Mail Sack, 4/28/13, Various topics;


Here is a sample of the mail:


On the topic of Carl Sagan and the value of individuality:

601XL builder/flyer Dr Gary Ray writes:

“If each Individual strives to be the best that they can be and follows their own course, then they are the primary beneficiary and all of society benefits as a secondary beneficiary. The Individual is free and society evolves in a positive direction. There are benefits not immediately obvious. Such as a huge increase in mentors and role models. I know now that I am only half as much as I could have been because there was not enough quality science exposure in my early education.
This mental malnurishment takes a toll. It burns time and we know now that a human brain will truncate pathways that are not used (use it or loose it). Each year another thousand doors of opportunity slam shut. So my advice to everybody is, start early and “Go for it”. Associate with those that know much more than you do if you want to learn and grow quickly.”

Pietenpol Builder/flyer, 2012 Cherry Grove trophy winner Kevin Purtee writes:

“I’ve mentioned that I can’t read the website at work anymore so I have to set aside time to get caught up at home. Read all the philosophy tonight. Good stuff. I’m not smart enough to understand a lot of it, but I get enough, I think. I really enjoyed the risk management series. I’ve been doing aviation safety professionally since 1989 and you continue to help me evolve with fresh insights. -Kevin”

601XL Builder w/running 2700/Dan engine William Dominguez writes:

“I’m also a big admirer of Carl Sagan and its work. I was in my early 20s when I watched Cosmos for the first time and it influenced heavily in the formation of the world view I have today.- William”

Builder Bruce Culver writes:

“You see, William, as Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again – enriching my literary understanding of the world. I read Orwell’s review of “Darkness at Noon” and it was everything you said, and so was the quote from Carl Sagan, disturbingly (and accurately, alas) prescient. Both are now safe on my computer for future reference and reflection. And I do reflect on things like this, as I consider what kind of society and culture we are leaving our kids. I am glad I grew up in the 1940s and 50s, when kids could and did ‘go out to play’, sometimes staying away from home for the whole day, exploring streets, neighborhoods, woods – all sorts of places – when we could express our curiosity without being labeled ‘hyperactive’ or ‘ADD’ and get pumped full of drugs, when we could be independent and learn on our own, when we weren’t scheduled to a fare-thee-well to make sure we would get into Harvard Medical School. We had it so good, even if we had no idea at the time just how good it was. Nero once championed ‘bread and circuses’ to keep the people distracted and content, and I see much of that in today’s culture, in “reality” TV and talk radio. The bride and I choose not to participate. You may be, in the truest sense of the term, one of the best-educated people I know and it is a pleasure to read and reflect on what you wrote here – it is so rare to have this kind of philosophy discussed, but it does lead us to consider at least the value of being our own person, pursuing our own dreams, making our own mark, refusing to be one of “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Bravo”

601XL Builder/Flyer Phil Maxson writes:

“While teaching another builder how to polish aluminum in my hangar last night, my friend lamented an $80 part he had ruined due to an error. After looking under my workbench at the many, many parts I had made and was not satisfied with, I responded, “If you stay with this project to completion two things will happen: 1) you will waste far more than $80, and 2) you will gain an education that is better than your college degree.” Sure, we are building airplanes, but in reality we are building men and women.-Phil”


On the topic of engine availability:

Merlin on floats Builder/flyer Jeff Moores of Newfoundland writes:

“Hi William, I’ve been trying to think of something clever to say all week but can’t think of anything, but I feel the need to send a small message of encouragement. I look forward to every evening after a long day at work, (sometimes followed by an evening flight if I’m lucky) when I read your blog. All of the positive things people are saying are right on. Keep up what you are doing and please don’t change! You are both informative and entertaining. I have said this before but again thank you for all of the help you have given me since I started my engine build.

I find it odd for someone to question the “availability” of Corvair parts, and the future thereof. I am probably the most out-in-the-sticks Corvair pilot around, yet I have managed to find a complete core engine locally as well as two spare blocks, a crank (currently at Moldex) and four spare heads. My engine is working so well that I don’t anticipate ever needing these spares but I’m building a QEC (quick engine change) just in case. I do not want any down time! I’m probably farther from Corvair parts than any builder in North America. With all the new stuff from Clark’s and Dan it’s a non issue. The ice on our lake has melted so now I’m back on the water and having tons of fun!!-Jeff, Corvair/Merlin”

Pietenpol builder Dave Aldrich writes:

“If you’d like a counterpart in the automotive community, look at the Ford Model A. Henry built 4.3 million of them (less than 3 times the Corvair total) and the last one was built over 80 years ago. Virtually every piece has been reproduced (in varying degrees of quality) so you can literally build a new Model A, except for maybe the engine block and one or two other castings. The point is that, if there is a demand, there WILL be a supply. People are still building racing parts for that engine, for heaven’s sake. I submit the same thing is true for the Corvair engine, even within the very small aviation community market.”

