Bruce Bohannon’s Flyin’ Tiger has completed its mission for ExxonMobil Corp.
A highly customized RV-4, the Flyin’ Tiger set 30 records in the past seven years under Exxon sponsorship.
“The primary purpose of the sponsorship was to increase awareness of Exxon Elite in the general aviation marketplace and demonstrate the quality and reliability of Exxon Elite’s performance in a high demand application,” said Steve Sunseri of ExxonMobil. “Bruce and the Flyin’ Tiger did this brilliantly. We achieved our goals.”
The Flyin’ Tiger made its debut at Sun ‘n Fun 1999. Since then it has established or broken several records, including Time to Climb World Record in class C-1.b (piston powered aircraft with a takeoff weight between 1,102 and 2,204 pounds). The Tiger also holds the Absolute Altitude (47,067 feet) and the Altitude in Horizontal Flight (46,919 feet) records in class C-1.b. It also holds records as the fastest climbing piston engine aircraft to 6,000 meters (19,685 feet), 9,000 meters (29,528 feet) and 12,000 meters (39,370).
That leaves only one established world record in the time to climb category — and one that Bohannon wants to break. That’s the 3,000 meter time to climb set in 1972 by Lyle Shelton in the Rare Bear at just 1 minute, 31 seconds. Bohannon’s goal: 1 minute, 28 seconds.
“I believe we can break that record — we’re going to break something,” he joked at this year’s Sun ‘n Fun. “I think that’s the most fun you can have with your socks on.”
Bohannon is seeking a new sponsor, but says Flyin’ Tiger will continue its quest to make history. “There are some things we can do without a sponsor, but money does make the world go around,” he said. “I think it’s just amazing that I’ve gotten away without having a real job for so many years.”