Thought for the day: Leaving the hive behind

“In modern life, people are less and less in charge of important decisions that count.  On many fronts, society is trying to prevent you from hurting yourself. This is not done out of concern for the person, it is done to preserve their role in the greater system. The method they choose is most often taking away the ability for an individual to choose risk.

Flying, and homebuilding in particular, is the polar opposite of this. It takes a really negative view of individuals to buy into a system that tries to prevent people from having the means to hurt themselves. It is part of seeing people not as individuals, with their own goals, but as cogs in a grater machine with their value defined by how they serve the group.

…The queen and the hive dictate to the worker bee his limited task, and when he has fulfilled it, he is no longer of any common good, and he is expected to die quietly because the hive programmed him to do so…

In my book, humans are individuals, not insects. Any person who chooses do something simply because he wants to is affirming this. Any person who picks up a tool and sets out on a journey to create something of his choosing, a goal that does not serve the hive of society, can expect both the disdain of  the hive and the warm welcome of other individuals. -ww.”

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In the above photo from Corvair College #21 stand the four pilots who have their names engraved on the Cherry Grove Trophy. Left to right are Joe Horton, 2010, Dan Weseman, 2009, P.F. Beck, 2011, and Mark Langford, 2008.

 

Mooney sold to Chinese, Fake endorsements.

Builders

Although it happened several months ago, last week there is a lot of talk about Mooney being sold to Chinese  investors because of the time delay in magazine coverage. Beyond my usual outrage at a piece of American aviation history and jobs being sold to China for pennies on the dollar, I want to use this story to teach you about fake endorsements in our industry.

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Although Mooney has been poorly managed and in trouble for more than a decade, you have to keep in mind that they have built more than 10,000 airframes, and have at times employed more than 500 people. Few maintenance guys love them, but they are good performers. They hold a significant place in the history of American light aircraft, and it makes me livid that the ownership of this company, its designs, type certificates and corporate knowledge are now in the hands of others who, no matter what they say, will ship all of this and the jobs overseas.

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Weren’t planning on buying a Mooney anyway? Neither was I, but there is something very important I need to teach you here. Something I have learned after working in our industry for 25 years: If you go to the AOPA and Flying Magazine websites and read the stories about this, both have comment sections that have 100% positive comments on this sale and glowing comments about how this is good for aviation. I am going to tell you that the attitude  these comments represent is fake. All the negative comments have been edited out, and I am pretty sure that the positive ones are a combination of fakes and ones that have been groomed to suit the narrative that the Chinese owning Mooney is a good thing. There have also been a number of ‘journalists’ who have said positive things about the sale, including people employed by your EAA.

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In 1954, 60 years ago, any aviation journalist who would have written a glowing endorsement of Mainland Chinese investors buying an iconic US firm would have found himself permanently unemployed. Six decades later, the situation is entirely reversed, and you will not find a single major aviation organization nor prominent ‘journalist’ to speak out against this. Today they will not because the Chinese have giant bankrolls, and if you want a mainstream job, you don’t speak against them.  I am not upholding either extreme as ideal. I only want to point out the extremes served  the interests of powerful people, and they manipulated public opinion to make it seem as if their plan was synonymous with what is good for working Americans who want to build their own planes.

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Going back to the point that neither of us were buying a Mooney, understand this doesn’t just go on with the sale of aircraft companies. It goes on with most products in the aviation industry, particularly those backed by a lot of money, and the Chinese are wealthy from flooding us with consumer goods, manipulating currency, letting us be the world’s policeman, and then financing our debt. The own Continental, Superior, Cirrus, and they made a bid for Beechcraft. They are buying up the type certificates of many older designs. The own a controlling interest in many companies that you wouldn’t expect, like Searey. The list gets longer every month.

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I just read a 1992 Sport Aviation cover to cover last night. There was not a single ad for a certified plane in it, far less an article or an editorial about one. The magazine was 80% homebuilts, one classic restoration and one warbird. The Poberezny’s still ran the EAA and Jack Cox was the editor, and neither of them were from the ranks of flyers associated with the financing, production or promotion of certified planes.

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In the 22 years since 1992, there has been a giant influx of people from the certified production of planes into the control and management of the EAA. The president is the former CEO of Cessna and the editor of the magazine knows little about homebuilts and was the editor of flying for 37 years. Some of these people long ago got into bed with the Chinese, and anyone else with an expensive imported plane that needed advertising space and favorable press reviews. They had no loyalty to American workers building planes in factories in this country, far less Americans building planes in their garages. These people need reminding occasionally that people who self identify as homebuilts fill out the ranks of volunteer jobs in all the chapters that make the EAA work in the field.

