Zenith Open House Mexico 2014 Part 1

Builders,

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Below are a few more photos from the Zenith Open house that followed Corvair College#30. Again, mostly people photos, but builders are the major part of what makes such events memorable. As you look, note that there is no ‘Corvair Type'; it is a diverse cast of characters with room for many new types. The common bond is espousing the traditional homebuilding values of Learn Build and Fly.

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Above, three of the birds that flew in on Corvair power: L-R, The Hoyt’s 2700cc 601XL-B w/650 canopy from MN.,(read more about it at this link: Patrick Hoyt, new Zenith 601XL, now flying, N-63PZ), Ron Lendon’s 2850cc 601XL-B imported from Detroit, and Lynn Dingfelder’s 2700cc 601XL-B from Corry PA. This is also a good view of how peaceful and well kept the Mexico MO airport is.

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If you are building a plane and looking forward to flying it places to enjoy it with other builders, catch this idea: Mexico MO is about 1% as stressful as flying into Oshkosh. Personally, I would look forward to flying to CC#34 and next year’s open house, but I can’t say that flying into Oshkosh is something that a personally look forward to doing. The quieter the airport, the better I like flying there.

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I keep a comprehensive introduction to the Zenith 601/650 combination at this link: Zenith 601/650 – Corvair reference page November 2013, please feel free to share it with other builders interested in the combination.

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Above, Pat and Mary Hoyt keep an eye on ScoobE. He has seen them at enough events that he can recognize them in a crowd. In the background, Corvair Zenith builder Ken Smith relaxes on the Zenith golf cart.

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A closer look at Ron Lendon’s 601. Note that his plane has a one of a kind, hand formed sheet metal nose bowl patterned after our #4102 fiberglass nose bowl. Ron is a metal smith, and wanted to give it a try. The plane is plans built, not a kit.

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Phyllis McDaniel stands beside her 650. This was the very first amateur built 650 to be registered as a flying plane with the FAA. She and her husband Shane also have a Corvair powered 601XL. You can see it with many other Corvair-Zeniths at this link: 16 Flying Corvair powered Zenith 601/ 650s

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Edi Bickford is a walking, flying breath of fresh air and a relentlessly positive person. Even at a College, in a hangar full of interesting characters, she is a stand out.

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At a big show like Oshkosh, you meet several hundred people in a day, it is just an endless stream. Many are memorable in a good way, but I would be less than truthful if I didn’t also say that there are a number of negative people that also work to make themselves memorable, just not in a good way. After 25 years of airshows, I am a little tired, not of questions, but negative people and those who want to tell you all about things they know nothing about.

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But I have a small trick that I quietly use in the presence of such people to remind me that everything considered, the good people I have met vastly outweigh the bad, and if I had chosen some other path in life, I would know a tiny fraction of the good people I have met through doing our work in the public arena. My trick is simple, when I am having to tolerate some ‘special’ person for a few minutes at an airshow, I just look over to the corner of our white display box, and there is Edi’s nametag from some long past event she attended. It has been there for a long time. It is a reminder that negative people may pass through for a minute, but good people stay around to enrich the world of Corvairs and all the good times ahead. Look at the photo and see that Edi’s current nametag is right by her old one.

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If you are reading this and have never met me in person, it may be hard for me to accurately convey what I am moved by in the human condition and the variety of experiences life offers. If I had to pick one story about humans I wrote to try to express this, it would be this one: A thought on Easter….. It isn’t a particularly about the holy day, it is a reflection on what people are thankful for in life. The builders comments at the bottom are a good indication of the quality of humans which the Corvair movement attracts.-ww.

The “Outlaw” Kitfox/Corvair project

Builders,

If you have ever thought of putting a Corvair on a Kitfox, here is a story to follow. Below are some pictures of a Corvair being sized up for a Tri-gear Kitfox model seven. We took these at Corvair College #30 two weeks ago.

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The game plan here is to make a set of installation parts for Kitfox models 5 through 7. (They are the same ahead of the firewall.) It needs a unique motor mount, it looks like it will work with our standard #3601-S intake, our #3901C stainless exhaust and we are going to base the cowling on one of our #4102 Nose Bowls.

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A Corvair builder in Texas already flew a 2,700cc Corvair on a Model 5, but it was a non-standard, hand built installation that did not have an aircraft carb. It worked, but not nearly up to the potential of the combination. I have another Texas builder, John Pitkin who is getting closer, but there are also one-off elements of his installation, and he is not in a hurry to get done. This time we have an eager builder who already has a completely standard 3,000cc Corvair done and test run at Corvair College #29. He brought the fuselage to CC#30 so I could get all the data I need to make the mount in Florida. This feels like the right plan coming together to see the plane done perhaps as soon as Oshkosh 2015.