Builder Jackson Ordean writes:

“Great reality check, especially for us noobs at the bottom of the ‘hiking trail up the hill’. It’s notable that folks critical of even your very high level of ‘transformation’ (I like better than ‘conversion’) of the motor, don’t seem to do any research on O-200 part failures.

5th bearing, de-rating power, non-aerobatic rating, and propeller choice wisdom (and of course, airframe choice), are all parameters you have created that have highly reduced risk down to a non-issue in general. Therefore, specific follow up in craftsmanship and quality part choices falls to the builder.

Re your personality (at least the 2% that can be gleaned from a person’s writing and ‘public persona’) and philosophic bent and expression thereof: Don’t waste an erg more. Say what you want. Besides, we like it. If it’s ‘too real’ for some, that’s their problem. Finally, this post re tech issues is a pretty perfect balance of personal expression, truth, facts, and re-challenge to any questions doubtful or critical of your Corvair program. Thanks!-JO”

 Jackson also shared the thought: “A handy ‘ruler’ to measure the validity of our beliefs is whether it helps, encourages, builds up, validates, saves, touches others. Simple, really. The bumper sticker version of this is: “Stay stoked ’til you croak!” – usually covers all the above. {;^)”


Builder Dan Branstrom writes:



On the Dragonfly flight report from “One Sky Dog”

Dragonfly builder Guy Bowen from TX writes:

“Congrats on 20hrs.OSD! I hope to learn a great deal from your experiences with this air frame and engine combo. I’ve been following your latest exchanges on engine baffling/temp and prop performance experimentation and it seems you are seeing some progress. Things are proceeding well on my 2850 and I hope to get the core finished before the end of the year. By that time you will probably have more issues worked out.”


Some parting shots on the topic of “Plain Speaking”

Builder Harold Bickford writes:

“Lots of good commentary here William, which took more than a few minutes to read and consider. I happen to appreciate the openness and honesty and am never put off. The idea is to learn and develop and that applies to more than just flying machinery. – Harold”

601XL Builder w/running 2700/Dan engine (CC#22), Becky Shipman writes:

“Hi William, I feel confident you will keep writing your mind, so no worries here. People worry about attracting new people to aviation, so one approach is to sugarcoat the risks. I think it’s better to encourage people with a healthy approach to risk management. As a smart but initially uninformed person, knowledge of the actual risks and ways to mitigate them is my way of overcoming fear. That’s what you lay out in your manual and website, and I think the stories just fit in w/ risk management. My recent injury is an example of letting my guard down after 23 years of attention to safety detail.

Ethically I don’t like the idea of making aviation seem easy, then letting mother nature sort out the worthy. I think we do the same thing w/ motorcycles, BTW. It’s the quick sale over the long-term customer. Unfortunately, I think the fact it takes a lot of money to get into aviation means the people who can afford it are not those who have the mindset to succeed at it. Take care, Becky”

Corvair College #25, In Photos

If the photos are small, try hitting the “F5” button at the very top of your keyboard.


It has taken a little while to regroup after SnF and CC#25, but here is a pack of photos from CC#25 for everyone to enjoy. It was a very positive event. We had 55 builders pre-register, and many more stop in for part of the event. Arnold’s crew from EAA Chapter 534 did an outstanding job as our local hosts, and they did the lion’s share of the work on making the event logistics go smoothly. Hats off to every one of them.

We had four pilots bring in their Corvair powered aircraft. Ron Lendon flew his 601 XL in from Michigan, Lynn Dingfelder flew his 601 XL in from Pennsylvania, Chuck Custer flew his Cleanex the “Corvex” from the Florida panhandle, and Bob Lester flew his Pietenpol in from North Central Florida. We had a number of different engines run on the test stand, we had a lot of builders get a good start on an engine build, and we had many people on hand learn a lot of detailed information on the engine. On the fun side, we also had a number of builders, veterans of several Colleges, who just came to have a good time with fellow builders. By any measure it was a successful event. Before it was over, builders were already speaking of making this an every year event, always a sure sign that people really enjoyed themselves and had a productive time. -ww


Above: Every College is a mixture of individual supervised work and group learning, shown in the scene above. In the photo, I am giving everyone a detailed look at, and Corvair specific training, on a differential compression test.


Above, the engine we are instructing on is Larry Magruder’s (in the maroon shirt at right) 2700 cc/Weseman bearing engine. It is going into his Zenith 650.


Pietenpol builder and veteran of several Colleges Dave Aldrich with a high thrust line Pietenpol motor mount we made for him. It is powdercoated white. He saved $80 on shipping by picking it up in person. We are always glad to ship mounts, we do it all the time, but it is nice to head to a College also.


Bob Lester strikes the “Intrepid Aviator” pose with his Pietenpol.  He is good at this because he has seen every old aviation movie ever made. He built his 2,700/Weseman bearing engine at CC #17, and flew it back to CC #25.


Ron Lendon’s 601 XL, flown in from the Detroit area. His engine is a 2,850 cc/Roy bearing engine, also built at CC #17.