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You control something very important about this situation. In order to justify their actions, some people from the certified world will tell you several myths: 1) interest in homebuilts is declining, and the EAA needed to branch out to certified airplane buyers to stay strong and 2) everyone is OK with the Chinese buying up the US aviation assets for pennies. Selling these two myths keeps people who don’t respect homebuilts or their builders in power, and they are very serious about manipulating public opinion to do so. If you blindly accept the editorials they write, then you are letting them control you by providing an image of aviation that suits their agenda, not yours.

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Links:

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Cessna’s Chinese adventure a failure.

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Communist Chinese government at Oshkosh

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Chinese Crankshafts for Corvairs, update 2/17/13.

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William Edward Wynne Sr. – Father’s Day Notes

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The photo above is taken from our story: Carl Sagan, Corvair Owner, Practical Philosopher, Individual.

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Youngest Builder with a running Corvair.

Builders:

At Corvair College #29, the high point of the event was the perfect engine test run of the 100 HP Corvair by 16 year old Pietenpol builder Joseph Jameson. We ran a number of engines for the first time at the College, but everyone present took notice of Joseph’s achievement.

Many Pietenpol builders saw the October ’13  newsletter, which carried a nice story about Dan Helsper taking Joseph aloft for his first flight in a Pietenpol. Doc and Dee Mosher, Dan and most everyone who has met Joseph comments that he is obviously a bright and thoughtful young man, blessed with a supportive family. A few minutes in his company is enough to make anyone say something positive about the future of aviation.

Joseph has a lot of his airframe built, and is closing in on his PP check ride, but opted to dig into his Corvair engine when Kevin Purtee and Shelley Tumino hosted Corvair College#28 in Texas. You can see Joseph and his father Kelley speaking with award winning Piet builder and flyer Hans Vandervort at the college in this link: Corvair College #28, San Marcos, Texas

Joseph got his Corvair underway at #28, but signed up for #29 in Florida to finish and test run it. The engine is a 100HP Corvair, with a Roy, 5th bearing and Falcon heads.  It is not a “spare no expense” engine, but it is an exceptionally high quality Corvair with electric start, dual ignition, stainless valves, HD oil cooler and filter and some weight reduction items like a flyweight welded deep sump pan. The engine is a bit lighter than a C-90 or an O-200.

When Joseph was done, we pre-oiled it and put it on our test stand. It started in less than 2 seconds of cranking. We put down a 30 minute run to break in the cam and lifters, followed by a second run. I have run several hundred Corvairs on the stand in the last decade, and Joseph’s engine ran as well as any of them. It was smooth, didn’t leak a drop of oil, and his adjustment of the hydraulic lifters was perfect. A visitor to the college asked what this young man’s ‘secret of success’ was. I said “He actually read the book and he follows the instructions.”

Hats off to Joseph for his achievement in learning and building, and special thanks to everyone in the Pietenpol community that played a positive role in assisting him. Joseph and his Dad are planning on attending Brodhead this year, if you have not met them, take a moment to do so, they are outstanding people. -ww

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Father/son team the Jamesons from TX, stand beside their newly run engine. The engine is destined for a Piet that is mostly done. Dad (Kelly) is clear that the plane and engine are really the handiwork of his son, Joseph. A very bright and skilled young man.

Thought for the day: Finishing planes

Builders:

I wrote the comments below in response to a guy saying that he was glad to see any homebuilt get done, and that even if the plane wasn’t very good and didn’t fly much it was still a victory to him. He made this comment about a plane that was for sale on Barnstormers with 2 hours on it. Read on, you will find out why I think differently

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To finish a plane, it is a requirement that a builder not listen to all the people who tell him he will fail or is doing it wrong. In a 6 year build, this might mean ignoring several hundred people, running from guys in your EAA chapter, your brother in law, people on line, the airport expert and a parade of others. Most of these people will simply be playing the role of ‘Eeyore’ the pessimistic donkey, (polite term for a negative Jackass) but understand that many others will be posing as ‘friendly advisors’, trying to ‘help.’ If you ignore every person you come in contact with, keep working, and the plane will get done.

Is this the definition of successful homebuilding? I say it isn’t. Completing the plane isn’t success, learning is. A guy who listens to no one learns nothing and often creates the poor flying hangar queen. His completed plane might be a rarity, but the mindset of not being willing to consider anything that might evolve one’s views is quite common today.

My definition of success is the guy who finishes the plane, ignores the 98% of the people who are negative, but learns from 4 or 5 trusted advisors who get him to consider things that make his plane far better than it would have been. This guy not only has a good flying plane, has learned a lot, he also has trusted friends and is in a position to share something. The actual rarity in society is not the bullheaded man who will not stop, it is the man wise enough to listen, examine evidence, and change his perspective if it improves what he is making.

