Chuck Campbell, 95, departs for blue sky.

Builders,

Chuck Campbell, senior Pietenpol builder and fixture at the Barnwell Corvair Colleges, has passed from this life. In a world were many people succumb to pessimistic outlooks, Chuck would have none of it. He made really great progress on building his plane every year, and he got about 95% of it done before time caught up with him. His outlook was contagious, perhaps fueled by being a member of “the Greatest Generation”, he kept things in perspective. Things that derailed or slowed other builders half his age, we not serious issues to Chuck. In his youth, he had flown F-6F Hellcats into combat against the Empire of Japan, and maybe he understood what a really daunting challenge was.

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A few days ago, Chucks son Joel, sent the note below:

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I’m saddened to tell you that my dad developed some medical issues and is now at a Hospice House on his last “final approach”. We’re hoping that his final landing will be a soft one and know that he has many waiting for him in the “pilot’s lounge” to welcome him home.

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What is especially hard is that he wasn’t able to see his Pietenpol project completed but I know he wouldn’t have traded the build process for anything. It gave him so much joy and kept his aging mind and body young far longer than some.   Hopefully one day it will fly and he’ll surely smile down from Heaven as it lifts off. 

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If you’re so inclined, please pray for Blue Skys and Tailwinds for my dad. 

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Thank you. 

Joel

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Word came from the family yesterday that Chuck was gone.  Although I has read Joel’s note a few days before, Chucks passing felt like something small but very important, broke inside me. I spent a lot of the day thinking about a handful of men of Chucks generation, men I was very fortunate to know, all of whom I will never speak to again, my own Father among them. They carried themselves with a humility and dignity, a direct reflection of their lives built on Meaning, having stood for important ideals. I know many good young people, but we will not see men quite like this ever again, and when our first hand memories of them are gone also, the world really will have lost something irreplaceable.

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Above: 2014- Tim Hansen sent in this  photo he calls Hero’s Engine Runs. It was taken of Chuck Campbell as he donned a leather hat and scarf for the first run of his engine. It was a magnificent moment. Chuck flew F6F Hellcats in WWII. He was over 90 years old, still in great shape and enjoyed learning and building.

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Many people cheered Chuck on during his build, but he formed a special connection with Bob Dewenter and Keith Goff. Both of them earn special mention here as outstanding friends to Chuck.

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I encourage builders to share their thoughts in the comments section, I’d like to show Chuck’s family we understood what a treasure he was.

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WWjr.

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Thought for the Day: Your 2020 Aviation Ambitions.

Builders,

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Above, earlier this year, my sister speaks with the Father of her close friend. The man is nearly 100 years old. He piloted a Dauntless at the Battle of Midway. People think of Midway as a great, decisive US victory, but did you know the Navy lost 150 aircraft, most with their complete crews?  75% of the torpedo planes were shot down, every single one in Squadron Eight. Cdr. Waldron, skipper of VT-8 confessed in his diary the night before the odds of survival were not good. His men went anyway, and when the day was over, 35 of 36 of them, including Waldron, were dead.  The man in the wheelchair above, is one of the last eyewitnesses to Midway, and I’m guessing the carnage didn’t feel like a ‘victory’ the next day.

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What did Waldron and all the others who perished get for their lives? They got nothing, but they provided us the free world we have lived our whole lives in. It was provided to us by such men, 99% of them, my father included, are gone now. This is the idea I was trying to share, as a spent an hour with my father in 2015: Thought for The Day – Have we squandered the great gift?.

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Fewer and fewer people in our world have any connection with someone like the man in the wheelchair or my father. They feel little if any gratitude for the world, still with many faults, which was given to us on a silver platter. They never stop to consider the western civilization of today was far from inevitable in 1942.

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What is so great to be thankful for? OK, I’m the first person to point out everything hollow about modern consumer life, example: Welcome to the 24/7 Anxiety Machine, but that isn’t a reason to throw in the towel. Unlike many others, I do have a direct connection, my fathers memory, to the people who gave me the world I live in. All my Father asked of his children was treat others fairly and do something valid with our lives. Even though he is gone, I still measure my life by his standard.

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For anything I may bitch about, it has really been my personal mission to do something of meaning in with my days. Even if a lot of society is drifting and getting lost, I’m not in charge of their lives, just my own. I don’t offer an example to anyone,  save the example of things not to do. I personally find understanding, creating and flying light planes, and sharing this with others, an endeavor worthy of what it will, and also what it might, cost you. For 30 years, even on some hard days, I have not faltered in this belief.

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In a few weeks I will be 57, and we will all start a new year, and in a few short months another flying season will be upon us. What will you make of it? 2019 has been pretty good to me, but I’m just using it as a spring board into 2020, and there are many ambitions I have in aviation which I will advance this year. What each of us will, or will not do, will be mostly determined by ourselves, not external circumstance. For those who decide this will be their year, I look forward to playing a role in both your productive success and the good times you will share with friends.

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WEWjr.

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New Hangar Roof – The great fortune of good friends.

