John Glenn, Aviator from an era of heroic deeds, passes.

Builders,

For the next day or two, their will be brief stories in the news about the passing of John Glenn. To younger Americans, it will seem something of a mystery why this old man mattered. Tonight I actually feel sorry for these younger people, because they have spent all of their lives saturated in a consumer mass media that convinced them that celebrities and wealthy people are ‘heroes” to be admired.

.

mercury_test_pilots-1.jpg

Standing beside a Convair F106-B aircraft in a January 1961 photograph are the nation’s Project Mercury astronauts. Left to right, are M. Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Walter M. Schirra Jr., Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton.
Credits: NASA

.

Above, the ‘Mercury Seven’; Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper,Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter,  with an F-106. They were selected from hundreds of candidates. While the film “The Right Stuff” questioned if they were actually quintessential aviators, five decades showed that without question they were great Americans, men we can all be proud of. Such people still exist, but in a consumer driven society, attention and admiration are driven to ‘personalities’ which support marketing.

.

John Glenn, the last living Mercury Seven astronaut, was an actual hero from a time when Americans understood that no celebrity ‘talent’ nor accumulation of wealth was to be admired, the only thing that should qualify an American for the admiration of his fellow countrymen was a supreme act of courage or will, in the face of mortal danger. Such a deed could advance our national mission,  morals or ethics, or it could simply be a selfless act out of love for a fellow human, it was not for sale, no one could buy it, and there was no skill that could be falsely elevated to compare to it. By this measure, John Glenn’s life was Heroic.

.

If you want to understand the transition point in American culture from the admiration of actual heroes to admiring wealth, let me present a simple two minute film of a very famous, but little seen debate speech. In a primary election, A wealthy businessman Howard Metzenbaum, believed in the post Vietnam era he could score political points by deriding John Glenn’s military record and NASA service as “Never having held a real Job” The video below covers John Glenn responding:

.

.

On that day, The values of John Glenn, the admiration of “A dedication to duty that meant more than life itself”, prevailed. But in time, our society was lead away from admiring such beliefs. I feel sorry for any young person who has been told that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is worth admiring, or should even be mentioned in the same breath as John Glenn. This country has produced, and still produces humans well worth the admiration of all of their fellow countrymen, but evidently too many people believe that we can’t have such people in national leadership. It is my great hope that I will live to see this corrected. Even if it never is, I know what makes a person admirable and heroic, and the life of John Glenn will always meet that standard. -ww.

.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

.

I suggest Trump admirers read the books “Faith of my Fathers”(McCain), “When Hell was in Session” (Denton) “The Passing of the Night”(Risner) and  “In Love and War“(Stockdale) to understand the kind of Americans he has no respect for because they were POWs. He said it, it was never apologized for,  it in my book, that actually makes him pathetic.

I suggest HRC admirers read the 1997 NYT article below. It explains how the body of Larry Lawrence, a giant fundraiser for the Clintons, had to be exhumed from Arlington National Cemetery, because it was revealed that his entire war record and military service record was fabricated. Bill Clinton had gotten a special exemption to have him buried there, and he was warned in advance that Lawrence was probably lying, but to the Clintons, it wasn’t a reason not to pay back a donor. Glenn will likely be buried at Arlington; Risner and Denton are already there, along with the Challenger Astronauts. One day McCain will join his father and Grandfather there, and one day my own father will rest there, and I greatly prefer that none of the people there were lying campaign contributors of the Clintons.

.

.

 

Made in USA: .50BMG – ‘When you care enough to send the hairy beast.’

Builders;

Continuing in our ‘Made in America’ series, I present the Barrett single shot bolt action, chambered in .50 Browning Machine Gun (BMG), a classic cartridge that John Browning designed 97 years ago, which is still in current US military service today. Originally conceived of as an anti-tank round in 1919, it was the standard aircraft cartridge of the US in WWII. The rounds we fired in my back yard today were AP rounds loaded to 13,000 ft/lbs of energy. That is more than ten times what a 5.56 NATO packs. It was an interesting experience in ballistics and metallurgy.

.


.

Above the Barrett, with one round laying under it. It weighed about 25 pounds. 13K pounds of energy on a rifle this light would not be manageable without a muzzle brake (the device on the end of the barrel) which deflects gasses backwards to remove most of the felt recoil. It honestly wasn’t that bad, roughly like a 3-1/2″ 12 gauge magnum shell in an 870.

.


.

