Tsunami Racer

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Tsunami Racer
Tsunami Attempts To Break The 3k World Speed Record.jpg
Role Racing aircraft
National origin United States
Designer Bruce Boland
John R. Sandberg
Pete Law
Ray Poe
First flight August 17, 1986
Primary users John R. Sandberg
Steve Hinton
Skip Holm
Produced 1986
Number built 1
Unit cost
$1million +

Tsunami[1][2][3] is an experimental purpose-built racing aircraft. After 6 long years of building the aircraft was first flown August 17, 1986 by test pilot Steve Hinton, Tsunami was designed specifically to break the 3 km world speed record for propeller driven aircraft by a private pilot and to compete in the Unlimited class at the Reno Air Races. The aircraft was designed by Bruce Boland an aerospace engineer employed by Lockheed Martin, John R. Sandberg owner of JRS Enterprises Inc, that rebuilt Allison, Rolls Royce, Merlin aircraft engines along with Lockheed engineer Pete Law and builder Ray Poe. Powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine that was designed and built by John R. Sandberg and the JRS Enterprise Inc. team, Tsunami exceeded 500 mph.

Originally, it was designed as a light-weight racer with a single-staged supercharged Rolls-Royce Merlin. However, as speed increased in the Unlimited Racing Class, a higher powered two-stage supercharged Rolls-Royce Merlin was installed. An attempt was made in August 1989 to break the 3 km world speed record at Wendover Utah with John R. Sandberg (a private pilot) at the controls. Due to a landing gear collapse the aircraft was unable to beat the existing record.

Despite being very fast, in its racing career from 1986 to 1991 it only won one Unlimited Gold Race, in Sherman Texas in 1990.


The program ended in 1991 when the owner John Sandberg lost his life while ferrying the aircraft home. The NTSB report states that the airspeed indicator was off and a mechanical failure in the flap system, causing the aircraft to roll on final approach into Pierre, SD on September 25, 1991.[4][5][6]

Specifications (Tsunami Racer)[edit]

Data from Air Progress

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m)
  • Wingspan: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
  • Airfoil: 63212
  • Empty weight: 5,100 lb (2,313 kg)
  • Gross weight: 7,000 lb (3,175 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 120
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce Merlin race modified V-12, 3,000 hp (2,200 kW)



  1. ^ Tegler, John (August 1980). "New Unlimited Racer Under Construction". Air Classics. 16. 
  2. ^ Wallace, Lane (December 2009). "Tsunami Rises Again?". Flying Magazine. 
  3. ^ Patton, Tom. "Rebuilding A Legacy". Aero Tv. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Cox, Jack (May 1983). "Tsunami". Sport Aviation. 
  5. ^ Cox, Jack (December 1986). "Tsunami". Sport Aviation. 
  6. ^ Hoffman, Carl (August 2004). "Wingtip TO Wingtip At 450 mph 30 Feet Above The Ground Sideways". Popular Science. 

External links[edit]