Two "Namu II's" are presently well along in Pete's workshop. Fuselages and tail sections are complete for both and work is beginning on the wings.Pete completed the airplane in 1975, hence the prototype's N-Number: N75PA, with the "PA" standing for Pete and Alice (his wife). It was the Model 4, in Pete's reckoning, and that's what the FAA records still show.
It was here that the name "Namu II" came into being. A friend, used to seeing only narrow "Fly Baby" fuselages in Pete's shop, was impressed by the width of the new bird — "a regular whale by comparison"! This comment started the wheels turning in several heads and finally Walt Disney's TV film about a whale trapped in a Washington cove — a whale named "Namu" — was recalled . .. thus, "Namu II".
First flight of Namu #1 happened on July 2nd,
1975. Pete wanted to bring it to Oshkosh that
year, and of course, the big show was less than a month
away. He needed to fly off the required 40 hours
before making the trip.
According to an article by Jack Cox in the October 1975
edition of SPORT AVIATION, Pete lined up 18 friends to
fly the plane constantly until it had passed the 40 hour
point. Pete then flew it to Oshkosh and back, with
no apparent problems.
Cox also had the chance to fly the airplane:
I had an opportunity to make a short flight in Namu II just before the Warbirds' flight period one day at Oshkosh and found the plane to fly very well — excellent ground handling and very docile inflight manners. Performance is quite good for the power — a converted Lycoming GPU Pete has been hoarding for years.
As the February 1972 article states, a second Namu was
built at the same time as N75PA. I was told that it was
painted like a Killer Whale, but I've never seen any
photos or other confirmation.
Similarly, I was told that only four sets of plans ever
existed. But several months back, I talked the the
only other known Namu owner. Her plane is
basically derelict; in storage, and its firewall forward
She doesn't believe the "four sets of plans" rumor.
"Far as I know, there were none, other than any final ones actually drawn up by Pete himself. The Namu I have was supposedly built using notes written or sketched on an envelope discarded in a Boeing wastebasket."
Her plane was built by Tom Godby and Dick Lowe, who,
she says, were NOT the ones who recovered the drawings
from the trash. She thinks there may have been as
many of ten Boeing employees or friends involved in the
construction of her airplane.
Amusing story: The FAA application for the plane originally listed it as a Godby-Lowe-Bowers Namu. It was changed to "Lowe-Godby-Bowers." Look at the original name and say it slowly...no doubt Pete would have agreed.
There's an old saying: "Success has many fathers, but
failure is an orphan." Namu didn't take off like the Fly
Baby. Pete didn't write about it, and, apparently,
didn't sell plans.
My guess was competition, both the lack of it, and too much
The Fly Baby itself was born in competition, the 1962 EAA design contest. This came with a ton of built-in publicity, and a large batch of eager prospective builders.
Ten years later? Well, not only was there NOT any design competition to build interest, Namu already had a lot of competitors out there. Plenty of two-seat homebuilt designs... the Emeraude, the Skyfly, the Stits Playmate, the Thorp T-18. Lotsa competition out there, and we should be frank about Namu's competitiveness: Its performance wasn't that great, and it wasn't that attractive of an airplane. Much of it was pleasing, but Pete's treatment of the engine and cowling wasn't as smooth and sleek as the drawing above. He used a Super Cub nose bowl and a flat-wrapped cowling. It's very...abrupt, and not too attractive.