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Now we get to the “outlaw” part of this. I have long talked to John McBean, the owner of Kitfox about doing this. Some aircraft company owners like the Monnetts have politely asked that we don’t overtly promote Corvairs on their designs, and I respect that (The have now reversed their position on this) , others Like Sebastien Heintz said “Buy a kit and have at it.” McBean has been a third path, where he has expressed a desire to make some of the parts and have say over details. I wrote about different company perspectives in this story:  Selecting an engine for your experimental aircraft , but Mcbean’s approach doesn’t sound promising to me, mostly because he has never seen a running Corvair and glossed over how unique the exhaust systems are and that they use bed mounts.

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At sun n Fun this year, we reached something of an impasse when he told me that he really wanted every Corvair installation to use one of his Lycoming cowls, a design 7″ too wide for a Corvair, simply because he wanted “his design” to have a “Certain Look.” At that point I decided that he is a good guy, but we have different views on things like who gets to choose how a plane looks (I say the builder does). The best solution is to develop the installation without any input from the Kitfox people. It is my personal belief that if a person buys a plane, it is their personal property, and they have the right to do with it what they want. Doing the firewall forward without the approval or input of the airframe kit maker is what I call an “Outlaw” installation. If you would like a look at how our nose bowls looks on different planes look at this link: Catching Up On Nosebowls ( p/n #4102 ) and at this one: STOL and utility planes for Corvair power.

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If the factory says people shouldn’t use a Corvair on a model they sell, let them make a convincing technical argument why. If it is right, builders will not use Corvairs. Simply telling people to obey works with most people, but a large chunk of traditional homebuilders only follow good reasoning, not commands. Saying “I want your plane to have a certain look” isn’t a technical argument, it is an opinion about another man’s property. Saying “I make money if you buy a Rotax 912, so it is the right engine for your plane” is not a technical argument, it is just an opinion about how you should spend the money in your bank account. It works with some people, just not many of the ones I know and spend time with. When I want Corvair builder to do things like use forged pistons, I make a technical argument why they are needed and make sense. It is a different approach that requires treating builders as intelligent adults.

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Many people are first concerned with what everyone else is doing before making a decision. They believe that finding out what most people are doing is the answer to doing it the ‘right’ way. Actually it is, if you are best described as an ‘average’ or ‘typical’ person. If there was one right way to build a plane, and it was based on what the ‘average’ person was doing, we would all be forced to read Mac McClellan’s editorials, then drive our imported mini van to the barber to get a John Edwards haircut while we read Flying magazine and the Sporties catalog. Then to the airport to use our swipe card at the chain link fence, go out to our Rotax 912 powered tri-geared plane with a glass cockpit, call ATC for permission to fly to the ‘practice area’, spend .8 hours there practicing something from a Rod Marchado video tape while never looking out the windows, Get permission to return to the airport, fly a pattern big enough for a 747-400 (because you were told to) land, put the plane away, and drive home wondering why some people talk about flying as ‘freedom’.

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Conversely, it isn’t my goal in life to be like anyone else. My goal is to follow my own path, as determined by myself, using my rational brain that I was provided with, guided by things that I care about. In 51 years on this planet, I have only been brought closer to that path by people who loved me, and a salesman telling me I have to buy a Rotax 912 is not in the group of people who love me, and for the most part, neither are the people who tell you what you have to do without offering a rational argument. They are just trying to have you obey to make something work better for them, like guy in a tower trying to have you fly a 3 mile final. Traditional homebuilding is the exercise of becoming educated so you can use your rational mind to make choices that are right for you. I am not sorry is that is inconvenient for people who would prefer is everyone was ‘average’. If you have never read it, make a point this week to drive to your local library and spend the one hour it takes to read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and understand it is an allegory about how the ‘flock’ attempts to peck any individual to death for not conforming and serving the ‘average’ need, but some individuals were not born to blindly serve the flock od society. Bach wrote it 40 years ago, but it is more important today than it was then.

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Above, our mystery man builder, known by alias “318 Detroit” with his identity protected at CC#30. (Isn’t this what outlaws do?) Get a look at how much bigger the fuselage on this model 7 is in relation to the engine than in the bottom picture of a model 4 with a Corvair.

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A very interesting side angle: Before the McBeans owned kitfox, the company built a large number of model 5 kits. If anyone is looking for a very inexpensive STOL plane option, you can run an ad on Barnstormers.com saying “Looking for unfinished model 5 kit.” We have ad 3 people do this, and on average they paid $9,000 for a complete kit that originally sold for more than $22,000. Technically these are not ‘factory supported’ in the same way as people who buy kits direct from the McBean’s, but they do have excellent manuals and they is a lot of on line know how from people who built them successfully.

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The “outlaw” kit above is a second hand buy from Barnstormers. It’s original buyer bought nearly every option available, paying $30,000. He took it home but did virtually no work to it. (I have pointed out many times that our consumer culture indoctrinated people to be good at buying things, but poor at working on them.) Our mystery builder paid only $12,000, because it is a supply and demand issue, and deals like this will always be available as long as homebuilt completion rates are low. At CC#30 I sat down with Mr. “318 Detroit” and he showed me on paper that he is going to have a first class model 7, with a complete high end 3,000cc/12oHP Corvair, all of the items ahead of the firewall like the cowl and prop, and a basic instrument panel and a flight line radio for less money than the original owner paid for the kit.

