EAA Major Achievement Award.

Builders,

At the Friday night dinner at Zenith’s open house, I was very surprised when the EAA’s director of homebuilding Charlie Becker, presented the EAA’s Major Achievement Award to me for my work teaching builders about engines since 1989. I was completely unaware that I had even been nominated for it, and the only hint of the impending award was Charlie calling me a week earlier and saying ” I highly suggest you consider a haircut before going to Zenith.”

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With Charlie after the dinner.

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At the dinner, Charlie presented the award, and I was caught competely off guard. Several friends later said it might have been the first time they had seen me at a loss for words. The EAA considers the award for up to five members a year who have given long service to fellow members. While it means a lot that the EAA approved my award, it was very moving to have been in a room with several hundred builders and fellow industry people and have them stand and applaud. I have worked a lot of years with little evidence that anyone beyond the immediate Corvair Community understood what I was trying to share or how important it was to me. The moment it was presented was strong proof that  people in the larger home built community did understand. 

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Here is the main reason why the award was a surprise; As a harsh self-critic, I can offer plenty of evidence that I don’t deserve it.  People who have never met me often think I must be an opinionated know it all. Nothing could be further from the truth. I spend many quiet hours working alone everyday, and I spend a portion of it rexamining my perspectives and actions, and I am much more inclined to question myself than validate any opinion or action I have held or taken. If I have a sole redeeming quality, it is that I still have doubt, even when friends around me support and agree with me. That isn’t false modesty, it is just an awareness that comes from learning that the largest mistakes I made in life happened when I had the least doubt about which path to take. 

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I have many people in my life to thank for the success I have had. This ranges from builders who offered a positive and fair review of our efforts to my wife Grace Ellen who has shared 17 years of triumphs of great days and tragedies of the loss of friends, all with a resilance that asked a great deal of a very sensitive person. 

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It is my greatest fortune to have been born to my parents. There is no day where I feel I have lived up to the opportunity provided by simply being their son.  19 hours after driving away from the Zenith factory, we arrived back in our little town in Florida. The first stop I made was in front of the post office, where I carefully wrapped up the award and mailed it to my parents home in New Jersey. Walking outside, I paused for sometime in the shade to consider just how little my life would have been without them. The thought was more humbling than being presented with the award.

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-ww.

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Working with builders at Zeniths Open House.

Builders;

A brief note from Mexico MO; this year’s open house has drawn hundreds of Builders to the Zenth factory to celebrate their 25th year of US operations. We are glad to be invited to play a part and work with Corvair builders all weekend.

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Val and Craig Westedt’s 650, the first of four Corvair powered Zeniths to fly in. 

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Dan Weseman shares techniques with builders on the demo assembly of a 3,000 cc Corvair.

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-ww.

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Ford Man and ‘Old Hairy Guy’ deploy to Zenith 

Builders, 

Dan Weseman and I depart tonight for the 25th annual open house in Mexico Mo. This Friday and Saturday. 

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For a better understanding of the title of this story, type ‘ford man’ in the search block on the upper right of this page.

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The game plan is to hit Duncan Donuts on the way out of town and each buy a dozen donuts and a one gallon ‘Box o’ Joe.’ We should be across the Mississippi by 4 pm tomorrow. Looking forward to having a great time at the open house. 

Nine days to Zenith’s 25th Open House, Mexico MO.

Builders:

We are now just nine days away from a very important event, the Zenith Open house. I have been on hand for the last 10 open houses at the Zenith factory, we have held Corvair Colleges just before 4 of them, but this year, Zenith will mark their 25th year in Mexico. They are the very definition of a solid enduring company in an industry known for short lived business ventures.

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I have detailed information on what we are doing with Corvairs at the event at this link:  Zenith 25th open house, Mexico MO, Sept. 23-24.  It also includes links to Zenith’s website with information about attending the event. All homebuilders are welcome, there will be a large number engine and component companies on hand, and there is a lot to see at these events.

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  People often ask me how I had a number of great days in aviation, like this: From The Past: With Steve Wittman 20 years ago today. Here is the magic answer: I got in the car, drove there and showed up. It didn’t always generate a perfect day, but staying home reduces the chances of an exceptional day to near zero. Decide now that you will show up for the open house. It’s your life, make it count.

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Above, Zenith 601XL  builder and 500 hour pilot Ken Pavlou.  If you read a single story I have written this year, make it this one:Ken “Adonis” Pavlou advises aviators: “Life is short, Live Large”  If you spend a lot of hours wondering if aviation really is for you, read this story, it will introduce you to one of the all time great character in experimental aviation. If you are a Corvair builder, you can take a special measure of pride that our team has an exalted place for this man.