The biggest difference between a poor plane for sale on barnstormers with 2 hours on it and a great one sitting at Brodhead with 500 hours on the tach is mostly in the mindset of the builder. Both planes are made of roughly the same quantity of wood, metal and fabric, and the likely took about the same effort to build. The difference is mostly in what the builder was willing to learn.

The barnstormer plane, and the dozens like it that were never completed are not a good use of materials nor human time. They are not art either. They are monuments to people who refuse to learn, something common enough in everyday life to need no commemoration.-ww.

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To read a story about a plane that changed the builders life and has flown more than 500 hours click on this link:

Randy Bush’s Pietenpol hits 500 hours.

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Above, Randy’s aircraft at Brodhead

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Letter of the day: Stockdale on Philosophy

Builders:

Ray Richards sent me the letter printed below in response to a story I wrote about James Stockdale, one of the greatest leaders aviation has ever known. The story focuses on Stockdale’s code of ethics, his will power, and his source of strength. I tie this to homebuilding with points like this:

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“In Stockdale’s test of wills, his enemy’s goal was to make him succumb to fear. If he did, they could determine his mindset and actions from there forward.  It is easy to say that 99.99% of us will not find ourselves in such circumstances. Literally true enough, but perhaps misleading. Stoic philosophy is all about being in command of yourself, and not letting anyone or any circumstance dictate your opinions, attitudes or actions. Stockdale’s enemy was obvious, his goals were clear.

Your life and the challenges you choose may not be as dramatically profound as Stockdale’s, but they are no less important. These things literally are the value of your life and your satisfaction with leading it. Choosing to learn, build and fly are not common goals. The vast majority of people are afraid of these things. If this fear stops them from acting on their ideas and dreams, then someone else is controlling them.

People are not born to be afraid, they are taught this. Stoic philosophy is a method of undoing this, recognizing your own value and sovereignty as an individual. Aviation is a singularly appropriate Arena to develop one’s personal codes.  It offers near limitless potential to those who take it seriously, it holds serious risks and penalties for those who do not.  At any level worth engaging, it is not a pastime, a game, nor a sport. It is a real endeavor worthy of your devotion.”

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Above, James Stockdale before his aircraft was shot down over North Vietnam. As Commander of the Air Wing he flew all of the aircraft types they operated. At the Gulf of Tonkin, he flew an F-8 Crusader; later he was shot down flying an A-4 Skyhawk. You can read the complete story at this link:

James Stockdale – Philosophy

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Letter from Ray Richards:

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“Very well written Sir. I thought that you may enjoy reading a response from someone who has found a considerable applicability in their personal life when related to several of the points you have written about.
My Daughter is finishing her Freshman “Doolie” year at the United States Air Force Academy. She has been laboring over the selection of her major, running through a number of Engineering options intended to help with her future aspiration of becoming a pilot. Last week, she made a decision that at first seemed quite a departure from her end goal. She decided to select Philosophy as a major. Her reasoning went back to High School when an exceptional Teacher spoke about Admiral Stockdale and his personal success with the effective use of Philosophical teachings to control his own actions through Stoicism and how it has continued to be a model for the development of future Officers. Looking back on those dinner time conversations when her eyes would light up explaining to me the writing’s of Epictetus, it all makes perfect sense that she follow this path of education. I believe that this may be the most valuable decision she will make while preparing to become an effective Air Force Officer, potential Pilot, and any other aspirations she may pursue in the future.
Thank you for the clean and understandable read. I’m sure my Daughter will enjoy it as well. Perhaps she and I will discuss it, not over the dinner table, but on Skype this evening. Regards, Ray Richards.”

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Read further comments on the philosophy of James Stockdale from fellow Corvair builders at this link:  Mail Sack – James Stockdale

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Thought for the day: Your brothers keeper?

“He has a very kind way about him. I am embarrassed to say this, but first I thought he was mentally handicapped, but after a minute I realized that he is just polite and a good listener, and has been freed of the illusion of self-importance that infects almost everyone you met this week.

I had thought “I can spend a few minutes to be kind to this person.” As I sat down on a milk crate, I realized that this is the exact same thought that this man has with every single person, every day. The distinction being, I thought I was doing some charity, and he is living as a genuine human being.”

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Read the rest of the story at this link;

A thought on Easter….

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It is my personal belief that lives of adults are physically, mentally and spiritually richer if they have a chance to do meaningful and productive work. I was born into a good family in the richest country the world has ever known. As an element of being grateful, I try to have every part we can made in this country, at shops that respect to human dignity of the workers and pay livable wages.

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If I was driven by greed, I could simply have most of our sub-components made in places like China, by workers without rights or freedom. When you buy a part from us for your plane, you can be assured that I put every effort into making sure that all hands that touched it before you were fairly compensated and worked in an environment that I would have a member of my own family work in.

