Saturday was a good day in the history of Corvair powered aircraft. Dan and Rachel Weseman had the first public roll out of the Panther. It is now about 21 days from its first flight. Only minor details and a final FAA inspection remain. The weight and Balance on the aircraft revealed a very light 688 pound empty weight, and the location was exactly on target. The power to weight ratio of this aircraft with its 120 hp Corvair will provide outstanding performance. Couple this with Dan’s higher than typical aspect ratio selection and a demonstrated ability of the wing to take more than 9 G’s, and we will see the kind of flying that one rarely associates with terms like ‘LSA legal’ and ‘automove conversion engine.’
Our local EAA chapter was invited to the roll out. As impressive as the plane itself is, a number of us on hand understood that the plane was just the physical evidence of one man’s incredibly strong-willed determination to exhaustively educate himself on all facets of aircraft design and manufacturing. Our chapter has an impressive collection of engineers from Americas top aviation schools, Embry-Riddle, Parks, USNA, etc. In speaking with them, each said that they were astounded at the depth of Dan’s self acquired understanding on all facets of this design, particularly his mastery of stress analysis and structures. Every single one of the engineers readily offered their formal training and industry experience gave them no better understanding of the subjects than Dan’s dogged self pursuit of the subjects.
In an era where it has sadly become acceptable for people who wish to be in aviation to publicly state that they really don’t want to learn anything, and there is an expanding array of consumer appliances to entertain such people, I find it a refreshing honor to know a man who set his personal goal on finding out how much he can learn and master, not how little. Dan may have been born in 1975, but his attitudes and will are from an earlier era when American aviators would accept no reason nor excuse for being diverted from their personal destiny to achieve. When JFK set Americans on the path to the moon in 1962, he directly stated:
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
These attitudes are at the very core of being an American. We restore and sustain ourselves through their practice, our demise is through dismissing them as antiquated. I have been in aviation for 25 years, and in that time, I can think of no better example of example of an individual setting his personal goals on the highest levels of understanding and mastery, and then using these skills to create an outstanding aircraft with his own hands. If you have been told that aviation innovation and opportunity for achievement are not accessible, I suggest meeting Dan in person, he is the strongest proof that your destiny is only limited by your will. -ww