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If you are a Zenith builder headed to the open house. and you want to pick up a mount or an exhaust, check out the two stories below and Contact Rachel Weseman at 904-626-7777 about ordering them in advance.- Thanks.

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Part #3901-A Zenith/Bearhawk Stainless Exhausts, now on shelf.

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#4201-C Pietenpol Motor mounts, now on the shelf, ready for shipping.

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Zero back ordered Motor Mounts.

Builders,

I don’t have an exact count, but I am pretty sure we have welded and sold 400-425 motor mounts in the last 20 years. While the Zenith 601/650 leads the all time popularity contest, I have also made almost 40 one of a kind mounts for the Corvair.

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Over the years there were times we made large batches of the popular mounts, but almost always the less popular or one of a kind mounts were back ordered. Most builders were ok with a reasonable wait, but in the last two years, I was getting further and further behind on mounts, and the lead times were getting unacceptably long. When I asked Dan and Rachel Weseman to take over the distribution of our products back in January, I told them that my #1 goal was to eliminate all the back ordered items, particularly the motor mounts. On February 1st the day we got started, I had almost 25 mounts on order, with new sales being made every week.

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The issue could not be solved by just heading out to the shop and welding for a month; doing so would just push other items behind, and derail events like the Western College tour. The solution was a bit more complex: It involved hard work, but it also included making a careful CAD study of our Pietenpol mount design, and converting it to CNC milled tube sets. These cost more, but critically they take a lot less hours to fabricate. I also cross trained Dan and Rachel’s weldor, Travis to make many of the mount designs, so production would continue while I was on the western tour. Get a look at this story: Parts Production improvements- #4201 Motor Mounts and this one: #4201-C Pietenpol Motor mounts, now on the shelf, ready for shipping.

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The Pay off comes this week: We now have reached the point where we have Zero motor mount back orders, and we have a number of the popular mount designs on the shelf. We will not get behind again because I have more hours in my day, I have Travis to weld as needed, and all of the most popular mounts we offer are now made from CNC tubing sets. Keep in mind that since February first, there have been plenty of new orders on mounts, and that Dan and Rachel have their own lines of Corvair mounts for the Panther and the Cleanex. To get caught up, I had to get production well above the existing rate that was already flowing out to builders.  It didn’t happen overnight, I owe a big thank you to Dan and Rachel for their help, but it is actually now done.

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I gave some thought to this today, and I actually can’t remember how long ago it was that I didn’t owe anyone a motor mount. It has been a number of years. On one hand I could easily say that builders willing to wait is strong evidence that builders understand the value of our designs, and trust me to produce items they ordered. But today, it feels a lot better to simply say we are caught up on mounts.

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-ww.

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Above, a part number 4201(E), this is a  KR2/2S mount, tricycle gear mount. Over the years I have made about 40-45 of these. This one was photographed on the shipping floor at SPA/Panther a few days ago. It is not powder coated, but it has a twin that was just finished that was. These two mounts had been the last two on the back order list. My humble apologies to the builders that waited for them. They were late, but the quality will not disappoint.

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If your progress this fall includes mounting your engine, Please get a look at this page: http://shop.flycorvair.com/product-category/airframe-accessory-parts/

If you are headed to one of the upcoming events, and you would like to pick up a mount in person, contact Rachel at SPA, 904-626-7777 (extension #1) about an order, she will be glad to help.

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Below is the numbering system for mounts that we use in our manual, and in the ordering system. The links in color  can be clicked on to read the story about the parts:

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Motor mounts (4200)

4201(A)- Zenith 601/650 mount, all models

Zenith 601/650 Motor mounts, P/N 4201(A)

4201(B)- Zenith 750/Cruiser mount

Zenith 750/Cruiser Mounts. P/N 4201(B)

Zenith 750 Mount Sale, only 5 avail.

4201(C)- Pietenpol mount, high thrust line

Pietenpol Mount on airframe

Pietenpol Products, Motor mounts, Gear and Instalation Components.

Pietenpol Motor Mounts, P/N 4201(C)

Three Pietenpol Motor Mounts

4201(D)- KR2/2S mount, conventional gear

4201(E)- KR2/2S mount, tricycle gear

4201(F)- Custom mounts

4202- Tray and spools


 

 

 

West Coast Event: Contact! Magazine alternative engine meet: September 24th French Valley California.

