1927 Curtiss Robin with an OX-5 engine

On my way up to the Oshkosh Fly-In I got the chance to stop by and visit a long time friend of mine, Henry Haigh, and thank him for the donation of his gorgeous Curtiss Robin to the World’s Greatest Aircraft Collection. Henry lives just outside of Detroit, Michigan and I had not seen him in many years.

I first met Henry in 1973 at the US National Aerobatic Championships in Texas. It was my first Nationals in the beginning Sportsman Catagory and he was flying Unlimited in a modified Pitts. Having already built most my first airplane in High School, I was already fascinated with developing and building an aerobatic airplane of my own design.  Since Henry was in the process of modifying his plane and trying new things, and at age 20, I spent a lot of time asking questions.

Curtiss Robin Cockpit

I had not seen Henry in many years and felt I needed to stop by and reminisce about old times as we’re not getting any younger.  He’s now 87 and has recently had some health problems.  On the way to his house, I got the chance to stop by and see his son Henry Jr. whom I had also not seen in years.  He  just happened to have a 40% R/C scale model of my Weeks Solution, which he says flies great.  Now how cool is that!

With 40% R/C Weeks Solution

Anyway, not only did I want to catch up with Henry Sr. and reminice about old times, but personally thank him  for the donation of the Robin.  We recently assembled the aircraft and ran its OX-5 engine with the intent of getting it flying soon.  It will make a great addition to the displayable aircraft at Fantasy of Flight and will one day make a great character for my series of illustrated children’s books!

Thanking Henry for the Robin with his 18 WAC medals in the background

Henry and I became great friends over the years and flew on six US Teams together.  At the 1988 World Aerobatic Championships in Red Deer, Canada he bested me by 35 points out of 17,000 to become Overall World Aerobatic Champion!  I was happy for him and can’t complain for the second place finish because I think I’ve won more medals than anybody in US Aerobatic History with a total of 20!  But I will always wonder if the Robin donation was a way to help make me feel better.  No complaints from me Henry, and a big thanks for not only the Robin but for being such a great long-time friend as well!

Kermit

Weeks Solution over Mesa, AZ where I won my first of two US National Aerobatic Championships

Weeks Solution over Mesa, AZ where I won my first US National Aerobatic Championships

Unbelievably, several weeks ago someone broke into one of our offsite storage facilites and stole the engine off my Weeks Solution biplane!  By chance, one of my mechanics happened to be in the facility the next morning and noticed a bunch of oil on the floor.  Since most of the airplanes in storage are in pieces, he didn’t initially notice the whole front end of the airplane was missing until he saw some of the engine cowling lying about.

Apparently, the perpetrators had previously broken in and staked the place out first.  It is all you can do to walk through as it is packed with almost no floorspace.  They must have decided the only thing they could get out the door with any value was my engine so, they came back and actually cut it off the engine mount!  No small feat since there’s no lights or electricity in the building.  It would have taken at least three people to get it off, drag it 30 feet out the door, and then lift the 300 lb. engine into the back of a small pickup truck.

Kermit with Weeks Solution at WAC 1986

At the World Aerobatic Championships in England 1986

The police came out the next morning, we filed a report, and there was a LOT of press including, two news stations, several papers, a magazine, and a radio station.  I’m sure it was thieves in the local area and the engine is probably destined for an airboat, because without the log books the engine could not be used in an airplane without an overhaul.

I designed and built the airplane myself and first test flew it in 1980.  I flew it in competitions around the world until it was highly damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.  I’m sure the thieves had no idea the historical value of the engine, as it powered me to become a two-time US National Aerobatic Champion and win 12 medals in four World Aerobatic Championships.

Winning Team Gold Medal in WAC 1984 - Hungary

Kermit winning Gold with US Team in Hungary 1984

We notified every engine builder and airboat shop in the area as well as the Fish & Wildlife agency so everyone is on the lookout.  It is a six-cylinder 300 hp. Lycoming IO-540, serial number L 8000-48 with a non-standard sump on it.  Most Lycoming engines are painted grey but mine was black.

If you happen to run across it, and can help me get it back intact, I’m offering a $5000 reward.  Thanks for your interest and please pass the word!

Kermit