to 200 IAS in those wretched compulsory sequences back in Budapest.
general strait and level flying, they both are about on a
par as to ease of
handling. I suppose if I had to choose which bird I would use to initially teach
someone to fly, it would be the Lakes. It really is a true pussy cat to fly ! The PJ
is easy enough but it can bite one's hand once in a while if one doesn't pay it some
respect. In any case however, it certainly isn't anything like some of these
overpowered dwarf biplanes that must be flown all the way into the chocks !!!
Build it.....you'll love it !!!
Airshow great, Lindsey Parsons flying the PJ-260 inverted and inverted ribbon cut. Lindsey thinks these pictures were taken at the Reading PA airshow.
about the third PJ-260 built.
Lindsey: "Big Ed ( Mahler )
built and flew the second (actually third "rendition" ) of the PJ-260 which was
almost identical to the original also except it had a slightly larger engine (
ours was a GO-435 as I recall and Ed's was a GO-480 with a third prop blade ).
Mahler's bird used struts as vertical stabilizer supports while our bird used
wires.....this was to prove important in Ed's subsequent death in the airplane
several years later."
Mike: I have also heard it has a weak tail, but I am not sure that is true.
isn't true at all. On the contrary, the tail surfaces were
strong. Big Ed was just that....a BIG man. he must have weighed at least 260
pounds. In addition, his was a more powerful and heavier engine. Accordingly, Nick
felt that the use of struts on the tail surface supports would be more prudent
that wires as we had on our bird. The day Ed was killed, he had found one of those
supporting struts had a broken fitting and was , of course, rendered useless. As
he intended to repair it prior to a show that weekend, he elected to go aloft for
some publicity photos without benefit of it. In attempting to give the camera man
in the other plane some sensational shots Ed got a bit carried away and the tail ,
now unsupported, failed causing his crash. None of this should have happened had
reasonable precautions been observed.
Here is some
more dialog I had with Lindsey through emails.
Mike: How do you compare the PJ to a Pitts S1T?
Lindsey: The two
birds are totally different in scale. The Pitts is, of course,
short coupled and usually produced with extremely high powered engines.
Naturally it's more nimble and less susceptible to speed decay in vertical
maneuvers. Accordingly, in it's present highly evolved configuration, it's
certainly the more effective bird in a competition aerobatics given equal pilot
ability. It is a bird that does require considerably more skill to simply "kick
around" in the local traffic pattern, for example, than the PJ. The latter is a
very docile machine with excellent general aviation characteristics. Any
reasonably decent private , strait and level, pilot would find it user friendly.
That same man would quite probably be uncomfortable in a powerful Pitts.
Mike: How would you compare the PJ to a Monster Pitts with the Russian Radial?
most exciting acrobatic airplane I have ever seen was the
Pitts" that Ben Huntley and others flew around the air show circuit back in the
fifties. I assume you know the recent replica of this great airplane that is
around today. This big 450 Pratt powered, strait wing, stubby biplane was about
as good as it gets for air show flying. If the "monster Pitts" you refer to is
anything even remotely like that bird, it would be a winner. Comparing something
like that to the PJ is really unproductive. They're two very different
statements. The PJ is a silken glove....the big Pitts is the mailed fist.
Mike: Did you ever have any structural failures on your PJ?
Lindsey: Several engine failures were experienced but no structural failures whatsoever.
Mike: Do you still fly?
Lindsey: Occasionally in a friend's T-6.
Mike: Would you like to have a PJ-260 today?
certainly would take one if if it were proffered but I would
rather have one
or another actual antique if I were to purchase another airplane at this late
stage (I'm 69 now....with one leg missing). High on my list would be the
wonderful Ryan STA (I owned one back in the fifties) or, possibly an unrestored
Here is some
info from Janes World Aircraft book that Lindsey sent me.
It has some history and specs of the PJ-260.
for all the great pictures and really interesting history of the
PJ-260 Senior Aero Sport!
Other PJ-260 Information
The designer Nick D'Apposo is dead now. I found out that Jerry Tague, son in law of Nick D'Aposso runs Nick's comany he started called "A Wheels ". He is not selling plans, and really doesn't know much about the plans or the plane. He does have some parts for sale and sells flying wires for biplanes. His phone number is 1-215-843-7637.