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”

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