Everyone had their cameras ready, the builders holding their breath and we will let Bob explain what followed:
"It was very exciting to see this beautiful aircraft ready to do what airplanes do, FLY! Others have said that I am cool under pressure. I do not know if this is true, however if you have experience and knowledge of aerodynamics you know what to expect.. We have a short coupled bi-plane that might just snap on take-off if it is not balanced properly or if I stall it. I was pretty certain it would fly great but just be ready I told myself."
"I believe in having plenty of throws in case I need them, but I know how to use only the amount I need. The 39 pound, eight foot long, 1/3rd scale R3C-2 seaplane leaped forward at the touch of the throttle and was soon planning on the step. I applied more elevator, and more again, then fed in all of the "UP" I had (which was a bunch), but the big bird still refused to lift. My heart began to sink, and I was about to give up when, suddenly, the Curtiss shot skyward. Level off I silently told myself, now gently bring her around. Careful, keep up the airspeed. As our proud giant turned and came roaring back and past us, my spirits lifted, even soared and all thoughts of the time, the worries, the lost sleep, missed dinners, glued fingers, painted clothes, and constant frustrations, everything negative simply vanished. Our team had built a great airplane. With experience, you can feel the aircraft and you know if it is bad, good or great. The Curtiss was great, and I had such confidence in the plane that I turned to the press and asked "Where do you want it and at what attitude!" When the photographers were done, it was time to get our bird back on the water. As predictable this aircraft had been so far, I felt confident in the landing. With flying wires, floats and two wings, I thought I would need a little power to control the glide slope. I set up for what I thought would be a touchdown right in front of us, and as she flew by some 20 feet altitude, I decided to go ahead and land. I had a whole lake in front of me and I eased her down some hundred feet away. Behind me I heard the builders start to breath again. I taxied back, had great water control and the day was a huge success.
"The only thing that concerned me was the take-off. What could be wrong? I am sure that I designed the floats to scale. Yes, the step seemed pretty far aft but rechecking I found it to be in the scale location. I am sure those guys back then knew what they were doing, right?"
"Thomas Foxworth was a fan of what we were doing and he called to see how the first flight went. I told him it went great except the take-off concerned me, and he laughed. I have something I will send you" he said. As mentioned earlier, Thomas Foxworth sent us a video, from newsreel footage, of Jimmy Doolittle taking off in his R3C-2. His aircraft preformed exactly the same as ours. Long take-off run and sudden pitch up, just as ours does. Bob Martin sent a video of our R3C-2 to Doolittle and had the opportunity to speak to him about this. Doolittle thought back and told Bob that it was tricky on take-off but a great flying airplane. He said " I would taxi out at 90 degrees to the take-off area, pull the stick into my stomach, advance the throttle until full, duck my head down into the cockpit to avoid the water spray from the prop. The plane would run to the left 90 degrees before reaching take-off speed, and all of a sudden it would break loose, pitch up and I would push the stick forward to level off."
"I will always be grateful to Jimmy Doolittle for the kindness he showed us. He is a gentle man, an incredible test pilot, war hero and friend to anyone who truly loves aviation. When asked if he would honor us in being our Grand Marshall of the Schneider Cup Re-enactment he says regrettably no. Sensing my disappointment, he said, "It is not your event young man, I turned down the Air Force too! My wife is not feeling well and I wish to stay with her."
After the first flight, we brought the Curtiss back to Bobs shop to check it over. We found that our flying/landing wires were not strong enough. One was broke and the others showed fatigue. We replaced the clock spring Proctor flying wires and brass turnbuckles with 303 stainless strips, custom clevises and steel turnbuckles. Re-rigged and tuned, the Curtiss never needed further attention.
We made several more flights, partly checking out everything, learning the take off procedure, but mostly because it was a blast to fly. We live on a lake that is a recreation area and there are a lot of boats out everyday. When we flew the Curtiss, it would draw a lot of attention and boats, sometimes blocking the landing area which provided us with some excitement sometimes.
Bob kept saying that the Curtiss was a great flying airplane, just as Doolittle noted of the original. All future flights proved that even the take-off was predictable. Bob would give it full throttle, full up elevator and when the Curtiss was ready it would pitch up, he would give down elevator until level and fly, just like Doolittle.