Website of the Antique Airplane Association and the Airpower Museum Last Update: Jun 21 2019

Paul Ennis' 2T-1 "Menasco Special"

By Paul Ennis

My father, Fred E. Ennis, was a charter member of the "Black Cat Flying Club" which originally purchased the 1929 Great Lakes 2T-1A powered by an American Cirrus of 90 hp. In late 1931, my father bought the other members out and became the sole owner of NC-818K.

NC-818K had been tied down outside on Roosevelt Field for three years and the nitrate dope and Irish linen was not holding up too well, so he stripped the fabric off the ship for recovering in early 1932.

Photo #1 was taken during the recovering process in our back yard in Suffern, New York in early 1932, and shows my dad holding me at age of 1 1/2 years in the rear cockpit. Note my right hand on the stick This was my first "checkout" in the Great Lakes.

During this first rebuild several modifications were made to NC-818K. The prop was changed from the original Paragon woodprop (which still hangs over our fireplace) to a Hamilton Standard ground adjustable steel propeller. Also the wheels were changed form the original 24X4 low pressure tires to 22X10-4 air wheels and then to 6.50X10 wheels with mechanical brakes.
Later, a pair of Hills Brothers aluminum wheel pants were purchased and installed over the 6.50X10 wheels.

In 1932, my dad built an airport in Tallman, New York called "Spook Rock Airport". He used this name because after spending much time clearing all the rocks and boulders from the runway, there always seemed to be another one popping up on the runway just as he was about to land.


Photo #2 shows the Great Lakes in the hangar at "Spook Rock", with his 1930 Kinner Bird standing outside in the snow. Note the "winter cover" on the Cirrus cylinders on the right side.


Photo #3 is our Great Lakes at Cincinnati Ohio during the 1933 "Liberty Aerial Treasure Hunt". This was an air cruise sponsored by Bernard MacFadden of Liberty Magazine which started in St. Louis, Missouri and ended in New York City. The task was to find the letters L-I-B-E-R-T-Y which had been placed on the ground in various cities between St. Louis and New York using clues printed on cards,given to each contestant just before they took off on the next leg of the trip.

Photo #4 is at Roosevelt Field, the final landing site of the "Liberty Aerial Treasure Hunt". Note our Great Lakes second from the end My dad came in 8th out of 90 entrants.


Photo #5. On the 1933 Florida Air Tour. Stopped at Chapel Hill, North Carolina for-gas en route to Miami.


Photo #6 shows NC-818K at the original Salisbury Airport in 1935. The aircraft in the background is our Spartan C2 with a 60 h.p. Jacobs 3 cylinder radial which we used for student instruction.


Photos #7 and #8, May 19, 1938, the Great Lakes, NC-818K, carries the first airmail from Eastern Shore of Maryland to Logan Field, Baltimore and return. The picture shows my dad in the cockpit with Mr. Brown of the Post Office handing him the mail bag. Note cover over front cockpit which was used when flying solo, as it kept a lot of wind out of the rear cockpit.

The airmail envelopes used in the 1938 Airmail Week celebration carried the picture of our Great Lakes and my dad. This letter was sent by my mother to my grandmother in Suffern, New York.

In 1943 the original Cirrus engine was replaced with a Menasco C-4 due to the Cirrus throwing a rod through the crankcase. NC818K was rebuilt in 1964 and painted white and orange with blue pin-striping. for a time the cowl and wheelpants were burnished aas they are today, but eventually painted white. NC818K was once again torn down in 1990 for a total rebuild.

Photo #9 shows NC-818K with lower wing to fuselage fairings and a "racing" windshield.


Paul Ennis with his wife Ellie, checking out the fit of the rear cockpit while the ship was put together before covering during the latest rebuild. NC818K was test flown in August 1996 after 6 years of restoration by Paul who soloed this Great Lakes on his 16th birthday, 50 plus years ago.


Photo # 11 taken in 1994 during precover assembly to check out rigging. The latest restoration included new fuselage wood stringers, all new cockpit aluminum and coaming and cowling. The headrest and the wheelpants are the original parts. Note windshield mock-up on rear cockpit for 3 piece type rather than wrap around. A new nosebowl was made by John Neel of Grim, Georgia using the old nosebowl as a guide. Note the burnishing on the cowl, wheelpants, spinner and cockpit coamings. This burnishing was done using 1" diameter round fine wire brush in 3/8" electric drill. It is sprayed with 4 coats of clear acrylic enamel to protect from corroding.


Photos # 12 and 13, all artwork on 818K is handpainted by Clue Reister of Berlin, Maryland.


NC818K at home on Ennis Aerodrome (Old Salisbury Airport)


Paul and Ellie out enjoying a summer ride in their "small tail" Great Lakes.


The Great Lakes is covered in 102 Ceconite using the Randolph Dope process for finish. The wins are Silver Butyrate dope and the fuselage and tail are Stinson/Boston Maroon Butyrate dope. The film used in these pictures sometimes makes the maroon look red depending on the amount of sunlight.

We replaced the old C4 Menasco engine with a D4-87 Menasco. The aircraft performs well with the Menasco giving a cruise of 100 MPH at 1950 RPM with Sensenich 80 inch long X 70 pitch wood prop.

Paul and Ellie Ennis