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David Howe   Harmon Rocket II

  
I knew the "Massey" name long before I was fortunate enough to meet Ken Massey and his staff at Massey Aircraft Services. Flying here in the San Joaquin Valley of central California since 1973 I had often heard the Massey name associated with the maintenance and restoration of all manner of general aviation aircraft as well as the aerial applicators, then known as "Dusters", but had never met Kenny (or any of his brothers) until I became acquainted with Jack Hogan and observed first hand his builder assist program with Massey Aircraft Services for his Harmon Rocket II.
Having long known the quality of the Massey name in this locale, I was somewhat apprehensive at
meeting Kenny for the first time, it felt like being introduced to a legend. Sometimes people with reputations have a tendency to think of themselves a bit larger than life and it shows in how they treat others. Nothing could be further from the truth with Ken or his staff at their shop in Shafter. Kenny and his Shop Manager, David Hallmark ( IA ) go out of their way to make sure you feel
comfortable when working with them on whatever project that is being considered.
Having already built an RV-4 and working on a Harmon Rocket II at the time, I had a pretty good idea at how "things" should look during the building process. Throughout Jack's project I tried to get to Massey's shop once or twice a month to see how it was coming along. Everything I saw was always well thought out, and carried out with skill and attention to detail The building crew would do as much or as little as required, as directed by the owner, allowing him/her to participate as much as they chose. The finishing and painting skills are top quality and the concern they have for the customer is genuine. These guys are the real deal in Harmon Rocket's. If your next project requires some outside help to get it completed, you will not be disappointed if you give Kenny or Dave a call to discuss your needs.

David Howe
~

Ross Anderson’s Comments on Massey Aircraft Service

   
In May 2003 Ross Anderson completed his Harmon Rocket II, N28BE, at Massey Aircraft Service. Anderson, a former U. S. Navy fighter pilot and Top Gun instructor, is a Los Angeles businessman. He is also owner of Square One Aviation at the Chino, CA, airport renowned for its P-51 Mustang aircraft restorations. (see www.sq1aviation.com)

Ross built the wings, fuselage and tail of his Rocket in Los Angeles and then took them to Massey Aircraft for final assembly, systems installation, painting and flight test. He designed his full IFR instrument panel himself and then contracted with Aerotronics, Inc., Billings, MT (www.aerotronics.com) for construction and wiring.

Massey Aircraft was chosen for completion because of its considerable experience in the construction of Rocket and RV series aircraft and its high quality workmanship. Massey’s general manager, David Hallmark, was project manager for this two year effort.

It goes without saying that best quality construction and assembly of a high performance aircraft like the Harmon Rocket is vital. But equally important is the proper flight testing of the airplane. The Massey facilities at Shafter Airport, CA, offer an exceptionally good environment for conducting such activity. Good weather, relatively uncrowded airspace and an airport that is very easy to operate out of are key characteristics of the Shafter area. These factors plus Massey’s on-site flight test support were major reasons why Anderson chose them for completion of his project. He said, “Flight testing is relatively easy when you have a good airplane to begin with and such superlative support from the Massey Aircraft group.”

Ross is very pleased with his airplane and the trouble-free 125 flight hours he has amassed as of December 2003 are a testimony to Massey Aircraft’s excellent workmanship and support. Ross says, “ David Hallmark and his crew are truly experts in the Rocket series aircraft and produce an outstanding product. David is very experienced and creative in solving mechanical problems. It was a pleasure to work with him! I heartily recommend Massey Aircraft Service for anyone undertaking this challenging yet rewarding project.”

 

Airline Captain Builds an Experimental Aircraft

Captain Jack Hogan
   
 
Decades of “Want To” were fulfilled with the assistance of Massey Aircraft Service of Shafter, California. Delta Boeing 767 Captain Jack Hogan began flying in 1967 as a USMC pilot. His career progressed from Uncle Sam to Uncle Del but he always wanted to build his own airplane. The choice of aircraft was solidified by a ride in John Harmon’s Rocket II. Being painfully aware of his background limitations Captain Hogan began to search for a shop that would help him fulfill his dream with out tragic flight results. That search was ended when he met Ken Massey and David Hallmark. The right mix of knowledge, tools, talent, patience, and location was found at Minter Field.

The RV-4 kit was delivered in September of 1999. Initial progress was slow as the learning curve was steep, but progress was made with the Vans Aircraft portion of the process. John Harmon’s shop is less than twenty miles from Shafter/Minter making both parts and advice readily available. A zero since major Lycoming engine was procured from Lycon Rebuilding Company of Visalia, California. With the exception of prop, engine, instruments and radios the entire aircraft was built and painted at Massey Aircraft Service.

Effort was made to improve the well-known performance characteristic of the Harmon Rocket. With seventy years of combined experience in the aircraft industry Ken Massey and David Hallmark were extremely helpful in this undertaking. The cowling was modified to accept a pressure chamber cooling system. High performance wing tips were added, as were various fairings.

First flight was uneventful. Some teething problems were worked out with the pressure chamber cooling system and the twenty-five hour test phase was completed. Included in the test program were a number of aerobatic maneuvers. With a weight to horsepower ratio less than six to one vertical maneuvers were effortless. The RV series of aircraft are well known for a high roll rate, which the higher speeds of the Rocket II compliment. The high-speed tests were called complete when the aircraft reached an indicated two hundred and fifty knots.

