The Cherry Grove Trophy


In the Corvair movement, we have a trophy which we award once a year. It is in recognition of outstanding work in Corvair powered flight. Our primary value in assessing ‘outstanding’ work is that it motivates and assists other Corvair builders to reach their own goals. As you read below, you will find the different ways the Trophy recipients found to make the movement  more accessible to fellow builders. To date, we have awarded the Trophy five times. The names of each of these Aviators are CNC engraved on the Trophy base. When we started, we decided that the Trophy would only be awarded eight times, and then be retired. We have three more November College awards dinners to go, but we have many more years ahead to enjoy the lasting work of the builders whose names are on the Trophy.

Above, from Corvair College #16 at Ed and Val Fishers in SC. On the left, Dan Weseman the 2009 Recipient and on the Right Mark Langford the 2008 and first recipient of the Cherry Grove Trophy.

Above, A photo from the following spring at CC#17.  Mark with his KR2-s and Dan with the Wicked Cleanex. The Trophy is named for Bernard Pietenpol’s home town, the spot where the first Corvair ever took to the air in 1960. To give you some idea of the long history of Corvair power in experimental aviation, consider that Dan was born 15 years after Bernard’s first flight on Corvair power. Mark’s award was based on his efforts to document his Corvair flight experience on-line, where he went on the fly more than 1,000 hrs. He also flew to numerous Colleges and airshows. Dan’s work was to develop, test and promote a very affordable 5th bearing and an outstanding FWF for Sonex airframes. Both have since been promoters of the Corvair movement. Dan has Co-hosted CC#23 with us and has developed the Panther aircraft.

Many people want to believe that some new product in aviation will arrive and ‘revolutionize’ everything. I think the root of this fantasy is that they would like the work and learning to be removed and save them the effort required to stand in front of a machine and say “I built this plane.” I have been in aviation for 25 years, I have seen 25 seasons of ‘revolutionary!’ things come and go with little or no affect on accessibility to flight for working Americans.

I have watched many of the same people get taken in by a new ‘revolutionary!’ idea every few years, never seeing that they would have been long flying if they had just given up on ‘new revolutionary!’ products with lottery ticket odds of success, and instead embraced the philosophy of proven designs with a track record in place of a promise. These people often willfully ignore that the providers of this years miracle product are frequently the same people behind a previous Chapter 11 bound, LLC promoted miracle.

Getting out the book, rolling up ones sleeves and getting your hands dirty is a serious act of self-empowerment, the acknowledgement that your own aircraft will only come from your understanding and labor. There is no ‘miricale, revolutionary, high tech’ white knight solution that will arrive at your shop and suddenly provide you with access to the world of personal experimental flight without learning and work. Yet, this year, as all previous years, we will see a majority of potential builders sit and wait and exchange rumors of the imminent arrival of their white knight. Often their adherence to this philosophy is absolute, they will still be waiting when the last page of their story is written.

Above,  at Corvair College #19, I present the Cherry Grove Trophy to Joe Horton of Pennsylvania. He was the 2010 and third recipient of the award. Joe has more than 750 hours on his KR-2S, and his flown his aircraft to numerous Colleges, and Oshkosh and Sun ‘N Fun many times, and annually to the KR Gathering. He’s a contributor to our Flight Ops Manual, and a frequent positive voice on the Internet. Above all, he’s good company and a quality guy.

Above, a far better photo of Joe with his aircraft at CC#21, with Grace the following year.  The engine in the plane is a 3,100 cc with a Dan bearing. Joe’s aircraft is equipped with a 54 x 60 Sensenich prop. It is capable of efficiently cruising at 170 miles per hour.

Above, in 2011, the fourth recipient of the trophy was PF Beck. We made the official presentation to P.F. at the dinner at CC#21. He has more than 250 flight hours on his Corvair powered Pietenpol. Not only has he hosted Corvair Colleges #19, 21, and 24, and attended a number of others, P.F. has flown more than 210 different people in his aircraft. He is a first class gentleman, incredibly modest, and a skilled aviator with decades of experience. For these reasons, Grace and I both felt that he was the outstanding candidate for the Trophy in 2011.

Above, a photo from Corvair College #21. In the photo stand the four of the pilots who have their names engraved on the Cherry Grove Trophy. Left to right are Joe Horton, 2010 Winner, Dan Weseman, 2009, P.F. Beck, 2011, and Mark Langford, 2008.

Above, at Corvair College #24, we awarded the Cherry Grove Trophy to Pietenpol builders and flyers  Kevin Purtee and his very supportive better half Shelley Tumino.  Their frequent appearances at airshows far from Texas, their constant promotion of ‘learn build and fly’ and the hosting of the highly successful Corvair college #22 made them the right people to be awarded the trophy in 2012. They work as a team, and it was appropriate to award it to both of them. Kevin’s frank discussions of the effort required to achieve something of real lasting value in personal flight reach many builders. Their  ‘lead by personal example’ philosophy has shown a great number of builders a path to success. -ww

For a good read on Kevin’s personal perspective on homebuilding, read his story at this link:

Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee


2013- Phil Maxson, 601XL, New Jersey. Read more: Phil Maxson goes to 3,000 cc for his 601XL.


2014- Ken Pavlou 601XL, Connecticut. Story: The Cherry Grove Trophy, 2014


2015- Woody Harris 601XL, California. Read more: Woody’s 2,850cc Corvair/601XL hits 400 hours., watch a film of Woody at CC#35: Corvair College #35 Barnwell builders video.


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