Mail Sack, 10-16-12, Unicorns vs Ponies, CC#24


A few comments on the subject of Unicorns vs Ponies:

Old School EAA member Dan Branstrom writes:

“Great writing! Over the years, unfortunately, in the airframe aspect of unicorns, there have been many designs debuting at Oshkosh that represent the wings of unicorns. The most spectacular being the BD-5, which garnered thousands of orders, and shipped hundreds of kits, minus an engine before going belly up. It is a sexy plane, and it was supposed to go fast on little hp. Read the sad story under “Bede BD-5″ in Wikipedia. Yes, there’s a number flying,but they’re modified substantially from the original, and way too many pilots died along the way. You can not only lose money and time on unicorns, but your life.-Dan”

Corvair/Merlin on floats, builder and flyer Jeff Moores of Canada writes:

“Very smartly done, William. That was humourous, insightful, and sadly true. Many would-be builders waste too much money on unicorns. I am very pleased with my WW Corvair Pony!!-Jeff.”

Builder Harold Bickford writes:

“Hi William,
It looks to me like the internet guy aka TB is thinking about automotive or race applications.and high rpm levels. Nonetheless his commentary is only speculation. If he would take the time to read the SAE papers from Chevrolet specific to the Corvair he might better understand why and how Ed Cole and company designed the engine and car the way they did. Or he could read what the tuners of the day did and why. In either case they did the work (engineering and/or tuning) and it was for automotive and not aero applications. And they did “find” the 15-20 HP with far simpler changes than this fellow is imagining but again it is an automotive application.

As we know, Bernard Pietenpol realized the engine had potential for aircraft use and pursued that path. You and your cohorts have gone from there and developed a good 100 HP engine based on the Corvair. When folks ask why I’ve chosen to use a Corvair for the Piet the first question to them is this: what do they know about the Corvair? Almost immediately they want to change the subject. It may not be fun for them but does provide a great opportunity to have a factual rather than speculative understanding of how and why the Corvair is a good choice for a variety of aircraft. -Harold”

Waiex/120 hp Corvair builder Greg Crouchley writes:

“Excellent post! Seems that 1 unicorn converts nicely into 100-120 ponies. Looking forward to 24- Greg”


750 builder Blaine Schwartz commented on Corvair College #24,

“William, CC#24 looks like it will be a fantastic event! Due to work and distance it took a while, but I finally made it to CC#22 in Austin and had the best time of my life! I underestimated the great group of motorheads and the help you provided me while assembling my 2850cc engine. The friendship and learning that the CC provides is simply not available anywhere else. I hope to be in the air soon and plan to fly in to my next CC!- Blaine”


Corvair College #24, twenty four days away…..


We are now approaching Corvair College #24. I spent all day working in the shop on college prep stuff and building a stock pile of parts. Vern and Terry have put in a large effort with me in the last 10 days, including overhauling the run stand and  making a lot of detail changes to it that will allow much faster engine changes.

In the morning, Bob Lester is flying over in his Pietenpol. This aircraft used to have a 145 cid 65 hp Lycoming on it, but Bob installed his Corvair in its place. By car, it take 2.5 hours to drive to Bob’s airport, but the Piet can now do it in 65 minutes. Bob got a 20 hour test period and flew it off without issue in 10 days. He is headed over here so we can do a weight and balance on the same electronic scales that I measured 20 other Piets on in the last 2 years. Bob reports that the planes climb rate is nearly four times higher with the Corvair. (Yes having 2 times the power can do this because planes climb on excess power, not total power. ) Bob is already signed up to bring his plane to CC#24. P.F. Beck our local host in Barnwell has his own Corvair powered Piet, so we will have at least a pair of them. I spoke with a 750 pilot who is working to fly in and we are also expecting a Cleanex and several 601’s. It promises to be a very good turn out.

The event will be a large, full-scale College held at the same location of the highly successful Colleges #19 and #21. Corvair/Pietenpol builder/flyer and Cherry Grove Trophy winner P.F. Beck, and his great crew, again are the location hosts.  The prep work for the College has been ongoing for 10 months, and it builds on the outstanding work that P.F. and crew did in earlier years. We are going to close the regular registration before the event, don’t wait until it is too late to sign up.

The link to the registration is:

If this is going to be your first College, I highly recommend that you read about all the previous ones at this link to our main Web page: