The tapering fuselage, speed ring cowling, and sloped windshield hearken back to the racing airplanes of the 1930’s. The airbrushed blood in the paint comes straight from the opening scene of a horror movie. The modern prop, nearly full span ailerons, and attention to detail on the weight are 21st century technology. The Franklin Demon-1 biplane, known as “Dracula” was originally conceived by Kyle and his late father Jimmy. Dracula combines the crowd pleasing lines of the iconic Waco Mystery Ship with modern aerodynamics and systems, resulting in a smaller, lighter, significantly more maneuverable and powerful airplane.
Commenting on his new airplane, Franklin said: “I’m extremely pleased with the features in Drac’s design. The nearly full span ailerons give Drac a roll rate over 300 degrees per second and the two-color smoke system was custom made for the vampire theme of this act. The engine is the very first direct port fuel injected R-985 P&W with over 500 horsepower, built by Tulsa Aircraft Engines and Airflow Performance. The lightweight MT propeller is one of two in the world flying and gives me maximum performance with a nearly 80 pound weight savings. Drac was designed from the beginning to be trailered to every air show – the trailering feature gives me maximum reliability, I don’t have to worry about weather when I’m traveling to an air show. I’ve also renewed my commitment to air show safety in this airplane with the Amanda Switch. In a severe impact, it automatically shuts off the supply of fuel and smoke oil to the engine.” Dracula was also built with an emphasis on weight. The fuel system holds just 26 gallons, enough for a blood chilling performance and a safe reserve.
Evolving over a nine-year design and construction period, Dracula was completed in secrecy, but now the world can see the latest manifestation of Kyle Franklin’s creativity.
Prepare your souls for an encounter with immortality – prepare yourselves for Dracula!
Photos by Larry Raulston
Wing-Tip Draggin' Comedy Act
This one-of-a kind wild and crazy
comedy act puts Kyle Franklin as Ben Whabnaski, the annoying drunk who
wants his airplane ride that was promised to him. Much different from
your typical flying farmer routine, this routine will get everyone on
their feet and roaring with laughter. The effort and skill Kyle displays
is amazing to say the least. Most pilots only put a wingtip on the ground
during ground loops. Kyle Franklin does it for fun so often, that his
cub needs skid plates taped on the wingtips! This is truly a show stealing
The World's Only Motorcycle to Airplane Transfer
In 1972, Franklins Flying Circus performed the first motorcycle-to-airplane transfer. Now managed by Kyle Franklin, FFC is still the only group performing this incredible feat! The Super Cub is equipped with a 15 foot, 100LB ladder that Kyle drops shortly after take off. He then circles around and pilots the Cub down the centerline of the runway at the proper height and speed as if it were on rails. On the stunt man's signal, the bike driver accelerates the motorcycle to over 80 mph to catch up with Kyle as soon as possible. The timing of the start is as critical as the timing of the transfer. Suddenly, the airplane and the motorcycle become united by the body of the daredevil which passes between them. On Kyle's signal, he pulls away with his new passenger, allowing the driver just enough time to stop the bike before the runway ends. However, the transfer is only half the show! The stuntman will then attempt a series of freestyle stunts including the Why would you do that, which finds him hanging upside down by his legs, less than 100 feet off the ground! Without safety wires, cables, or parachute, the stuntman's life depends completely on his own strength as well as Kyles piloting skills. Finally, he climbs the ladder, gets in the airplane, and pulls the ladder up behind him, which is a trick in itself. It takes careful planning, lots attention to safety, precise timing, and a tremendous amount of skill on the part of all three individuals to make the only ground-to-air transfer in the airshow industry possible.