Above, several of us get a detail session in on setting valves. Larry Magruder multi-tasks with Scoob E sitting duty while Grace takes photos.


Spencer Gould, Embry Riddle trained, Pratt and Whitney engineer, sets his 2,700/Weseman bearing engine on the run stand. He is getting close to the finish line on his original design, composite, single-seat plane, the SP-500.


William Dominguez of Miami strikes a pose with his 2,700/Weseman bearing engine. He started with parts that he had prepped before the College, and did the complete assembly at the event in two days. The engine ran beautifully. It was the first engine he ever built. He had previously brought a core to CC #23, had a good look at how things are done, and then took action to make things work for him. The engine will power his 601 XL.


Spencer with his engine. It is the only Corvair I have seen that not only has gold parts, but is also painted gold. It ran great.


Joe Sarcione with his 3,000/Weseman bearing engine on the last day of the College. He also started with just raw parts. His prep work consisted of doing a lot of reading, including all the on-line installation directions that are in our parts catalog. The engine is destined for his Zenith 750.


Father-son team of David and Bryan Walker from Arkansas stand behind their freshly torn down core engine.


Roy Szarafinski and his lovely daughter Liese made a brief appearance at the College. They were on the return leg of an international trip and detoured over to spend much of Saturday at the College with builders. In between getting his display set at SnF and conducting the first flight of the Panther on Sunday, Dan Weseman also had a chance to assist builders at the College.


Many friendly hands made short work of getting William Dominguez’s engine ready for the first run.


Mike Schwab (black shirt) and Michelle Tomalo were in attendance. They started their 3,000/Weseman bearing engine at CC #23, finished and ran it at CC #24, and returned to help others at CC #25. Mike is the best source for alternators and voltage regulators. His email address is 


William Dominguez’s engine during break in. It went from ice cold, never started, to live and running in less than 3 seconds of cranking.


The Redditt family works on their 3,000/Weseman bearing engine. It is destined for the family Zenith 750.


Lynn Dingfelder’s 2,700/Weseman bearing 601 XL from Pennsylvania. Lynn had previously flown the plane to CC #20 in Michigan. After the College, Lynn took a short tour of southern Florida and then headed to SnF, where his aircraft was on display at the Zenith booth all week. Lynn is very mechanically inclined, and he has very good judgement, but he is relatively new to flying. He got his sport pilot license four years ago and has slowly and carefully accumulated a few hundred hours, gradually expanding his personal flight envelope. His experience and path is an excellent model for anyone new to homebuilding and flying. 


Larry Magruder and his lovely spouse Diane enjoy the prop blast from Larry’s engine on the run stand. The engine briefly ran at CC #24, but Larry decided he wanted to return to CC #25 and reset the valves and do some detail work under my supervision to make it run perfect. It worked according to plan, exactly. I have great respect for any builder who sets his standards high and sticks with them until his work is outstanding.


Wittman Buttercup builder Daniel Kelley from California flew in commercial for the event and stayed for most of SnF also. He has attended many Colleges. His plane will be powered by his 3,000/Roy bearing engine.


EAA Chapter 534 had a Pietenpol project in the hangar that was the work of a very nice older gentleman who has a Ford Model A for it. They are assisting the man with the completion of the aircraft. I took a photo of the project’s cabane strut arrangement. There is nothing wrong with using aluminum lift strut material; the loads on the vertical cabanes are not that high. However, no one, ever, should use this type of arrangement for the diagonal cabane going down to the top of the firewall. This would fold up like cooked spaghetti in the most minor of mishaps, and could even injure or trap the front seat occupant. The diagonal cabanes should be at least 7/8″-.049″ 4130 tubing, preferably welded to the front vertical cabane tubes.


The Redditt family with their packed van at the end of the College.  Charlie wears his ceremonial Corvair College tie for the photo.


A close up of the Redditt’s 3,000/Weseman bearing engine. It started as a pile of parts before the event, all the way down to the case halves. They attended CC #24, made a plan, and followed through with it. Above, they are most of the way to an outstanding, first class engine.


Looking at all the builders in the above photos, all you have to do is decide that you are going to make this year, 2013, the year that you get more out of experimental aviation. We have more events planned, more Colleges in the works, Brodhead and Oshkosh. Decide right now that you are going to be a part of this. I have been giving Colleges for 13 years. You know the most common thing people say after their first College? They say a variation on this common theme: “I heard about the Colleges, and I was always planning on getting to one, but never did. Now that I have, I really wish I came sooner; I would have been making a lot more progress at home.” Consider this your invitation to the next College. If you are waiting for me to send you a personal engraved one, be advised, you must take a little more initiative to have success in this game. The builders pictured with their running engines are not better people than you, they are not secretly blessed, nor are they special friends of mine. They are just like you, with one small exception: One of the many times I wrote about builders having a great time at a College, they read it, got serious, made a plan and decided that it would be their time now. … -ww