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This option is not for everyone, and I know from 25 years of working with experimental builders that there are many times more people who will drive to Oshkosh in a $500,000 Prevost motorhome, buy a brand new kit from the McBean’s, order a $40,000 fuel injected Rotax 912 engine and installation kit, and have someone build them a glass cockpit. If they get it done, they will have more than $100K in the plane. Are they taking the right path? Yes, for them. For a more traditional homebuilding oriented person with different goals, like our “outlaw” builder, the option is open to have a very similar performing plane, but a very different experience in homebuilding, for roughly 30% of the cost. Each of these two paths are the right one for the respective builders, and figuring that out for yourself is what making a good personal choice in homebuilding is all about.  Before too long another builder will come along, buy a model 5 kit off barnstormers for $7,500, buy some parts from us, put together a 2,700cc / 100HP engine with a Stromberg carb and a Weseman 5th  bearing, add some steam gauges and a hand held radio and have $16,000 in the plane, and he will probably wonder why our mystery builder chose to budget so much money.

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Above, a group photo, the freshly run 3,000 cc Corvair engine destined for the “outlaw” Kitfox is on the test stand as a centerpiece. This photo is from Corvair College #29. Can you guess which one of the 31 people in the photo is our mystery builder? Let me make it a little easier; From the left, it isn’t Grace nor ScoobE, The Son and Father Jameson team have their own 2700 Pietenpol engine, Vern works on our team, Bob Lester in the brown hat has a flying 2700 Pietenpol,…..

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At left with me above is Kitfox CEO and owner John McBean. He stopped by the booth at Oshkosh 2013. He is a good guy, and I am not building an “Outlaw” installation to antagonize him, I just choose the term to differentiate the result from the possible co-operative effort we had previously spoken of. He has owned Kitfox for about 10 years, and put a lot of work into restoring the companies reputation, his family is known for very good customer service. I have done more than 50 different motor mount designs for Corvair installations, and more than a dozen very detailed firewall forward designs for Corvair powered planes. I will capitalize on this when working on the design of the model 5-7 installation this winter.

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Above, A kitfox model four in my shop getting a motor mount. The earlier owners of Kitfox made more than 1,000 model 4’s. They are smaller and lighter than a 5 through 7 models, really too light for a Corvair, but the owner of this plane is a friend who weighs about 160 pounds, so it still has a high useful load. We used a #2601R reverse Gold oil filter housing to get the engine right up to the firewall for the weight and balance to be right. the model 5 through & will have the harmonic balancer about 10″ from the firewall. The relationship between the model 4 and the 5-7 is very much like the difference between a Zenith 701 and a 750. they look alike, but the later planes are substantially bigger. This model 4 has it’s own 3,000cc Corvair, already built and run at a College. When completed, this large engine/small plane/light pilot combination will be a short field rocket. Read the whole story at this link: Kitfox Model IV with Corvair mount. -ww.

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The cost of tolerating fools

Builders:

My Father related this story yesterday:

It is the spring of 1945, and the freshmen midshipmen, Dad included, are at the Naval Academy 500 yard rifle range across the Severn river. It is the introduction to weapons for many men. The instructors are all USMC Gunnery Sergeants, veterans of savage pacific battles. Each of them has seen many men, friend and enemy alike, die of wounds inflicted by rifle bullets.

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They reiterate many times that inviolable rule #1 of firearms is to never point one at anything which is not to be destroyed. One must be absolutely conscious of the muzzle direction 100% of the time, there are no excuses, there is no talk of unloaded, or safeties, it is never done. Period.

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Within the first hour, a midshipman approaches a Sargent to ask a question, the muzzle of his M-1 carelessly pointed at the Marine’s chest. The Sargent delivers a lightning quick punch to the face, the midshipman is an unconscious pile on the ground with a very bloody nose. The Marine picks up the rifle and continues the lesson, pausing only briefly to say that he didn’t survive Guadalcanal only to killed by moron in Maryland.

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It is very harsh, but instinctively the others do not rush assist the crumpled figure. They are all starting down a path of a very dangerous career, and if today’s lesson has exposed a dangerous fool who couldn’t follow a simple instruction in a serious setting, maybe they were better off never having to later trust that man as wingman or a shipmate. They were starting a life that didn’t afford second chances nor much forgiveness, and it might cost you dearly to cling to things from less serious settings. The lesson was harsh, but it served my Father for 33 years of active duty and it is with him 69 years later.

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Here is your aviation connection: In the last 50 years, life in America has gotten very forgiving, we have had a giant national shift away from personal accountability.

