An Afternoon with a Seafury and its Unique Owner

A friend of my father invited us to come take a look at this Hawker Sea Fury airplane, among a few other interesting aircraft. This particular Sea Fury was originally used in Australia before it eventually found its way to the hands of its current owner back in the late 1960's, iirc.

The plane weighs around 9,000lbs and is powered by an 18-cylinder supercharged dual-spark radial engine. It has no traditional valvetrain, instead using a ported cylinder sleeve. This sleeve moves up and down while rotating to alternately cover and uncover the intake and exhaust port in the cylinder. Power output is approximately 2,600hp.

An old yellow and green bi-plane

The bubble canopy of a P-51 Mustang

P-51 Mustang

The pale green and grey paint scheme is unique.

The Sea Fury in its original paint scheme.

My father stands next to the Seafury's fuselage.

My father.

Mr. Ellsworth Getchell, owner, pilot, and mechanic of this particular Hawker Seafury

The Sea Fury's owner for the last 30+ years, Mr. Ellsworth Getchell. He performs all maintenance on the plane himself and estimated it requires about 25-30 hours of maintenance for every 1 hour of flight time. Yep, you read that right. There's a reason most people don't have one of these lying around for occasional joyrides.

Mr. Getchell points out various engine components.

A few things are visible here - 3 of the cylinders are clearly visible and highlight the double-row arrangements of 9 radial cylinders. You can also see the 2 black lines running to the center of each cylinder. These are spark plug wires to power the 2 plugs per cylinder. Note also the exhaust pipes in green leading to the outlets just barely jutting out of the rear of the engine cowling.


My father pulls on the propellor.

My father slowly rotates the 5-blade prop to pre-oil the engine prior to start-up.

Looking along the Seafury's fuselage.

With helmet in hand, Mr. Getchell climbs up and into the cockpit.

The prop spins in a blur as the engine fires up.


While the Sea Fury waits for take-off, the Flying Dutchman comes in for a landing.



A shot of the control stick in 'safe' mode.

Inside the Sea Fury cockpit my eyes went straight toward the fire controls. Also, the flight stick is meant to be held by placing your palm flat onto the top of the 'loop' and wrapping the fingers around it. This felt very unnatural to me compared to the traditional vertical flight stick.

A shot of the control stick in 'fire' mode.

With safety cover flipped open, the camera button is covered and the wing-mounted machine gun switch (top) and rocket/bomb switch (bottom) are revealed.

Back in the hangar, Mr. Getchell stands on the wing alongside the cockpit where my father is seated.

Mr. Getchell points out the various cockpit controls to my father.


Looking past a variety of aircraft new and old, the sunset leaves an orange glow behind the distant hills.

Just another day in California.
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