Above, Size comparison: The .50BMG is the second from the left; next is a .30-06, a 5.56 NATO, and a .22LR. The large item is a 37mm Vickers “pom-pom” round from WWI. It was personally brought back from the trenches of France by my grandfather, pictured here: A clarification and a century old story. If you look closely, it is engraved to say “Verdun 1918”.

.

.

Above a 6 second video of shooting a steel flywheel in front of an aluminum plate. As a pair, the weigh more than 100 pounds, but the round flips them over.  My neighbor Ryan at the trigger, Vern is speaking in the background.
.


.

Above, a steel flywheel from a GM-6.5L diesel. The first shot went right through a section 1.375″ thick. The second round is pictured, which went through the flywheel, then penetrated 1.5″ of 2024 aluminum, but retreated about an inch. This was the shot pictured in the video.  Picture a P-51 Mustang with six browning M-2’s firing a three second burst: that is 250 rounds just like the one above. If you know how aircraft are built, it is unimaginable how any opposing fighter could withstand that. Look closely and see the bullet is just slightly deformed.

.

At the start of WWII, most of the worlds fighter aircraft used .30 rifle ammunition, with a tiny fraction of this power, as standard armament. In the US, an outspoken visionary of airpower, Alexander P. de Seversky, stated that all US fighters should have 2,000HP and eight .50BMG guns. This was considered outrageous, but the P-47 was his brainchild, and he essentially understood the concept of a “fighter-bomber” long before others. Looking in person at what a few single rounds can do against metals gives great understanding of why light armored vehicles and locomotives stood little chance against strafing with .50BMG.

.


.

Above, a look at the 2.375″ thick plate. The fist round had no problem cutting straight through the aluminum, and the front 8″ of wood in the backstop. The second hole is 1.5″ deep, and this was after it had gone through the flywheel in front of it. It gives perspective on why six .50BMG guns was still considered plenty of firepower for F-86’s to shoot down 792 MiG-15s in Korea. I have personally worked on MiG-15’s and there isn’t any structural material in one that a .50BMG couldn’t cut right through, and the plane has an enormous amount of single point failure hoses, etc.

.


.

Above, a look at an American made rifle, using an American designed cartridge, which has long played a part in our history. As interesting as this was, it was not lost on us that today was the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and countless Americans, then and since, have faced terrible hours in the presence of .50BMG gunfire. It is a small comfort to understand that our nation had designers, engineers, craftsmen and warriors who had the understanding, capability and presence of mind to equip our forces a superior and reliable cartridge that played a role in their success and return home.

.

-ww.

.

19 more spaces for CC#39, Barnwell SC, March 2017.

Builders:

Here is important news: We have just revised the capacity for Corvair College#39, and we have 19 builders spaces open. If you were thinking of signing up for this event, do so now, as there will be no further revisions, and I believe these space will fill up in a few days.

Corvair College #39 at Barnwell SC was scheduled for November 2016, but we revised the date to March 10-12th, 2017.  All other things about the event, the location, quality, facility and traditional welcome, will all remain the same. We have previously had 7 outstanding Colleges at Barnwell, and P.F. Beck and crew have set the gold standard for hosting Colleges. Myself and the Wesemans, plus a lot of experienced builders and characters will be on hand to provide progress, learning and fun, all in one setting.

.

If you have not accomplished all you hoped for in 2016, then make the choice right now that 2017 will be different. you can start the year off right by signing up for #39, and using the next 95 days doing the prep work to get the most out of the event. If you need a core motor, parts or are interested in a complete “engine in a box” call Rachel at the SPA/Panther parts and engine hot line: 904-626-7777 (extension #1) to make a plan for progress in 2017.

.

Below is the sign up link for CC#39. Don’t wait too long, once the College sign up is full, we will have no further spaces to squeeze anyone in. Barnwell will likely be the last full college until September 2017.

.

https://eventregistration2017.wufoo.com/forms/cc39/

.

 

IMG_8733

.

Above, Bob Lester’s Corvair powered Pietenpol sits on the ramp at Barnwell at sunset on Saturday night at Corvair College #31.

.

There are many links to Corvair College stories here: Corvair College reference page.

For a look at the 2015 Barnwell College, check this out: Corvair College #35 Barnwell builders video.

For a look at the EAA film about the 2013 Barnwell College, click here: New EAA video on Corvair College#27, Barnwell 2013.

.

Thank you, William Wynne.

http://flycorvair.com/ – https://flycorvair.net/

.