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I am not just speaking about teenagers here. It is pervasive; Airbags in cars allow people to drive like idiots; lawyers show people how to win the lottery for stupid things they do; one can shoot public officials and claim to have eaten too many Twinkies; advances in medical science often allow very expensive life extensions for people who made 5 decades of poor choices; we no longer think it is abnormal that corporate CEO’s get giant bonuses after taking bailouts; celebrities can say any racist thing they like if they later go to a posh ‘rehab’ for 20 days; The government gave Wen Ho Lee $1.6 million instead of executing him as it did the Rosenburgs. The pilots of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 were released without even being drug tested….. the list is endless.

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The general public goes along because they are afraid of the safety net not being there for them. We have been transformed to a society where everything is someone else’s fault, people forgetting that in a world where the individual is never responsible, neither can he ever make a legitimate claim of personal achievement.

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 In this setting, it is very good to understand that we still have a few places where personal responsibility reigns supreme, and building an flying planes is perhaps the single best example left. No matter what anyone tells you, Physics, Chemistry and Gravity will always remain just as unforgiving as 1945 USMC Gunnery Sergeants. People who wish to just ‘drift’ into experimental aviation may find this disturbing, but I am actually attracted to the unforgiving nature of flying; the rules are not arbitrary, they are not subject to popularity contests and they don’t change. In a world that is ever more fake, manipulated and plastic, flying remains something very real, and I like it that way.

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If you are new to flying, do not let any of this bother you. Please read this story, it may be the most influential piece of data a new guy can read this year: Concerned about your potential? . All new people should understand that first and foremost, I am an instructor, and my goal is to share what I have painstakingly learned, not just about Corvairs, but building and flying planes as well. If you are new you have plenty of time to learn this, and a Corvair College is an excellent place to start. If you attend just one, you will then have a good yardstick to measure other settings by.

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If you are new to homebuilding, I can not over emphasize the importance of investing your time with good people. You need to spend time in a setting where knowledgeable professionals are, who are in a community of builders who are focused on doing everything that has long been proven to work, where skilled people are committed to sharing this knowledge with new aviators. This goes all the way from who you speak with at your airport, what books you read, which websites you follow, and especially where you spend your money and find your training. Fools and morons tend to collect at places that tolerate stupidity. You can rest assured that I have not spent the last 25 years developing the community of Corvair builders to allow such people space in our Arena.

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The rest of society long ago set out on the fools errand to make the world a “safe” place. It starts with making things ‘Child Proof’ , then fool proof, and later it moves to treating all adults as children or fools, in a vain attempt to keep people from hurting themselves, because this can never be done, the final result is always not allowing people to engage in these activities, because they can not be made safe for fools and idiots without judgment.

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Fortunately, aviation resists this pretty well.  There will always be some jackass trying to show people how little you need to learn to go flying. That a GPS means you don’t have to know how to read a map and a Bing carb is for people who don’t want to spend a hour to learn how mixture controls work, but these are not the values nor ethics of the Corvair movement. Here we are looking for people who want to learn as much as possible, not as little as they can get by with.  If that sounds like your goals, I say “Welcome aboard.” -ww.

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img003Above, Dad, the Seabee base XO at Davisville RI in 1967, with a Garand. He is wearing a shooting jacket, but the uniform and the shoes suggest he came straight from the office. He held Expert ratings with both rifle and pistol. Dad has always been good at anything that required hand eye coordination.

Selecting an engine for your experimental aircraft

Builders,

The designers of experimental aircraft have an incredibly wide difference of opinion on the rights of builders to choose their own engine once they buy the plane. I know this personally, I have been in the alternative engine business for the last 25 years, and the designers names I use below are people I have met in person, who directly said these positions to my face.

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Moreover, I have done a lot of work over the years on advisory boards and sat through a lot of closed door meetings. I have directly heard many things that were later diluted by PR people until they were non-offensive. I have heard countless well intentioned, but under informed builders relate positions that their favorite designers supposedly held, positions which I know from personal contact, not to represent the designers actual beliefs. I have tried to correct misconceptions, but it is a usually a waste of time to try to expand the understanding of people who are absolutely sure they already know everything.

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Examples; Burt Rutan does not like builders using auto engines on his designs, and actively didn’t want anyone doing so to be able to use his name for the plane. On the other end of the spectrum, Randy Schlitter, the founder of Ran’s aircraft told me “They buy it, it belongs to them, they can put a car engine on it if they want, or make a yard decoration if they want, to argue otherwise is to be against private property.”

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Between these extremes are all many other companies. Zenith aircraft has been very successful by stating that builders have the right to use any engine they want, just strongly suggesting that the engine be in below a specified all up weight. This is a position very close to Randy Schlitter’s. Richard VanGrunsven, founder of the RV series of aircraft is much closer to Rutan’s position. He was vocally against any engine other than Lycomings. (until he designed the Roxax powered RV-12, which he is vocally against anyone using any other powerplant on.)

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VanGrunsven is the largest Lycoming dealer in the country, but I think his adamant insistence on their use is driven by an combination of his belief they are good engines and his attitude that he should be able to say how people use “his” planes, even though these people own them as their private property and are consider the plane’s manufacturer by the FAA. There are many things I admire about the man, but this kind of heavy handed control of others lives while working to be perceived as a ‘nice guy’, isn’t one of them. I actually preferred Rutan’s direct and blunt, ‘do as I say because I am smarter than you and I don’t care if you like me’ approach. I prefer unapologetic dictators over those that seek to be perceived as benevolent.

