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Israel Redhead

Gordon Israel moved to Stinson, where he worked as a welder. He was merely marking time, though, and soon the opportunity came to design a new racer. Israel came up with the Redhead, a slippery, tricky airplane powered by a six-cylinder supercharged Menasco Buccaneer.

A friend of Israel's agreed to give the airplane its first flight, and Jimmy Doolittle, who'd heard about the test, was there to lend advice. Doolittle counseled the pilot, “Don't be too anxious to land. Keep the airspeed up and let it float down." The pilot's brother took a dim view of that and, unsolicited from Israel, rendered his own verdict: "You better bring it in nose high or you'll never get it down inside the airport." The pilot placed greater faith in family than experience and bent the Menasco's crankshaft in a brutally hard landing. Doolittle calmed Israel, persuading him not to tear the engine down and have another go the same day. Instead, Doolittle took him to his office at Shell Oil and gave him a Shell sticker. The sticker went on the airplane, and Shell sprang for a brand new crank. Israel took his time rebuilding the engine revealing some ruined bearings in addition to the crank failure; after he got the engine sorted out, he flew the airplane himself to a third-place finish in his first-ever attempt as a race pilot.


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