The Continuity of Flight; the Martin Mars

Builders,

Part of the reason why I am attracted to the classic parts of aviation instead of the Popular Science New and exciting and will never happen! BS stories is because much of modern consumer aviation has no soul, it is just junk that has no connection to the timeless traditions and values of flight. Here is a good example of how something classic in flight can thread its way through time.

.


.

Above: Martin Mars, flying down the runway at Oshkosh 2016. This photo was actually taken by Grace with her cell phone. If you were there, you will understand the use of adjectives like Spellbinding and Majestic. I have been to Oshkosh 25 times, and I can’t remember anything that compared with this.  I don’t know what specific thought the flight brought to mind in the other people watching, but for me, it brought thoughts of one old photo from the family album….

.


.

Above, Martin Mars, August 1st 1945, moored at the US Naval Academy. The two people on the right are my Grandparents, they were there to visit my Father. Dad had enlisted in the Navy at 17 in 1943, but they opened the entrance exams for the class of ’49 to any enlisted man in the fleet. He entered Annapolis late in the spring of ’45, when the war was still raging in the Pacific. Look at my Grandfather’s face, as this was likely the happiest day of his life. As a veteran of savage trench fighting in WWI, his real wish in life was that his only son, my father, would not have the same experience. To him, dad getting into the Naval Academy mean he would survive the war, and my grandfather was quietly happy with this. If you were to read a single story I have written, make it this one: A clarification and a century old story. It explains the bond between my father and grandfather, and why I am not judgmental about the motivations of others. My grandfathers quiet joy didn’t last, as my father went to both Korea and Vietnam.  My Grandfather was a hard man, who feared very little in life, but if you would like to understand the full measure of human toughness, you can read this story about my Grandmother: Italo Balbo in 1933, an 83 year old family story.

.

oooooooooooo

.

Martin only made seven Mars flying boats. They were named after island groups. The plane at Oshkosh was originally the “Hawaii Mars” in Navy service. I originally thought there was a 1 in 7 chance it was the same one in the picture with my Grandparents, but it isn’t. The one in the 1945 picture was the original “Hawaii Mars”, but it was actually destroyed in a crash just 5 days after the photo. It was replaced with the “Hawaii Mars II” which was the plane at Oshkosh.

.

In 1953 my father returned from his second deployment to Korea by flying across the pacific on a Mars. They made several stops on the long trip, including one in the middle of the night at Wake Island. Some of the passengers wanted the O club to open while the plane was being refueled. One of them decided to cool off by diving into the pool. He didn’t see that it was empty. This is referenced in the second paragraph of my father’s story Patriotism has no Party.

.

-ww.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

.

Made in USA : .45-70 at 143 years old

Builders,

Today was a working day here in the cradle of Corvairs. Vern and I were working in my hangar, Corvair/Panther builder Paul Salter was tuning up his Panther for the next flight, Dan Weseman met some builders in town at the SPA/Panther factory, and Brent Mayo’s Flying 3,000 cc Panther flew in to our airport, as he now has about 60 hours on the plane.

.

In the late afternoon, we took a short break to do a little shooting in my back yard. My neighbor Wes stopped by with a brand new classic, chambered in one of the worlds oldest cartridges,  .45-70 . As a continuation of my appreciation of great American made mechanical devices and tools, let’s have a quick look.

.


.

Above, a .22LR next to a .45-70, with a standard business card for sizing.  The cartridge is beyond a classic, it is something of a legend. It was first made in 1873, when Ulysses S. Grant was President. 143 years later, it is still in production.  Just like your 50 year old Corvair engine, the modern .45-70  which is dimensionally and functionally the same round that Custer’s men used at the Battle of Little Big Horn, has been the subject of carefully engineered improvements on the original design.

.

Many people only care about “new and exciting!” but it has been my long observation that far more people are served in aviation by old and proven designs, particularly ones they can learn about and fully understand. It has been my experience that people operating aircraft they don’t understand doesn’t always end well.

.


.

Above, a 6 second video of my neighbor Richard showing what 2,400 ft/lbs. of energy into a gallon jug of water looks like.

.


.

Above, Corvair/Panther builder Paul Salter (Read about the first flight of his Panther here: http://flywithspa.com/there-were-10/) Demonstrates what a master’s degree in Aerodynamics and physics, combined with incredibly good eyesight, results in: a first shot bulls eye. It was just 25 yards, but he had never picked up the rifle before, he shot it off hand, and he lined up the iron sights for about 1 second. The rifle is a 16″ barrel guide gun, and this may be very close to the limits of accuracy for the combination.