Captain Hogan has been very happy with the results of his association with Massey Aircraft Service. The performance of the project exceeds all the specifications stated by John Harmon. The aircraft is now based at Santa Paula, but makes very regular trips from SZP to MIT for coffee and a visit with good friends.
 

Jan Hoeffel

Making a Super Stallion Super      

In 1993, Jan Hoeffel, a former USN carrier and test pilot and later Assistant to Pan Am’s Chief Test Pilot, began flying his SX 300 after an 8 year building project. Although the SX 300 is a superb, high performance airplane that has since accumulated almost 1200 hours, his pending retirement from a public company he founded and a growing number of grandchildren triggered a desire to be able to carry more than 2 people, one thing the SX300 can’t do.

 

In 1994, Martin Hollmann introduced the 4 seat Stallion prototype, often described as a composite Cessna 210. It was soon to become the Super Stallion, one of the few 6 seat kit airplanes and one of the largest kits. It looked to be an attractive, good performing airplane, but a basic, barebones, not easy to build kit. In early 1999, having learned that Massey Aircraft Service had just completed the first Stallion kit airplane to fly, Jan approached Ken Massey with his ideas for more fully developing the kit’s potential and Ken agreed to undertake the project.

 

Construction began in mid-1999. The finished airplane is expected to fly in early 2004. A long list of changes, additions and modifications added considerably to the construction challenge and the hours required. A 450 HP liquid cooled, turbo charged V8 replaced the twin turbo’d 350 HP Continental engine; a lightweight AeroComposite carbon propeller replaced the Hartzell prop; a completely redesigned carbon cowl with internal plenums and a cowl flap for ground cooling replaced the larger stock fiberglass cowl; a dual battery/dual alternator fully fused system provides electrical power; the windshield was raked; all antennae are internal; separate fresh air, heating and air conditioning systems were designed and installed; entry, cargo and landing gear hinges and doors were redesigned; a retractable entry step was installed; lift rings and jack points were added; a 6-place oxygen system and middle seat storage brackets were added in the tail; the turtleback was raised to reduce reverse flow drag and exhaust cabin air; servo tabs were added to the ailerons to reduce roll control forces; a closed loop aileron cable system was designed; 3-axis digital autopilot servos were added as well as 3-axis electric trim; wing tips were modified to improve fuel tank venting, reduce full tank fuel spillage and incorporate taxi lights; wing flap hinges were redesigned to reduce drag, provide tiedown attachment and incorporate adjustable up stops; a tail skid/tiedown and maintenance access panels were added; and a large number of interior cabin panels, control surface gap seals and fairings were laid up.

 

A unique folding instrument panel provides easy access to avionics and flight instruments. The panel was designed and installed by San Luis Avionics (www.sanluisav.com), a highly regarded FAA repair facility and avionics dealer in San Luis Obispo owned by Jan and Don Dominguez, its General Manager. Equipment includes the Sierra Flight Systems dual EFIS, TruTrak digital autopilot, UPS CNX 80 WAAS GPS/Comm/Nav and MX 20 MFD, backed up by a Dynon EFIS.

 

This is a challenging 4,500+ hour project. It would have been a nightmare without the decades of experience, extensive equipment and true aircraft savvy of Ken Massey, lead builder A&P AI David Hallmark and their crew. According to Jan, “It turned out to be a bigger project than anyone envisioned at the start, yet there was nothing they couldn’t do or get done. We even designed and built an onboard folding stepladder to reach the tanks for fueling. Their patience, perseverance and willingness to innovate has kept the project interesting and pleasurable, and their work has been superb. When the 35’ wings were closed out and the top skins were flooded with water to check for smoothness, there wasn’t a ripple to be seen. Fit and finish make a big difference in minimizing drag and this ‘Super’ Stallion looks as if it came from a Japanese automaker. I expect it to outperform the Extra 400 in speed, range and payload at half the price.  My hat’s off to Massey Aircraft Service!”

 

23 Jan 04   Larry L. Graham         

Having known Ken Massey for a number of years, it was, indeed, a pleasure to hear he and his capable staff were available to work on my plane. The opportunity to have modifications performed on the Glasair III, locally, was received with enthusiasm. Not only was the plane in need of an Annual, but other modifications were desired, too. The cowling needed modifications and refitting. Both the doors and the landing gear fairings didn’t fit as well as desired, plus the inner gear doors required installation. Additionally, the electric rudder trim, door windows, and slotted wing flaps need to be installed. After all this work is completed, a total repaint is planned.

I’ve worked with the Massey staff for the past 6 months on my project. The ‘family’ atmosphere along with the professionalism demonstrated by each employee makes the sharing of knowledge enjoyable. Their workmanship is exceptional. We are nearing completion of all the changes, and the results are terrific. It has been an amazing educational experience working with the talented members of the Massey team.

Larry L. Graham
 

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MASSEY AIRCRAFT SERVICE
521 Aviation Street
Shafter, California 93263
(661) 392-0838/Fax (661) 392-1733
fixnfly@msn.com

 

© 2002 - Massey Aircraft Service