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Thread: What brand do you smoke?

  1. #1
    Ben Redman's Avatar
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    What brand do you smoke?

    I'm looking for feedback on different brands of smoke oil before I buy a 55 gallon drum. If your airplane smokes, you've tried different brands and have a favorite I would like to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance for the feedback.

  2. #2

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    You will get more opinions on the IAC Acro "Exploder". Guys typically user Canopus/Corvus Oil, but there are more expensive options like Super-Dri that leave less of a mess on the belly.

    What type of airplane will you be making smoke in? On many airplanes, smoke goes down the belly, in around the tailwheel, and then back up inside the fuselage around the pilot.

    I think that 55 gals of Canopus costs something under $400 and is consumed at a rate of 1 gal / minute or so. But most guys get it for free at the airshows that they fly.

    Based on your name and location, may I assume that your father's name is Roy?

    Best of luck,

    Wes
    N78PS

  3. #3

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    Would you consider not using smoke oil and thus giving a break to the air and the rest of the folks who are breathing that air, especially if it is in a concentrated area like an airport or at an airshow? Does anyone really need to add to air pollution?

  4. #4

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    Interestingly, that point of view is more extreme than the position of the state and federal environmental staff. I once called the state EPA to ask whether there were any environmental concerns to my use of pyrotechnic smoke generators (M-18, F-18, and some commercial types) on my aircraft. These run for up to 90 secs and produce colored smoke. The answer that I got was that the short duration of the smoke reduced the level of their concern to essentially nothing.

    Airshows are an endangered species. They are vaudeville and in general they don't make money. The number of folks who have the interest, time, and skill to safely perform is a declining population. If you compare the entertainment value of different acts, you will note that the crowd of spectators expresses more enthusiastic appreciation of the airplane acts that employ lots of smoke and noise, than of the quiet acts like sailplanes. That said, to create a good show, you use the skydivers and sailplanes to change the pace of the show, to add variety, as all smoke and noise has a numbing effect.

    So the audience wants the smoke and performers need the audience, so it is unlikely that you will see a smoke free air show any time soon.

    Fly safe,

    Wes
    N78PS

  5. #5

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    Wes, do you think a performer could be good enough that the show was about his performance and his plane, and he would not need to pump oil or anything else out in the air? Ever hear of Duane Cole or see his act? He flew all over the U S for years without needing smoke to be notice,and he didn't need the noise either. .
    Judging an acro act by how much smoke ( or noise) it puts out is like judging a singer by how loud he/she is, or maybe nowadays a tennis player by how loud they can grunt on each shot.

    The idea that some part of govt is not concerned with what someone pumps into the air that we breathe is not very convincing. For decades factories used to pump tons of pollution into the air, even proudly had pictures on their stock of smokestacks belching out black smoke( hey, if it is good for Gen Motors who cares if kids can breathe); but the public knows better than that these days. For decades the govt was unconcerned with tobacco smoke, even subsidized it. Why not rig up a plane to blow that over the crowd?

    The amount of smoke produced by an acro plane may not be huge, but in the sum of a number of planes at somewhere like EAA will produce quite a bit in that one crowded and confined area, and at time blows right on the crowd. I have seen a number of times that non thinking or just noncaring pilots have turned on smoke right on the ground in the face of the crowd.

    You say the audience "wants the smoke" . How do you know? In my 30 years of flying I have never an airshow ask the crowd in any sort of a survey?vote if they would like clean air at the show or smoky air?
    I think the day of more clean air will come sometime. Why not have a pilot do it willingly because he cares about what others breathe ( which may include his family in the audience) and not wait until it is a regulation or law.

    I think it takes most likley a pilot who just has not thought about this issue and goes along with what was done in the past. Or else one who has such a momumental need to be noticed that he just doesn't care what he puts in the air.