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Between these positions are many companies that like to promote the use of their “Approved” engines for the sole purpose of making money. Most people have no idea that when a builder buys a kit, and later buys a Rotax (or many other imports), the person who sold the kit makes a several thousand dollar kick-back off the engine company. Walk into many kit company’s booths at Oshkosh and tell them you are planning on using a Corvair, and the most common line is “I have met WW and he knows engines, but …(Insert: “Corvairs weigh 350 pounds, they don’t really work. they don’t use 72″ props, they..”) so just do the smart thing and get a Rotax, here I will call lockwood on your behalf”. Look at the math on this; The airframe guy invests 10 minutes having this conversation with a builder six times, one hour total, and then makes a $2,500 kick-back. Yes, they do this not out of the goodness of their hearts, it is for the 2,500 dollar per hour pay-off.  The fact that the kit buyer does not understand the system is what makes it deceitful, and he is unaware of the kit sellers motivation. This system in one of the largest single reasons why conversion engines are not more popular.

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If you have ever wondered why we have so many Corvair powered Zenith’s flying, it is not just that it is technically a very good match and that we have done our homework starting with buying a kit for ourselves and building and flying it personally, but the attitude of Zenith is a very big factor. Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith, has always believed that the builder, as an individual and owner of the kit, has the right to select his own engine. I find it humorously ironic that a guy born in France and raised in Canada turns out to be a much stronger champion of the personal freedom individuals making an educated decision for themselves than many kit company owners who would rather make a buck off builders obediently doing as told while these men try to polish a public image of respecting the freedom and individuality of builders.

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Photos from Zenith Aircraft Company's 23rd annual Open Hangar Day & Fly-In at the kit factory in Mexico, Missouri. September 19 & 20, 2014

 Above, the Engine Selection forum from the 2014 Zenith Factory Open House. From the left, the panelists represent, Rob from Rotax, Robert helms from UL power, Corvairs (myself), Pete Krotie from Jabbaru usa, Kim Winner from Continental, and Jann Eggenfelner from Viking. Sebastien Heintz is the moderator, standing by the wing.

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In keeping with the Zenith Aircraft perspective, the forum allows builders to directly ask questions to be addressed by the panelists who all represent proven power plant options on Zenith airframes. This approach speaks volumes about how the company views it’s builders; they are seen as adults, capable of making informed choices for themselves. This is very different from companies which dictate to their builders what they will do.

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Zenith is an actual dealer for many of the brands of engines that work on their aircraft. They make mounts and cowls for some of these. But this is not a consideration, the goal is to match each builder to the right engine. Each builder is provided with opportunity to get to know many engine providers and make the selection that best matches their goals, budget, time line and philosophy.

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I have heard every possible argument for the dictatorial approach, but in the end, traditional homebuilding and real flying, at their very core, are all about learning building and flying, and these are things that are best done as an alert individual, not someone blindly following orders. -ww.

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Corvair College #30 Good Times

Builders,

 Below are several photos of Corvair College#30 at the Zenith factory. We selected them because they offer a glimpse of what makes being a Corvair builder a different path. If you have not been to a College, look at them and read the captions, and picture yourself at the same setting.

In my first 10 years in homebuilding I learned a lot and accomplished much, but always felt an ‘outsider’ to the ever more consumer/conspicuous consumption era that was covered in magazines in the 1990s. I longingly looked at 1960s Sport Aviation and felt that I had missed the boat on the golden ago of homebuilding, where creativity, camaraderie  and craftsmanship were far more important than the thickness of a man’s wallet. I had a personal ‘moment of awareness’ that I had personally participated in degrading homebuilding in 1999. If you have 15 minutes to read something revealing, read this link: 2,500 words about levels of aircraft finsh……

Slowly I came to understand several truths: Magazine content and proportional coverage have little to do with what grass roots builders are focused on; There were many other builders interested in traditional homebuilding values such as learning and craftsmanship; and there were a number of builders who wanted to be part of a group that espoused, fun, skills and positive attitudes, but found this lacking at their local EAA chapter and the fly in events they attended. All of these factors steered us toward the cure, Corvair Colleges. College are focused on engines, but they are really about people. At these events, much is learned and progress is made, but it is all done in a setting of fellowship. There isn’t just ‘one kind of person who fits in. The Colleges are for anyone drawn top the original EAA motto of “Learn, Build and fly.” Corvairs are not for everyone, but they are an excellent match for people looking for more than the minimum experience in aviation.

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Above, my favorite photo and story from #30. On the left, Allan Macklem, right, Dick Navratil. These two guys worked on Dick’s engine and had a great time together. I have known Dick for 10 years (He has built 7 or 8 Pietenpols) and just assumed that the fun they were having was because they must have known each other since high school…..It took until the end of the second day for me to learn that before the first day of the college, they had never met each other. This is the kind of friendship and fun that naturally happens when two builders have the same values in a fun productive setting. The friendship these two guys struck up makes me feel the Colleges are worth all the effort put in.