.


.

Above, a beautiful made in USA Marlin lever action, brand new, a 2016 model, but essentially unchanged from their 1895 design.  For scale, on the left is a Corvair hydraulic lifter, beside it is a .45-70 case, next over is a S&W 500 Magnum….the dinky brass all the way on the left is a 9mm. The Niagara oil cooler pictured is arguably the best oil cooler on the market, and it is made 15 miles from where your Corvair engine was made in Tonawanda NY.

.

In the consumer era, people’s attention is directed to a continuously changing series of “high tech” and “what’s new!” appliances, that here big news today, and gone tomorrow, making up new strata in landfills, their “no user serviceable parts inside” stickers never to see daylight again, keeping used diapers and copies of people magazine featuring stories of the Kardashians company for the next century or so.

.

You can spend your hours on that hamster wheel, blindly expecting something good to come around, or you can make the willful choice to steer your life toward real machines, tools engines,  things with real and lasting value which provide actual quality to the hours spent with them. I have found much greater happiness by choosing to spend my creative hours working with such machines. The work of my life, developing and sharing the Corvair flight engine, has all been done with my life long appreciation for the great designers, craftsmen, and machines that all bore the title, American. 

.

Ironically, none of my friends from abroad have had an issue with my focus, because they understand I fully expect them to be champions of the works of their own homelands, but I have been called everything from a troglodyte to a xenophobe by fellow countrymen who have somehow come to the conclusion that pride in the products and creative people of the United States is an embarrassing social blunder. I do not mean to offend such people, but I am not going to stop expressing my gratitude for the country I live in, which was provided by the lifetime work of millions of good people. The only thanks I can offer them is to offer a grateful remembrance of their efforts and to emulate their simple decency they brought to everyday life.

.

-ww..

.

 

Zenith 601HD engine; Spencer Rice’s 2,700 Corvair

Builders,

Among our youngest of builders is Spencer Rice of Portland Oregon. He has been working on a Plans built 601HD Zenith since he was 14. In the same time period, he has become an accomplished private pilot, flown to Oshkosh, and been a lot of help at many Corvair Colleges. His engine is now done, broken in and tested, he has all his installation components from us, and his airframe is about 75% complete. Not a bad set of accomplishments for a teenager, now going to college and holding down a job.

.


.

Above, an overhead shot of Spencer’s engine, on my run stand in the SPA/Panther factory yesterday. Spencer originally built the engine in his garage as part of my last west coast stop on my 2016 building tour. ( If you missed it, this was my circumnavigation of the US: Back in Florida after 7,380 miles on tour. ) Because I wanted to give the engine a lengthy break in and do some comparative testing that my short stay in Portland would not allow, I brought the engine back to Florida with me. A few weeks ago Spencer showed me some pictures of how fast his airframe progress was going, and I got my end in gear, finished the tests, and crated the engine today. UPS trucking picked it up this afternoon, and in four days it will be back in Portland. Will we see it at Oshkosh 2017? Smart money is betting on it.

.

.

Above, Spencer wrenching on his 2700 cc engine on in his garage in Portland. you can read the story here:  A tale of three Zenith builders. Many stories in magazines of teenagers aviation accomplishments are very thinly veiled publicity pieces, pushed by affluent ‘helicopter parents’ padding their kids silver spoon resume. Spencer and his family are nothing like that. Over the years of working with Spencer, I have gotten to know them, and I have stayed  in their home. Spencer’s parents are honest hard working Americans of the best sort. Their kids, Spencer included, have all be made to work for their accomplishments. They are supportive, but their kids will never be accused of being coddled or spoiled.   For people who like to think those values and perspectives are somehow ‘owned’ by an older generation, factor this in: at age 53, and I am a significantly older than either of Spencer’s parents. I have now traveled in all 50 states, (State #50, North Dakota) and have found our country filled with good people, leading lives based on simple decency toward others….just the kind of story no media outlet makes ratings on.

.


.

Above, Spencer’s engine at power on the run stand outside SPA. Since Finishing School #2, Nov. 11-13, Florida., we have had an engine on the stand every other day except thanksgiving and Sundays. With the Colleges, Tours and 2016 Finishing Schools, and regular engine production, I am pretty sure 90 engines have run on my stand this year.

.