  6. #6
    Hiperbiper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Redman View Post
    I'm looking for feedback on different brands of smoke oil before I buy a 55 gallon drum. If your airplane smokes, you've tried different brands and have a favorite I would like to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance for the feedback.
    I had my oil "built"...a light Hydrocarbon carrier with LOTS of parafin content. Non skin irritating. Non-health invasive. Make great smoke that really hangs! MSDS is non hazardous in ALL catogories. You could put a campfire out with it.
    Best thing is you can run over 2 quarts per minute in a 4/6 cylinder motor and the belly stays clean! With Canopus 13 the whole airplane had oil mist on it unless you ran it tight...and it stinks (I know it's the "airshow smell" but I wasn't a fan of coming home reeking of it...). My smoke actually has a sweet aroma. I didn't mean to do it. It just happened.
    Best of all is while Aeroshell and Phillips Aero both sell Canopus 13 for airshow work the price is $16.00/gallon + shipping (which was 425.00 per drum to my location). My oil costs me $less$ than 10.00 per gallon!!!

    In addition to full-scale airplanes some the local R/C club also are using this oil.

    As to Bill's comments; Duane, Lester and Marion all flew smokey, loud airshow-croud pleasing acro from the '40's to the '60's. Sammy Mason was billed as "Smoke and Noise". A crowd fave.
    My God! The Planet has survived since then!


    Nature is a lot smarter that some give it credit for...

    Chris (who has installed several smoke systems recently and feels no remorse).
    You Tube only proves that more airplanes have crashed due to Video Camaras than any other single reason...

  7. #7

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    The impact of smoke in an airshow performance - If you go to the US National Aerobatic championships in September, in north Texas, the competitors in the 4 Minute Free Program have the option to fly with smoke and to have music on the public address system. For the last several years that I can remember, the winner always made use of smoke and music. You can "feel" the difference in impact and just standing back you can tell who will post the highest score. You can find the rules for scoring in the IAC rulebook at the IAC web site. That is one measure of "audience appreciation".

    You can go to Oshkosh and compare the crowd reaction to an act with lots of smoke and noise to a quiet act with no smoke. I will note that even the sailplane acts use smoke. Smoke on a sailplane is expensive. I know as I used to buy it and use it. They would not spend the money unless there was a payback.

    The majority of airshows, that is the ones not funded by your tax dollars at a military facility, work on very thin margins. If you can formulate and sell a non-toxic smoke oil for less $$ than Canopus oil, they will buy it. No one is wedded to any particular brand of smoke oil. The performers use what the shows give them. And I should emphasize that. The shows buy the smoke oil. Go to the ICAS Convention in December in Las Vegas and sell your product.

    Those are the facts that I can offer to the discussion. I joke some days that you know that you are a real airshow professional when you fly your heart out on Saturday and Sunday and on Monday the check for your performance bounces at the bank. Been there. If you would like to learn how the business works and how fragile it is, go find a local airshow and volunteer to help. They will appreciate it and you will learn eye opening stuff.

    Fly safe,

    Wes
    N78PS

  8. #8

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    Chris, back before the 60s , people still thought it was fine to sit in a restaurant, theater, or other closed place and blow cigarette smoke in the air other people were breathing, even drive around doing it to children in a closed car. Blacks rode in the back of the bus. Cars did not have pollution controls, and you did not have most children in car seats and seat belts.
    I think we and the public have learned a few things since then and can and should do it better, on the things we know are right and wrong.

    I'll give you that there were probably more great planes around then, and an airliner may have even had a prop on the front of it like God, and Orville and Wilbur intended planes to have. And there weren't any cell phones, wonder what idiots wasted their time on then>

  9. #9

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    Chris - Tell us more, Can we purchase your magic blend? If so where / how?

  10. #10

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    What would Julie Clark's famous heart look like without the smoke drawing the heart in the sky? Definitely a true art form. When used effectively smoke adds a whole new dimension to the air show act. Give me smoke and lots of deep-throated engine noise. Now that's a show! I agree, we should not pour the smoke oil on the ground or pollute unnecessarily, but if the environmentalists don't appreciate our art form, they should go sit in the quiet solitude of the Grand Canyon that we can't fly over and enjoy their silence. And, please don't roast your marshmallows over an open camp fire. We don't need that smoke polluting up the canyon!

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