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Required Gratuitous dog photo: Grace felt Scoob E was very excited about spending his puppyhood birthday in Mexico MO. again this year. A long time ago, Grace decided that she never wanted him to get older, so he is perpetually said to be “two years old.” (Funny, but no one ever questions this.)  Someone pointed out to Grace that 2 would make him 14 in dog years, so she now decided that he will now be turning 1 month old every September. If only someone had decided that I had to be 24 years old my whole life, I’d feel better right now.

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Packed in the trailer, ready for anytime we cross paths with Pietenpol builder Kevin Purtee, is the sock monkey “Hat of Power.”  Kevin, a 25 year attack Helicopter pilot, wears it with a ‘Hello Kitty’ tee shirt to demonstrate that he is a total bad-ass no mater how he is clothed. Above, fellow Piet builder, 6’5″ Mark Chouinard donned the hat right after his engine ran to test the hat’s ‘magic.’ Although Mark is a tough guy (his Facebook page has testimonials from numerous friends about his outstanding skills with belt-fed weapons in the Army), the Hat of power didn’t have the same effect on him as it does with Kevin. Mark remained his friendly self. With Kevin, it is like meeting captain ‘Quint’ from the film Jaws.

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At Colleges, a modest fee covers all the food and drinks for the entire event. at #30, we had a excellent local family cater the event. Having everyone share meals together is a big part of getting to know fellow builders. It is also much better use of time than having every one leave for food several times a day. People who stopped by often asked “Can a new builder really assemble and run an engine in 3 days?” The answer is Yes, as long as the days are 15 hours long and the time is used wisely. Having the meals brought in is a big help with this.

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Above, Jerry Parker of Texas. Jerry has a long list of achievements in aviation that are the result of hard sustained work and enthusiasm. I largely suspect that he could buy any engine on the market for his plane. Yet Jerry chooses to work with the Corvair, because the Corvair movement best fits his own person sense of Homebuilding. This is for everyone to evaluate for themselves, but it is worth considering the very high percentage of ‘old school’ EAA builders of great experience we have working with Corvairs. These people have seen a lot of facets of aviation, but find a unique setting with Corvair building.

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Left, Mark Petinunias of Falcon cylinder head fame, (aka”Petz” because most people aren’t good with Lithuanian pronunciations) has something funny to say. He has a wicked sense of humor for a guy who grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin.  He is an A&P who has worked his entire life in the mechanical world, but you can still see vestiges of his agrarian childhood, like his ability to compare caloric value of living things, both animal and vegetable, as if we might be plunged into a Donner Party situation at any time. He is part of a dwindling number of Americans who understand that food does not originate in supermarkets.

Standing behind me is Roy from Roy’s Garage. Both Mark and Roy were very helpful technical assistants at the college.

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Above, Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft speaks with Mike McGowan. Sebastien stopped by several times to check in with builders. It speaks volumes about his families’ long standing commitment to all homebuilding that he goes out of his way to welcome all builders to the College at Mexico MO, not just Zenith builders. While other aircraft presidents might be talked into this, with Sebastien there was never any consideration that it would be any other way. That is a perspective which is not common enough in the commercial side of our industry.

Mike is a 1960s graduate of America’s oldest licensed aviation university, Parks. (They hold the coveted FAA air certificate #1) He has extensive knowledge of piston engine airliner operation and practical aeronautical engineering. He always as an interesting take on any aviation subject, most often formed from direct personal experience.

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. Above Dick Navratil works on his engine while conversing with ‘old school’ EAA builder and pilot Bob Heiser from Texas, who is building a Zenith 750 Cruiser. Bob and his wife Carol have had a lifetime of adventures in light planes, but they are working to add a new chapter to their story. I take it as a great compliment that our work appeals to aviators like Bob and Carol.

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Above, Pietenpol builder Edi Bickford demonstrates that just like the rest of life, in aviation women are far more likely to actually read the directions before getting started.

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Grace pointed out that she too gave thanks before every wonderful meal The Steinmans and their crew served. I pointed out that Larry is praying that his engine will fire up and run well.  It worked, evidently the divine hand favors the builder who reads directions and does good work. Larry is building a 601XL back in Texas. He showed up early for the College and was great help to Grace and I with prep work.

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Above, about 560 hp worth of Corvair engines on one table. Most other engines are only available from the importer in one configuration. There are three different displacement engine in the photo, two different 5th bearing styles, two different head configurations, Several compression ratios, One engine that came from our workshop complete, one built with assistance and another that started as a short block. It is a large number of options that allow each engine to custom match the builders needs, skills, time and budget.

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The Chow line formed 3 times a day. There is a real ‘motorhead’ quality to dining among engine assemblies. Many people wish to be perceived as knowing something about engines. Corvair college is about actually learning and knowing these things, not to impress others, but to satisfy yourself that you are the master of the power plant and not the servant of the importers service department.