Builders:

Last weekend, a little army of tireless friends showed up at my place at sunrise on Friday, and set to work on a project that was a decade overdue: My hangar was skinned of it’s roof, extensive structural repairs were made, and it was completely re-roofed in modern R panels. It was a tremendous amount of work, spanning three days. I put it off for years because the commercial estimates were not affordable, and the work was beyond what an individual could do. At the end of this season, a few friends quietly said to get the materials, and we would all go after it in a single weekend.

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We had really nice weather, and the work went better than I guessed it would. I actually had slightly more help than required. The mood was fun, but several times in the process went in the house, ostensibly to make more coffee, but really I didn’t want anyone to see that I was fighting off tears.

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Through the decades of my adult life, I have suffered some very lonely times where I would have given anything to have just one of the friends I have today. For reasons that defy easy explanation, I kept many friends I should not have, and lost a handful of ones I really needed. Today in my fifties, I have a blossoming of great human beings in my life, but there are times where I still don’t believe I deserve them, and at those times it is overwhelming to be the recipient of their kindness and devotion.

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I can rationally say I’m a good friend to people, and recognize that its a two way street, but emotionally, there is a part of me that can’t brush off all the times I was capable of ignoring the emotional plight of other people. I can be roofing with friends having a great time one minute, but if I pause to really take in the outpouring   of friendship, I have a hard time not thinking about people like Mr. Carter, our emotionally scarred  neighbor, a survivor of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. I drove past him many times when he was raking leaves without saying anything.  Years later he told me that his one big hope each week had been that someone would simply stop and talk to him.  Almost no one, including me, ever did. I’d like to apologize to him for it, but he is long gone now, and I’m left with just writing this story and going inside to ‘make coffee’ when I have to.

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I don’t mean to have a somber tone, its really gratitude that I feel. If you have not met me in person, but think my stories and videos always seem to have a lot more people than engines in them, understand that I really find my work to be a story about people, not the machines. If you were to take a look and any week in 2019, you would be very surprised at the number of people who make a contribution, both large and obvious and small and critical, to making my life and work possible. Whenever someone has something nice to say to me, I never forget all the friends who actually make it not only possible, but fun and rewarding.

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Above, the new roof and support structure. My hangar was one of the first structures at our airport, its almost 40 years old, the old roof was original. Kitti Politti and I welded the 24″ deep gray steel truss in the spring, it supports the doors. The hangar is now set for another few decades of supporting good seasons in flying. In the 14 years I have been here, a great number of parts, engines and builders have passed through this hangar. I’m looking forward to a whole new era in the rebuilt hangar.

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Triumph of The Squares – 2020

Builders,

As we get closer to the conclusion of the year, let me give you an advanced look at the source of my 2020 flying season theme.  50 years ago, A first order social philosopher, who constantly reminded people he was a working Longshoreman in San Francisco, wrote a highly influential thesis called “The Triumph of the Squares” the subject of which was the Apollo Space Program, but he held that it was the perfect example of achievement done by men of action and determination, in spite of the politically turbulent times around them. This man was Eric Hoffer.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Hoffer

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Hoffer was the ultimate blue collar man, with a titanic spirit, and a passionate love for his country. He was an unrelenting and insightful critic of all totalitarian movements, and for his writing on the topic, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His specific expertise was the mindset of individuals. A sample quote:

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” People who bite the hand that feeds them, usually lick the boot that kicks them”

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These videos are samples from a long interview done by CBS News in 1967.  I selected the video above not because I like the commentary of the guy who posted it, but because it has Hoffer’s words in subtitles. He has a very strong accent that many people find hard to decipher, but his passion is obvious.  Do not mistake him for anything but purely American, he was born in New York City, and few people loved our country and its people, as he did.

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“Special talent for maintenance” Is the first comment he is making here. He explained how critical this is, and that it’s not present in in many struggling cultures. …… Near the end, he speaks of the then current governor of his home state, whom he feels is not as impressive as the state he serves. The same man, still acknowledged Hoffer’s unmatched service to freedom by awarding him the Medal of Freedom in the White House 15 years later.

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………

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Your 2020 Aviation Connection: 

Hoffer said it was the “Squares” the engineers, the builders, the men of action, that actually defined achievement in the 1960s, not the people obsessed with the politics and social movements of the day. He conceded that there were great things done in civil rights, but held that the people, on both sides of the political spectrum, who were absolutely consumed by daily events, had much smaller individual lives then the Americans, who acknowledged the social environment, but still stuck to their personal creative ambitions, and were determined to see them through. He thought they gave more to the country by far, than people who watched the protests and strife and let the anxiety of it own them.

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I uphold that Hoffer was right about this in 1969, and he is still right in 2019. We will enter the 2020 election year shortly. Each of us will decide every day if we will let the media drama rule our emotions, or if we will go to the shop and advance our personal ambitions in aviation. Social media and politics are controlled by vast corporations with armies of experts paid to make it addictive and irresistible to most people. The advertising revenue and ratings it generates pays for this. They have the ability to make an addictive product that would be the envy of the Medellin Drug Cartel.

