Help Needed, Wikipedia error on Pietenpols

News note: I wrote the story below after midnight last night. I woke up to find this note in the comment section:

“Fixed it. If there is anything else you want to edit or you are not happy with the pictures let me know! First time I have ever edited wikipedia, it makes perfect sense why you didn’t understand it. I barely did! -Spencer “

It is from Spenser Rice, building from plans, a Corvair powered 601HD. He is our “JRB” (junior ranking builder). When I read the things he writes, look at his work and speak with him on the phone, it is very hard to remember that he is 15 years old. He is articulate and thoughtful as any 25 year old I know.  He lives in OR, but was recently visiting family in FL. We had a chance to spend the afternoon in my shop, the first time I have met him in person. Communications with him before gave me high expectations…..and in person he confirms them. When others say to me “This country doesn’t make the same kind of young men it used to” I might concede the point on average, but Spenser is no average young man. I am pretty sure he would compare very favorably with the young men from any time period in this country. -ww.

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Builders:

I was looking for a story detail on Pietenpols and, came across something that needs to be corrected. I read Wikipedia stories all the time, particularly biographies, and they are usually fairly good because they have a user edited content system that can be used to ‘shape things up.’  This needs to be applied to both the biography of B.H.Pietenpol and to the page on Aircampers. I am too much of a troglodyte around computers to figure out how to do this, so I am sending out a broad appeal for help on this. You don’t have to be a Piet guy, if your building a Corvair, this guy is your man also, and beyond that, if you are a working class homebuilder, this man should be your hero. If are yet to read why that is true, take 5 minutes of your day to read this:

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B.H. Pietenpol, Patron Saint of Homebuilding

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THE MAN HIMSELF: The plane he is leaning on is at Pioneer airport at Oshkosh today, in his original hangar, moved from Cherry Grove, MN.

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OK, get a look at this link and tell me what is wrong:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pietenpol_Air_Camper

That’s right, this plane below is not a Pietenpol:

“Pietenpol Air Camper”

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It is a Grega GN-1. Now first and foremost, I want to say that I have absolutely zero problems with guys who have GN1′s, I don’t care if we call them all Aircampers, I think it is dumb to devide the community of builders over the differences between the designs. This said, I don’t want the Wikipedia page on Bernard’s Plane to incorrectly identify this as a “Pietenpol.”  The GN-1 has its own page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grega_Aircamper. And John Grega should have one also.

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Also, they stuck this picture in, which I think is from the same GN-1 as a Pietenpol Aircamper instrument panel:

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“Instrument panel of a Pietenpol Air Camper”

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OK, besides the fact that it isn’t a Pietenpol, and it has more instruments in it than Lindbergh needed to fly the Atlantic, look close, It isn’t even a wood fuselage, it is steel tube. I am not sure what engine the owner has in it that has a 2100 rpm redline, but the basic idea here is all wrong just on the principle that this picture does not represent Bernard’s like long absolute allegiance to simplicity. This needs to be corrected.

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Second, I am going to get a little picky on BHP’s Wikipedia biography;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Pietenpol

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OK, get a look at the plane pictured below. Obviously it is in England. If you are in the UK and reading this, or are even one of the people who put this picture up, I am going to sound like an “ungrateful crass colonial” here. But that plane isn’t really a Pietenpol either.

Pietenpol.air.camper.g-ecvb.arp.jpg

“Pietenpol Air Camper”

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It is not legal to build an actual Pietenpol in the UK. If you wanted to build an exact replica of the plane that BHP is leaning on in the photo, you would not be allowed to fly it in the UK because  it has a Corvair on it and UK planes have different structure.  You have to build one of the modified designs that is approved by the UK government recognized entity LAA, and Francis Donaldson. Since a pure Plans built Pietenpol is not allowed there, I would rather have an actual US model representing the design of BHP. If the page was about LAA approved planes, great, but theoretically it is about BHP and his designs.

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Furthermore, Bernard was an American citizen. He was not a British subject. If I was writing a story about Tiger Moths, Spitfires, Hurricanes, or even a Nipsy Tipper, I would not choose one with an N-number to represent the design. It does not inform the reader of the origin or the perspectives of the designer. Either “the last original” or N-7533u would be much better, or any of the other planes that were built by his hands.

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To the person who corrects this, or leads the effort, I will buy a 3 year subscription to the Pietenpol Newsletter, I will buy you dinner when ever we cross paths, and I will hail you as a good guy in homebuilding.

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While it may seem like I am being trivial on this, there is a point. Presentation of aircraft, especially in museums and venues perceived to be educational, matter. I have very strong objections to our National air and Space Museum being called the “Udvar-Hazy Center”. Steven Udvar-Hazy’s only contribution to aviation is manipulating the leasing of commercial aircraft to make himself a billionaire. His $66 million contribution to the museum sounds big until you realize that it was only 1.5% of his estimated net worth.

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No National landmark in this country should be named for people who donated money.  It is as demeaning as naming the Lincoln Memorial the ‘Walmart memorial’. It is un-American to measure the value of a man by the thickness of his wallet. It is for precisely this reason that Americans triumphed in flight. Our system recognized and advanced the best, brightest and courageous. It placed no value on class, connection or wealth.

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If the Air and Space museum is to be named for the highest bidder, I can think of 100 names off the top of my head like, Sijan, Grissom, Loring, Scobee, Luke, Husband….American Aviators who gave 100% of everything they had or would ever have for this country, paying a price that makes any financial contribution meaningless.

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“If we die we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.” – Gus Grissom.

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“They gave their lives in service to their country in the ongoing exploration of humankind’s final frontier. Remember them not for how they died but for those ideals for which they lived.”

-statement left on the remains of Launch Pad 34.

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Francis Richard Dick Scobee Gravesite

Dick Scobee’s head stone at Arlington.

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Charles Joseph Loring, Jr

Charles Loring’s grave in his home town of Portland OR.

 Lance Sijan’s grave. For further reading: A Father’s Day Story – Lance Sijan

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About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

2 Responses to Help Needed, Wikipedia error on Pietenpols

  1. Spencer Rice says:

    Fixed it. If there is anything else you want to edit or you are not happy with the pictures let me know! First time I have ever edited wikipedia, it makes perfect sense why you didn’t understand it. I barely did!

    Spencer

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