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Above, Dick Johnson and Mark Petz stand beside Dick’s 3,000cc Corvair destined for his Zenith 650. Sharp eyes will note that this engine is equipped with our new #2401L ultra light weight starter, coming in 3 pounds lighter than our traditional system.

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Mary and Pat Hoyt sent in this photo of their flight to the College from Minnesota in their Zenith 601XLB. They are first class people, and very well known and admired in the Corvair world. Their plane is not cosmetically perfect, nor is Pat going to challenge Bob Hoover for greatest stick and rudder man of all time. I think the root of the Hoyt’s popularity is attributable to their very friendly nature combined with the fact that he is an outstanding role model for most Corvair Builders, very effectively demonstration how to get the most out of one’s efforts in experimental aviation. Besides this, our dog, an impeccable judge of character, loves the Hoyts.

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Above the Bowen brothers of Idaho are all smiles after the test run of their 3,000cc Corvair, destined for their Dragonfly.

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The Hoyt’s 601 on the ramp. note how many people are attracted to the plane to get a good look and ask some questions.

Pat and Mary brought the plane to Oshkosh 2013 where they met a friend of ours from our home airport in Florida, Ron Thomas. Ron is an absolute salt of the earth guy, a Cajun who has earned a life long living as a rock drummer. Ron owns an Ercoupe and is a pilot, but has limited knowledge of homebuilt designs. He was on his first trip to Oshkosh, and above all else, he came away sure that Pat and Mary were the nicest people at the show.

A year later, Ron returned to Oshkosh and on his way in, saw a film crew standing in front of a polished low wing plane with a yellow nose, which he mistook as the Hoyts 601.  Excited at the possibility of seeing them again, Ron blurted out to the film crew “Where are Pat and Mary? and “Dude, these Corvair 601’s rock!” The camera crew was annoyed with him, and they guy they were interviewing got mad and walked off. Ron came by our booth and said he didn’t want to ruffle any feathers, but didn’t see why everyone was so upset…… I walked over to look at the plane and it was a Van’s RV-12 with a Rotax….I then quietly walked Ron down to the Van’s aircraft booth and pointed to a specific guy and asked Ron if it was the angry guy. Ron said it was and asked me why I thought the guy was so crabby. I said “For starters, his name is Richard VanGrunsven, and ……”

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Above, Lynn Dingfelder’s 2700cc 601XL. It has been flying for a number of years, and it has made a number of appearances at Colleges, the Zenith open house, Sun n Fun and other airshows. It is a great feeling to bring your creation, something that few people understood far less supported through the construction, to a location where kindred spirits applaud your efforts and want top shake your hand.-ww.

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FlyCorvair Upcoming Dates

Builders,

Here is a look forward over the next few weeks: Right now I am in NJ, taking a watch, caring for my Father. I will be here through Oct. 3rd. Dad is doing a lot better since the summer. Thank you to all the people who sent thoughts on this. I wrote something about Dad below.

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If anyone has a pressing tech question, please send it by email, and If you can, include a phone number that I may call you on in the evening. Often the explanations are easier on the phone. I don’t have access to all records here, so don’t assume I have your number.

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We are now just 5 weeks out from Corvair College #31. I have spoken with Ken Pavlou about the date we are going to cut off the sign up and the upper limit of builders we can have. I suspect that we are going to hit the max number before the 30 day out mark. If you are planning on attending, but have not actually signed up, please do so now. Corvair College #31 will be in Barnwell South Carolina, November 7th -9th. Click on:  https://corvaircollege.wufoo.com/forms/corvair-college-31-registration/

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Grace is still in Florida and is mailing out orders. Upon my return, she is taking a brief break to be with family. If you have an order in mind, Grace can likely cover this before my return.

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We have nose bowls packaged and ready to go now, on the shelf, for the first time in a year, there is no wait on an order. We are also going to do a large batch of Pietenpol,  Zenith 601/650, and 750 mounts before CC#31. If you would like to pick one up at the event and save the shipping, please let us know soon. -ww.

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Through a titanic effort of logistics, my brother and his eldest son were able to take my Mother and Father to Dad’s 65th Naval Academy Reunion in Annapolis last week. This lifted my Fathers spirits beyond measure.  For the 60th reunion of the Class of 1949 there were more than 500 of the original class of 1,200 on hand. My brother reported that there were only 46 classmates this year. The number drew to mind MacArthur’s words on ‘old soldiers.’

The Class of ’49 started at Annapolis before WWII ended.  In a significant shift, the entrance exams were opened to Enlisted men from the fleet, and 92% of the starting class were prior Enlisted men, my Father among them.  They were often older than the 1st classmen, and many of them had seen the war first hand. When an upperclassman harassed one of these men, the man simply pointed out that on D-day the upperclassman had been at the academy, while he had landed on Omaha Beach. He concluded with the somber statement: “I have killed better men than you.”

