Earl Ortman – Gilmore Oil Keith Rider R-3 M-B Special
First Albuquerque Visit: 1935
The Keith Rider R-3, N14215, was built from Keith Rider’s design during 1933 and 1934. In 1936 it was purchased by Hal Marcoux, who was employed at Douglas Aircraft. He and Jack Bromberg, also from Douglas, carried out major modifications and called the plane the “Marcoux-Bromberg Special”. It was powered by the Pratt and Whitney Wasp Jr., Wasp and finally a Twin Wasp Jr. Special engines.
In 1936, the plane, with Earl Ortman as the pilot, qualified for the Thompson Trophy Race and took second place in the race at an average speed of 248 mph. It also took second place at the Thompson race in 1937, and 1938, and third in 1939. In 1936 it won the Golden Gate Trophy and in 1937 took second in the Bendix Transcontinental. The aircraft was also featured in the Clark Gable movie, ‘Test Pilot’. The Marcoux-Bromberg Special was always piloted by Earl Ortman .
Earl Ortman was the first aviator to test and master this new plane. It was to eventually become his signature racing vehicle. Ortman won several races with the Marcoux-Bromberg, including the Golden Gate International Air Races and the National Thompson Trophy Race in 1938. The same year, he flew the Keith Rider R-5 Jackrabbitt in the Greve Trophy Race and came in fourth place. His successes in 1938 drew the attention of the U.S. military, who hired him to test military aircraft. He remained a military aircraft tester throughout WWII.
At the end of the war, Ortman returned to the air-racing scene. He went on to fly in the Sohio Trophy Race and the Thompson Trophy Race in 1946 and the Continental Motors Race in 1948, though he never recreated the success he attained in 1938.
Earl Ortman flew his Marcoux-Bromberb Special, aircraft number NR14215, in the 1935 Bendix Race. The plane stopped at the Albuquerque Airport at Oxnard Field for refueling on Sept. 31, 1935. The aircraft was sponsored by Gilmore Oil Co. Ortman took second place in the 1936 Thompson Trophy Race and second place in the 1937 Bendix Race.
Photos show the aircraft on the ramp at Albuquerque with the words, “Gilmore Special the Record Breaker” shown on the engine cowling in the front of the plane. The registration number NR-14215 can be seen on the tail.
Another photo shows mechanics at Albuquerque cleaning and servicing the airplane during the Bendix Trophy Race. The Albuquerque Airport founder, Frank Speakman, is standing to the left.
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