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If the above two paragraphs sound ‘new age’ or ‘liberal’, let me assure you they are not. I am very well read on the subjects of US history and Ethics, and the ideas above are directly taken from President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1902 philosophy, “The Square Deal.”

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I do not expect advantaged Americans who compulsively buy imported products, often people who don’t have a single friend who works in a factory or a blue color job, to understand the above values.  They may never have spent a minute to consider that our country was not built by wealthy consumers employing workers in 3rd world countries, but it could end that way.

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“There must be ever present in our minds the fundamental truth that in a republic such as ours the only safety is to stand neither for nor against any man because he is rich or because he is poor, because he is engaged in one occupation or another, because he works with his brains or because he works with his hands. We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man. We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less. Finally, we must keep ever in mind that a republic such as ours can exist only by virtue of the orderly liberty which comes through the equal domination of the law over all men alike, and through its administration in such resolute and fearless fashion as shall teach all that no man is above it and no man below it.”

Theodore Roosevelt, July 7th, 1903.

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- The Poverty rate in Florida stands at 20%. This is higher than it was in 1964 when statesmen of both parties decided they would declare “War on poverty.” Argue the result if you wish, The original motivation to end things like 29% of senior citizens  living in poverty was more ethically defensible than doing nothing. Today, Americans essentially ‘vote’ that cheap consumer goods are more important that fellow Americans having jobs. I can’t fix that, but I am responsible for my own actions.

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- The median age of the very poor in Florida may be as low as 12 years old. You can’t wave a magic wand and make that go away, but if you want to attack it, you do something that provides a good job for that kid’s parents, preferably in manufacturing. You don’t need a PhD is sociology to understand that domestic violence and substance abuse go down when employment goes up. Employment is a moral issue. There is no discretionary consumer good I need enough for a 12-year-old American to go hungry so I can save a buck on it.

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- Florida has 15 times as many millionaires as it did in 1964. The top 1% of the wealthy in Florida may be 250 times richer than they were 50 years ago. The average state senator leaves public office with a net worth $880,000 higher than when he arrived, in spite of a $40K salary. The system we tolerate works for the top better than the bottom. We may have accidentally created a dependence on public support at the bottom, but the top manipulates the system and drains the trough at a far faster rate.

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Above, Rick Scott, Governor of Florida, speaks with two children in a Jacksonville pre-school. Mr. Scott was founder and CEO of a health care company that systematically defrauded the US Government (taxpayers) of nearly a billion dollars in Medicare payments. His settlement was the largest fraud case in US history, but included no personal fines or jail sentence.  It seems highly unlikely that the two children in the picture will commit crimes of that magnitude in their lifetimes.

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(In Florida, anyone who takes $101 worth of property from the home of another has committed Grand Theft, and is subject to imprisonment for up to 5 years. $101 goes into 1 billion dollars 9.9 million times.)

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On this holiest of days on the Christian calendar, there are still people who can blame hungry school children for our societies’ ills, while silmaltainiously absolving and admiring the highest levels of the criminally greedy. I am yet to understand how any element in the life of Jesus could be seen as an endorsement of unrestrained capitalism. My personal understanding of the life of Jesus is focused on forgiveness, kindness, and the understanding that I am my brother’s keeper.

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From Rick Scott’s Wikipedia page: “On March 19, 1997, investigators from the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services served search warrants at Columbia/HCA facilities  Four months later the board of directors pressured Scott to resign as Chairman and CEO. He was paid $9.88 million in a settlement. He also left owning 10 million shares of stock worth over $350 million.  In settlements reached in 2000 and 2002, Columbia/HCA pled guilty to 14 felonies and agreed to a $600+ million fine in the largest fraud settlement in U.S. history.”

Video of Grandson’s first flight, 3,000cc Cleanex:

Builders:

Dale Williams of SC sent in this link of his Grandson’s first flight:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ho2uh1cZwmY

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It is a particularly good video, not of the plane, but capturing the day. If you are working in your shop this weekend and wondering if finishing your plane will be a milestone event in your life, look no further than this film and picture having this kind of day with someone in your own family.  Catch the credits at the end to learn who covered the soundtrack.

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Dale sent these words with the link:

“One of the great joys I had recently was that of taking my seven year old grandson for his first ride in my Corvair powered Sonex. I’ve desired to do this for a number of years but waiting for him to be old enough, and me working to build and learn skills that I didn’t yet possess was all part of the process… Besides the satisfaction that comes to us personally from going where the timid fear to tread, there is the part of giving to others in the manner which you have demonstrated by your work, and also the giving to others by sharing what we have achieved, that brings us a greater fulfillment of purpose, – Dale, N 319WF”

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Above,The Cleanex of Dale Williams taxis out at Corvair College #27.

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 For more details on Dale’s plane, click on this link:

New 3,000 cc Cleanex, Dale Williams, SC

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