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I get why it is hard to change, many things in our society deeply matter to me. In 2016 I wrote this: Thought for the Day: “My Dreams” the day Michael Bloomberg announced he was willing to buy a job at 1600 Pennsylvania ave. But this year, above all others, I am going to invest in myself, advance my own ambitions, and refuse to react on command of each day’s new narrative. If you have the will power to ignore all the emotional reactions the media and the parties and the corporations are commanding you to have, and replace this with the personal action to learn, understand and create, then you will own the year, and lead a life that Hoffer would have praised. 

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2019 Deland and Finish School Video

Builders:

Here is a short fun video, a glance at last week’s Corvair Operations College and the Finishing School held at my place where we Ran  two 3.3L’s and a 3.0L engine.

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Present in the video are many of the personalities who make my year possible, Ken Pavlou, Phil Maxson, Dan Sheradin, Ron the Drummer, Kitty Politi, Earl Brown, and others were here for a traditional year end gathering the same week. We had a few new people thrown in, and more than 30 people over for dinner Saturday night, a lot in a small house. It was a lot of fun, and a good way to close out my 30th year in experimental aviation. It’s mostly people pictures because as much as I love engines, people, are far more interesting, and I am blessed to have more good people in my life than I deserve.

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Looking forward to many good times with friends, both old and new, in 2020.

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We have now achieved the goal of 1,000 subscribers on Youtube, and we will shortly meet the 2nd criterion of having 4,000 hours of video viewing, which will allow direct hyperlinks in the videos and descriptions, which will allow us to bring all of our media formats into one fully coordinated machine. Something very good for 2020. 

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New interview video – Learning and Risk Management.

Builders,

When Ken Pavlou and Phil Maxson were here last week, we took a hour to shoot some interview footage on the topics above. This is the next video on my YouTube channel in the “Perceptions” series.

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Click on the picture above to see the video. It was shot in my front yard at dusk, no notes, one take, no editing to speak of. The “perceptions” videos are share ideas and perspectives in an unfiltered, unpolished, authentic presentation.

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Pietenpol for Thailand, Pt. #2

Builders,

Here is the second letter from Cy Mao in Thailand, about his proposed lightweight Pietenpol.

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William,

Thank you for kind words of King Rama IX and Thailand. Both are deserving of your kind praise.

I think I will try to build this and if over 550 Lbs I will only have to license as airplane, not ultralight but in the process I will discover the lightest Pietenpol practical to build. Or perhaps as you mention use Rotax but I like reliable 4 cycle and sounds nice too so could look at this UL-260. Also perhaps Volkswagen but I think not best RPM for Pietenpol like this and I think not so much lighter than A65.

I will follow your suggestions and am curious just which fittings and such you believe are overbuilt and can be aluminum not steel. But this is not yet critical to know. I will first build ribs.

Of course I’m also interested in your light landing gear you mentioned and the two piece wing you talked about.

I meant to ask if you think 1″ routed spar is lighter or the 3/4″ solid spar I read about. You mentioned a 3/4″ spar and still router it too. So I would think this for sure the lightest. How much to router I will ask later.

First I will build ribs 1/4 x 1/4 so I need to plan spar thickness to build ribs to fit this spar. I believe you suggest lightest possible is 3/4″ and then router too. Is this correct?

Also if I plan to build two piece wing as you mention what is the rib count for this version. I have only seen one and three piece wing views. Not sure how many ribs I will need if two piece wing.

Of course I will report my discoveries such as how much weight is saved by 1/4 x 1/4 capstrips and other things to change and finally of course if something breaks we will all know it is not enough.

You ask my address sir:

KGC – Unit 708 -Emerald Development Group
94/81 MOO 7, Vichitsongkarm Rd
Kathu, Kathu, Phuket, 83120

Note Delivery in Thailand sometimes slow or never shows up. Best if can track and return to yourself if necessary. Also I am happy to pay for book as well. When I see your video I already know I need one.

Thank you Kuhn William

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Above, Roger White’s Pietenpol. It has a steel tube fuselage and an A-75. It is still flying in the hands of a new owner, I’m pretty sure it is more than 25 years old. I saw it in person at Brodhead many years ago. Notice it has Vee cabane struts, yielding a two piece wing and no center section.  I believe this is far lighter than a center section, and it is also stronger. I do not know the finished weight of the plane, but it was visually a very good performer. Roger’s EAA # is 42, he built a number of planes.

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 Roger White stops by my tent at Oshkosh 2010. Note he is wearing a CIB from Korea.  He is a first class American.

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Response to the letter: 

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I believe you are correct, the VW isn’t radically lighter than a 65, but a UL-260 is a four stroke, light, and it makes very good thrust.

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I would plan on 3/4″ spar slots in the ribs, I will see if I can get you some examples of classic planes with 3/4″ spars. I would still route them.

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Manual is on the way tomorrow. I will see if I can find a picture of the 590 pound plane we weighed.

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Thanks, William