For all these decades, my Father has been very proud to stand in the ranks of such men. When JFK spoke of ” A new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war” These were the kind of people he was speaking of.  Yesterday, I sat beside my father as he watched a few minutes of the evening news. I thought of how difficult it must be for men of his generation and calling, who literally offered their lives to defend western civilization from genuine evil, to see how little we have done with this gift that was bequeathed to us at a staggering cost.

As I write this, my Father sits in the next room, carefully writing a letter about a man he knew well, another ’49er. With dulled eyesight and a slightly shaky hand, Dad writes to tell the man’s eldest son of the great fortune of having known his father, a man of great courage and character. There are a few dozen letters left to eventually be written to sons, but when the duty is done and the chapter is closed, I suspect that the custom will also fade away. We will not have men quite like these again.

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By far, the greatest joy of my Father’s life has been being married to my Mother for 64 years. The above photo was taken circa 1949 at Annapolis. They met at the New Jersey Shore just after World War II. Throughout my entire adult life, whenever I encounter anyone in difficult straights or a terrible position, my first thought is always “Without the luck of being born to my parents, that could be me.” It is not possible to overstate the positive role my parents have played in any qualities of character I may have.

 

Corvair College #30 Running Engines

Builders,

Here is a look at many of the 10 new engines that came to life at CC#30.  This is many more than CC#26 last year, our first College at the Zenith factory. Second events always build momentum like this, as builders have time to prep, and many people coming to their second college have a very solid plan in place for round two. Our Next College #31, will be the 5th at Barnwell SC, and we expect to run as many as 25 engines there. We have already made plans to hold CC#34 at the Zenith factory in September 2015. Sounds far off, but it just 51 weeks away.

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Nothing gets engine building in high gear like having a builder fly in right in the middle of the College. Lynn Dingfelder arrives at the College, having flown in 700 miles from Pennsylvania. If a Rotax owner flies in to an event where other Rotax owners are present, you don’t see the same reaction as above, because all the people have in common is owning the same imported product. Not much of a bond. Conversely, people who build Corvairs have not just a common set of skills, they also posses a taste for self-reliance and challenge that set them in a small and different club of individuals. There is room for everyone in experimental aviation, you need only seek the right place for you. If you look at the pictures below and feel a strong urge to build your own engine, then you are probably a Corvair guy at heart, and nothing you could buy will feel as right as the moment when your own engine comes to life.

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Above I speak with Jerry Parker of TX as the 2700/Weseman bearing engine destined for his Pietenpol does a break in run on the stand.

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The Bowen brothers on the right, watch the break in run of the 3,000 cc/ Weseman bearing engine that will power their Dragonfly.

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On the right Gene Kujawa at the break in run of his 3,000 cc/ Weseman bearing engine that will power his Zenith. I am setting the timing in the photo.

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A few minutes later with Gene’s wife Janet, and Mark Petz from Falcon. Gene and Janet took a long time to get to this day, and it was a great moment. They were not in a race with anyone, and the moved at their own pace, having fun and mastering the skills they were picking up. They were no out to simply ‘get it done’ or check some box. They truly enjoyed the process. Mark offered the assistance of his shop and guidance for some of the assembly.

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Above, I am using a digital temp gun to check the exhaust stacks on Mark Chouinard’s 2,700cc/ Roy’s Garage bearing engine destined for his 85% complete Pietenpol. This engine was begun at CC#28 in TX earlier this year.

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Mark Chouinard savoring the prop blast of his handiwork. This has a lot more pride and meaning than buying an engine or doing the minimum amount to work to a flymart relic to get it going. This is a fully overhauled, zero-timed aircraft engine converted from a very well respected automobile engine. (yes, the cars leaked oil, but they did not break.) But the real product in the picture is the change in capability and perspective of the man that chooses to learn and build rather than to simply buy.

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Larry Magruder, 601XL builder from Texas, running his 2700cc /Weseman bearing engine.

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Above, Eric Muehlberg, 650 builder from Oklahoma, films his 2700 cc/ Weseman bearing engine coming to life.

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Above, a good shot of Eric Muehlberg and his engine. Each motor get a 25-30 break in run.

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Canadian Zenith 750 builder Frank Sills runs his 2,700cc /Weseman bearing engine. He began the engine at CC#27 at Barnwell last year.

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Zenith builder Dick Johnson stands beside me the moment before his 3,000 cc /Weseman bearing engine Came to life.

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Above, Zenith 750 builder Tim Gibbs with his 2,850cc / Roy bearing engine at power on the stand.

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Another photo of Dick Johnson and his 3,000cc engine.

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Would you like to see your photo here? Click on:  https://corvaircollege.wufoo.com/forms/corvair-college-31-registration/, it is filling up fast, and the photos here all belong to builders who previously decided that this was going to be the year in which they took decisive actorn to advance their own dreams in aviation. Remember the words of Getty Lee when he pointed out that people who decide not to choose a path are still making a choice, just not a productive one.

-ww.

 

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