Builders:

For west coast builders, September 24th is an opportunity to head to French Valley California, for the alternative engine round up, organized by Contact! Magazines’ Pat Panzera. You can read all about it at this link:

http://www.contactmagazine.com/roundup.html

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Corvair Quickie Q-2

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Above, a Corvair powered Dragonfly at the 2014 event.

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Zenith 601/Corvair builder Larry Nelson, from Yuma AZ will be on hand to cover Corvair Questions. Larry Was a big help to Dan Weseman and I at Corvair College #34 in Mexico MO., and is up to date on developments on our engines. Additionally, Steve Glover, from NV aero, who hosted Corvair College #37 in Chino in the spring will be at French Valley for the event. Steve has a flying 601XL with a 2700cc Corvair of his own.

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This is the 13th event Pat Panzera has hosted, and they offer a wealth of technical information for highly experienced industry people and homebuilders…..And one more thing: the event is free, part of Pat’s long standing commitment to support homebuilding.

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-ww.

 

Deland FL, “Sport Aviation Showcase” November 3-5

Builders,

Deland Florida is about 20 miles west of Daytona Beach. It has a very active airport, well known as a center of skydiving. In central Florida, the airport is known for having a very productive and supportive relationship with the city, and for this reason it has become a very active light industrial center, while retaining it’s small town airport feel. After several years of planning, they are going to hold the first “Sport Aviation Showcase” there this November 3-5th. If you like sport planes, and particularly if you are a homebuilder, this is a new opportunity not to be missed.

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kitplanes24

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Above, Dan Weseman flying the Corvair powered Panther. Dan and Rachel were one of the first companies to sign on to be at the Sport Aviation Showcase. Their booth is #8 at the event. They will be there with a number of flying Panthers, and they will have all of our Corvair parts, and their own line of Corvair stuff on display. You can read more about it at this link to their site:

http://flywithspa.com/new-deland-showcase-november-3-5-2016-welcomes-homebuilders-join-us/

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What is different about this event? First and foremost, it isn’t an “Airshow.” By its very definition, an airshow is at it’s core a show, which means a spectator event, aimed at entertaining.  The Deland Showcase has a different name, to accurately reflect that it is being held to get more people personally involved in aviation, not as spectators, but as participants, people actually in the Arena of flight.  I have written at great length in stories like this: 2015 Your year in aviation? about making the decision that you will be a participant in aviation, not a spectator. This event is built to directly serve people who’s goal is to be a participant.

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The “Showcase” element of the event is getting manufactures to directly interface with builders and pilots. While you can go to an “airshow” and speak with companies, it is very rare that you would be able to see their Sport aircraft fly up close, and the odds of being able to get a demo flight are non-existent, because the airspace at an airshow is monopolized by performers for spectators.  The Deland Showcase corrects this by focusing the event on direct contact between the aviator and the manufacturer. There is no ‘airshow’ so manufacturers will be able to demonstrate their aircraft all day, and supply demos. This isn’t an add on to the event, it’s built in to the DNA, all the way do to having 40′ aisle spacing between manufacturers rows so that their aircraft can quickly be moved to the flight line for demos.

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The long term goal is to make Deland the Sport aviation center of the South East.  The city of Deland has set aside a very large tract of land on the airport grounds to build new permanent infrastructure to attract manufactures to move to the airport or operate their regional dealerships from. A number of kit manufactures I know are already speaking of this.  Most airshows are run for profit by companies which have the city as a paid host.  Conversely, the city of Deland is not just the location, but they are the organizer of the event, and their goal isn’t maximum profit, it is to highlight their long term plans to become a very important center of sport aviation.

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This is a very rare opertunity to be a part of someing new, to directly serve homebuilders and pilots. When I heard about the concept of the showcase, I immediately understood that this would be a very different event. I went down and met Jana Filip and the team working on the event, and was impressed enough to immediately offer my support as a volunteer. I have been guest speaking to Florida EAA chapters to encourage them to participate in November. I expected the message to be well received, but the response from chapter members has been incredibly positive, with upwards of 90% of the members on hand stating they are planning on being at the Showcase. To me this is a very good indication of the appeal of an aviation event focused on participation. It takes very little explanation to old school aviators before they say “It will be just like the legendary Rockford gatherings in the 1960s.”  or  “This is what was great about Sun n Fun 30 years ago.” If you are a relatively new arrival to sport aviation, The Deland Showcase is your chance to get in on a new event that will certainly be considered among the best events, because it is designed to return to the roots of what made all the previous ‘classic’ events special: Participation.

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To directly learn more about the event, read this link to their website:

http://sportaviationvillage.com/

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-ww.

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