Here is something ironic: Today or tomorrow , someone will write in to an internet discussion group, invariably arguing three points: The things I share about Corvairs don’t work and are dangerous; I am solely driven by money and profits and don’t care about builders, and he is going to ‘expose’ this. You might think being around since 1989 and getting this: EAA Major Achievement Award., would minimize such critics, but I think it actually inflames them, particularly the dozens of positive public comments that accompanied the award. I don’t really understand such people, I usually rack it up to unfortunate childhoods. If you want a glance at what went into building the Corvair movement, look at this: Blast from the past 1993-2003.

.


.

Above a ground level view of the engine at power, during the last break in run. This was yesterday, today I crated it for shipment. Before I closed the lid, I gave it one last look. Not to inspect it, just a pause to consider when the next time I see the engine in person will be. Oshkosh? West Coast Air Tour? Hard to guess, but think about this: Spencer will not be my age until 2051. In the next 35 years this engine will take him on countless adventures. No matter what else he does in aviation,  I hope the engine and the things I as able to share with him, serve him long after I’m gone. That isn’t being morbid, it is just expressing my belief  the hours spent on this particular builder and project were very well invested. -ww.

.

Made in USA – When size and quality matter.

Builders,

When you have a shooting range right in your back yard, you never know what friends and neighbors will show up with. At our home, almost all designs put to work are products of American minds and hands. I am sure our international friends are just as proud of the craftsmanship of their own countrymen, as they should be,  but our small range tends to highlight America’s outstanding work in the field.

.

We rarely shoot after sunset, but Daylight Saving and weeknights, leads to turning on the lights. Some of the larger hardware produces spectacular muzzle flash, which adds to the artistry of a night event. Tonight was such an evening. If your only exposure to firearms is TV, accept an invitation from a sportsman in 2017 to expand your understanding and experience without the media deciding what opinion you will have.  I never pick up a firearm without considering my gratitude that I live in a country where rights and responsibilities are considered as they apply to the individual. The fact this is ingrained in our culture is also why we have the right to fly planes which serve no purpose for society, just for satisfaction of the creative individual.

.

.

Understand the Quality of “Made in USA”: In my hands I am holding a Winchester model 1906. This specific one was made in 1912. Although it is 104 years old, it works perfectly, and I put about 20 rounds through it. This was the design that Teddy Roosevelt used to teach his children to shoot. In an era where disposable appliances like I-pads are worshipped, it is a simple human pleasure to use a machine that was built to last more than a century.

.

If you know firearms, it is easy to see the family resemblance to an 1897 Winchester pump shotgun. There is a reason for this, they were both designed by the greatest firearms designer who ever lived, John Browning (1855-1926). His designs of the Colt 1911 and the M-2 are still in mass production at 105 and 97 years of age. No rational person would argue the man’s genius.  He was, and remains, without compare. Yet on any discussion of “Made in USA” there will always be 20% of Americans who compulsively chime in to say the best of everything, the best designers, the highest quality are always imported. If you bring up John Browning, they must mention Paul Mauser; mention Charles Kettering  and they will pathologically bring up Robert Bosch. I am an aircraft mechanic, not a psychiatrist, but I will guess that something happened in these peoples youth to make them compulsively identify with foreign products and people rather than their fellow countrymen and their work. Factor that in the next time someone is telling you Mercedes are the best cars ever built.  A Rotax 912 is certainly a good engine, but watch how some of its fans compulsively dismiss O-200s because they emotionally believe that anything imported is better.

.


.

Size matters: Smith and Wesson 500 Magnum.  On the topic of impressive muzzle flash, this may be the last word. Get a look at the Corvair Gold Oil Filter housing for size comparison. The rounds pictured are L-R a 510 grain S&W 500 Mag, a .22LR and a .38 Super. Look closely, right above the trigger it says “Made in USA”. This has some sharp recoil. In between rounds we were shooting full power .357 Mag. rounds out of a 1960 Colt Python, and by comparison the .357 suddenly felt mild, if not down right soft.  I am typing this six hours later, and my elbow joint still smarts.

.

I happen to like all kinds of mechanical devices, planes and firearms are just two of them, but they are both things that the United States has an outstanding record of creativity, manufacturing, and lasting quality on. The history of the designers and craftsmen, and the places where the products are/were manufactured is a great part of our country, something to be proud of. Your Corvair engine, both as an original General Motors product and as a product of your own workshop, is a perfect part of this pantheon of machines that we celebrate, both for their design and creation, but also our right to use them responsibly in a way that enhances and expresses our individuality.

.

-ww.

.