LedBetter's Flying Circus
1918 JN-4D "Black Cat"
- a collection of wood, wire & brass restored with passion, Ranger Airfield is bringing a signature aircraft of the barnstorming era back to life and honoring the most famous flying troupe ever.
the 13 Black Cats
"If a Black Cat can't do it - it can't be done."
The Black Cats motto above said it all and what these madcap men and women accomplished while using the Jenny's wings, struts and wires as their playground was nothing short of breathtaking. Wingwalking stunts, changing tires in flight, intentional crashes - the Cats executed it all with style and humor!
Organized by 13 members, the Cats flamboyantly thumbed their noses at superstition and death in the 1920s. Their uniforms were simple; a black sweater adorned with a black cat patch. However, their antics were anything but, and they priced each stunt à la carte. Their menu read in part: Ship change - $100 • Fight on upper wing, two men, one falls off - $225 • Loop with man on each wing, standing up - $450 • Blow plane up mid-air, pilot chutes out - $1500.
Sadly by 1929, new regulations and cheap competition forced the Cats to disband. The 13 Black Cats may have flown for only five years but in that golden age of aviation the legend of America's greatest stunt team and their Jennies was born.
Help get Ranger Airfield's Curtiss Jenny flying by becoming a Black Cat below.
Three ways you can
Experience and Support the Jenny
Your contribution is tax deductible.
Donate $750 to help get the Jenny flying. Once flying you will be offered a ride in the Jenny, get to sign the Jenny’s flight log and receive an “I flew the Jenny” t-shirt. Your contribution is tax deductible, ride is transferrable, and some restrictions apply.
Donate $30 and receive a Black Cats t-shirt to show your support of the Jenny and volunteer-maintained Ranger Airfield. Sizes range from S to XXL.
1918 Curtiss JN-4D sn 6200 specifications:
Length: 27 ft 4 in
Wingspan: 43 ft 7¾ in
Height: 9 ft 10½ in
Wing area: 352 ft2
Empty weight: 1,390 lb
Max. takeoff weight: 1,920 lb
Powerplant: 1 × Curtiss OX-5 V8 piston, 90 hp
Propeller: Paragon 8 ft 3 in
"Air crash averted!"
Gladys Ingle - What a Gal!
Gladys Ingle of the 13 BLACK CATS changes planes in mid-air to replace a lost wheel.