Mail Sack, 10-31-12, Patrick Hoyt and Philosophy of landing gear

Friends, the latest from the mail sack……

On the completion of Patrick Hoyt’s 601XL, Wagabond builder Russ Mintkenbaugh writes:

“Congrats to the Corvair powered aircraft builders!, Nothing motivates me more to keep the progress on building my Wagabond with Corvair power than attending corvair colleges and seeing and hearing other builders accomplishments when they take to the sky. I commend you both!-Russ”


One more late addition to the Kevin Purtee story comes from builder Matt Keyes:

“Mr. Purtee,Thanks for a great article and a healthy dose of motivation. I’ve been putting this off for long enough while career and family building. Now my three-year old daughter is crazy for airplanes, so I hope this will become a father daughter project and something bigger over the years. Time to stop making excuses and start making memories! Thanks again. – Matt”


On landing gear story (with philosophy of building sub-plot):

Engineer, Corvair/Dragonfly builder and  CC#22 grad. Guy Bowen writes:

“He must be a Harley Hardtail fan…you should have moved the spring to the seat and welded the gear solid to the frame. Of course the plane would be a pretzel after the first takeoff or landing but at least the tires would look perpendicular to the ground for a while! The road cries no tear for those who must suffer for style.- Guy”

Truth be told, Bob’s M/C is a 1961 BMW frame with a VW type one in it, old school but not hard tail. A number of rigid gear planes have been built from PA-15 pipers to Steve Wolf’s Sampson. Piper was trying to save money, Wolf’s goal was never letting the gear have any negative camber for handling reasons. Your guess that this was a desire for a certain look, function be damned is on the money. I don’t argue with anyone on their choice of style when it doesn’t matter, but I don’t compromise on issues of engineering or function.-ww

Piet Pilot, 601XL/2700 builder, CC#3 host Oscar Zuniga writes:

“Now, that comment about the Texas Taildragger stung! I have a little over 30 hours in N5460Q, a C150/150 with the Texas Taildragger conversion and I don’t remember it having splayed legs. I took a lot of my early training in that airplane and I loved it. I’m going to have to dig out my old photos and see if it’s got the squats! And that idea about the spring in a tube- fabulous! Send that in to Doc and Dee for the BPA Newsletter! Now, to give an ‘amen’ to your closing comments about solitude, I can only say that some of the richest times in my life have been spent working alone in a hangar, on an airplane or engine. The airplane and the tools don’t care who you are or what letters you have after your name. They are at the same time teacher and student, doctor and patient, filler and drainer- and time in the hangar, for all the dirty and beat up it leaves you, also leaves you fulfilled, restored, and healed. Thanks for your candid thoughts on that.-OZ”

Builder Randy Cary shares:

“William, I have been following your Corvair journey for several years and at 65 have been bitten by the bug. I am having to reorder my life as in the past five years I lost everything that I spent a lifetime gathering. However, I have a wonderful wife, two great sons, good health, and a job that pays about one tenth of what I used to make. [ You might say that I rediscovered lifes’ priorities.] Needless to say life throws lots of different challenges in your way and you have to decide how you want to handle adversity. Your recent comments about your painful 2-3 year journey of discovery displays the result of realistic introspection and the courage to discuss it.

Having read a lot in my life, I have been drawn to your blog in part because I want to explore the world of the Corvair conversion process and learn how to tear down and rebuild an engine. However, the real attraction I have to your site is the content of your blogs. It is a rare treat to read honest thoughts and opinions mixed with philosophy that you have painfully accumulated over a lifetime.

I congratulate you on the courage to pursue your work with passion, honesty, and a directness that is rare in today’s’ world. Not only do you have a great talent to teach the gospel of Corvair, but also you have a real knack for writing as well. I look forward each day to your thoughts and enjoy sharing your journey. I hope to visit the Barnwell Corvair College for a day to meet you and see first hand the evidence of your talents. I would have signed up, but family obligations were in place and those come first.Thanks for allowing me an insight into your life. I look forward to meeting you.-Randy Cary”

Randy, there was a guy who we saw just about every year at Oshkosh. He politely advised me at least 4 times that I should just stick to the technical stuff in my writing, because most people just want to know part numbers and sources. He offered the honest addition that he “didn’t get” much of the other stuff, and he asked who I wrote it for. “Myself” I told him. I suggested he just read around the stuff. Years later I wrote a story called “Speaking of Courage”  (search Three Aviation Stories at the top of the page) Same guy wrote me a long letter saying that it had really hit a nerve, brought up thoughts of friends long gone whom he had loved dearly. Said it meant a lot to him and said the story”was there when I needed it.”-ww

Corvair/Sprint builder Joe Goldman writes:

“I think there is some east european Jew somewhere in your past. -Joe”

Joe, coming from you I understand this is both a compliment and a comment on writing subjects that would have appealed to Franz Kafka. literally your 1/4 right. In 1915 in Passaic NJ, an 16-year-old Jewish girl named Rita fell in love with a young Irish Catholic police officer named Michael who walked a beat in her neighborhood. Their secret love survived his deployment to the trenches of France, and a year recovering from his wounds. When they announced their engagement in 1920, both families disowned them. It only made them count on each other more. They had a very happy and devoted marriage. Children William and Eileen came along in 1925 and 1929. Rita was a very successful business woman and Michael became Chief of Police. Michael had a series of strokes related to war injuries starting 1953. They gradually robbed him of speech, mobility, thought, and then life. Rita cared for him at home herself until he passed away in 1960.

When I was born in 1962, Rita was my only grandparent still alive. She was very cultured, articulate and traveled. She had many close friends and was unusually devoted to her 6 grand children. She knew more about Jewish/Christian history traditions and faith than any other person I have ever met. when I was little she taught me philosophy lesson #1, ‘men plan, God laughs’  She had an external joyousness and her life apparently wanted for nothing. I was the youngest of the 6 and lived near by, and took care of her home, the same one she had lived in since 1921. Being an idiot teenager, I could not understand why my Grandmother gradually had longer and longer periods of being somber in her life. At a visit with her cardiologist, an up beat man closer in age to me than her, the doctor blurted out something I had almost said, and certainly thought countless times. “Rita you have everything! What more could you want?”  She turned to him and said in without emotion, “Just one more day on earth with my husband.” It was a quiet car ride back to the house.  She died in the following year, 1986. I have had the 25 years since to think about how children and grand children are no substitute for the person you wanted to share your whole life with.-ww

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