Red Knight at Reno Air Races – An Aero Recip Engine

By John Pineau, MCP

Speed and power motivates Keith McMann, pilot and proud owner of The Red Knight, a wartime training aircraft scheduled to compete at this year’s Reno Air Races, September 10-14, 2008. In the same way McMann looks for even the slightest advantage while racing fifty feet above the ground at Reno, he looks for the same when it comes to gaining even the smallest power advantage, because power equates to speed, and speed, along with skill as a pilot, leads to victory. “There was a point where we made all the changes we could make on the airframe to increase the plane’s speed,” said McMann from his home in Delta, BC. “The next area of focus had to be the engine.”

The Red Knight’s engine was a stock Pratt & Whitney R1340. “We had always flown with a stock engine which needed to be improved. After hearing about Aero Recip I went to Winnipeg to check it out. I was impressed.”

While in the Manitoba capital, McMann met with Aero Recip President Alvin Gregorash who took him for a tour of the facility with a particular focus on their Dyno Test Cell. “I’ve been to a lot of engine facilities and haven’t seen a facility like the one in Winnipeg. It’s clean and professional, and the real difference is their ability to analyze engines.” According to McMann, the Dyno Test Cell and its computerized assessment system is like an engine doctor. “They can take a sick engine and tell you what’s wrong with it. I don’t know anyone who can Dyno big horsepower engines like they can. There are a lot of places that have test cells to prove that the engine is working right, but they don’t know what kind of power is coming out like Aero Recip does.”

Aero Recip’s attention to detail has McMann excited about this year’s race. As part of the plan to improve his R1340, Aero Recip carefully selected all nine pistons to ensure their weight was as close as possible. “Selecting pistons that weigh relatively the same creates balance in the engine which creates power,” McMann said. “The piston is just one area they focus on. The guys at Aero pay attention to detail because it’s detail that makes the difference in the end.”




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