A Most Unusual Airplane
An interested fellow pilot is admiring the front office of a Lockwood Air Cam II airplane while talking to the plane’s owner and pilot, Presley Melton of North Little Rock, Arkansas. Both are attending the annual fly-in sponsored by the Razorback Wing of the Experimental Aircraft Association on Grider Field at the Pine Bluff Regional Airport in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Though there was not a “most unusual airplane” prize competition at the event, if there had been one, Presley’s plane would have won it hands down.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Pine Buff, Arkansas
While photographing some old WW II era birds at the annual fly-in sponsored by the Razorback Wing of the Experimental Aircraft Association on Grider Field at the Pine Bluff Regional Airport in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, I noticed a rather unusual aircraft taxiing in from a landing. It was a twin-engine “pusher” that was not much more than a giant wing, two engines, and a two-place mosquito-like fuselage.
An Bird to Ogle
Presley Melton taxis his Air Cam II off the runway to park and let admirers ogle the unusual bird.
I followed the plane’s progress with a snapping shutter until it finally turned and stopped. When I approached the aircraft the pilot said something to the effect of, “I bet your name is Dempsey.” After a brief exchange and re-introduction I discovered that I was talking with Presley Melton, an aircraft enthusiast from North Little Rock. Presley and I became acquainted at the 2010 edition of the fly-in after he arrived in his pristinely restored 1943 Howard DGA 15-P. After a few minutes of conversation at our first meeting, we discovered that he attended Ouachita Baptist University (then “College”) with my brother Hank, who is also a pilot.
The plane makes its turn off the taxiway.
He explained the provenance of the Air Cam II. Seems National Geographic approached Lockwood to build an airplane suitable to photograph Africa from the air. The result of that conversation culminated in the first “Air Cam,” which satisfied the National Geographic requirements. Light, dependable, good at low and slow, and twin-engined, ‘just in case.’
Seeing the aircraft from the right rear quarter, one can appreciate the no-nonsense approach to the design.
The National Geographic project went well. When they finished their project, they left the original in Africa. Once the pictures hit the mainstream, people began to ask about the project and the aircraft from which it was shot. The upshot was: “We want one.” And the rest is history. Lockwood now provides the aircraft to enthusiasts in kit form. You can check out their site and see more. You will discover that “low and slow” is very cool indeed.
A closer look from the right rear quarter.
Up close and personal with the right Rotax, 4-cylinder, 100 horsepower engine for our ‘geahead’ friends.
What Is Does Best
And folks, here it is: the Air Cam II doing what it does best, flying. Bernoulli’s principle is alive and well.
See pictures of the old warbirds at
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.
You will also see a finely restored
’55 Oldsmobile Holiday two-door coupe.
They had big engines and would
leave a red-light in a cloud of smoke.
Click, go and enjoy.