Mailsack 7/24/13


The topic below touched a nerve with builders. I also received a number of private letters. One of them I read very carefully came from a thoughtful builder who had lived and worked in China. He pointed out that choosing to use words like “Communist” was a distraction, and that The Chinese had moved so far from Marx that the term no loner applied to them, and just harkened back to McCarthyism, causing people to miss the point that this is largely about how the short term greed of the few here is used by the long term goals of the Chinese. I agree with his main point. However, when I describe the PRC as ‘Communist” I am not primarily thinking of economics, I am thinking of them as a totalitarian police state with little respect for human rights. There was a time when a lot of Americans were bothered by the thought of other humans living in those conditions, but today we ignore it as long as they provide all the cheap consumer trash that supplies our gluttony for gadgets.  Here is a sample of the mail:


On the topic of Communist Chinese government at Oshkosh


Builder Dan Branstrom wrote:

” I’m the son of missionaries to China.  While we fled the communist takeover in 1949, I also realize that the incredible corruption of the Nationalist Chinese government, now on Taiwan, and now much reformed, eased the way for the takeover. I also believe that much of our early hostility towards the communist government was unwarranted.  That does not mean that I think Chairman Mao was a good guy.  After all, he is responsible for more deaths than any other person, and that includes Hitler and Stalin, because of his economic, military, and social policies.  It just means that I think many of our policies were unnecessarily hostile at the time.

Now things have swung the other way.  We have now become unnecessarily friendly towards the “Communist” government.  We have pursued economic policies that have, in effect, given them the keys to the candy store in the name of a “free market.” I say “free market” because, in dealing with Chinese “businesses,” there is no “free market.”  Everything is owned by the government because businesses only exist because the government says they can, and it intervenes whenever it wants.  They are tools of the government.  Decades ago, when China “opened up,” U.S. businesses were required to take on a Chinese partner if they were to do business in China.  The purpose of this was to transfer as much industrial technology as possible to China.  They then ate our lunch because those businesses, supported by the government, it’s financial aid and industrial espionage, used our R & D, which they didn’t have to underwrite, to undercut our businesses. At every turn, they kept holding out the carrot of the “vast, emerging, Chinese market.”  That is an illusion, because they have no intention of having us produce for that market, but to produce for themselves.  The “vast, emerging, Chinese market” was a big, fake incentive, and we fell for it.”

“P.S. Apparently, the Chinese just bought Thielert.”

Zenith builder Dave Griggs wrote:

“William, I had heard of all the Chinese investment in US aviation business, I am not sure where, maybe AOPA. I had more of an  interest in Cirrus because my son works there. Cirrus had put their jet program on hold and was experiencing layoffs in the manufacturing end of things, probably due to the economy and market. My son was saved from layoff by moving to the maintenance side of the company. So far the Influx of the Chinese money has created American jobs. Cirrus is actively working on their jet program and are hiring new people. Of course I am concerned about the long range goal of the Chinese investors. Will jobs eventually be moved out of the country? A bigger concern may be that a good portion of our huge national debt may be owed to The Chinese. Dave Griggs Zenith 750 builder in hot and humid Minnesota “

Zenith builder Paul Normandin wrote:

“William, About two weeks ago I was in Home Depot looking for a step drill bit, I noticed that it was made in China. On a whim, I walked up and down aisles and picked up objects trying to find something, anything not made in China. I didn’t even limit my search to “Made in the USA” just anyplace that wasn’t China. I failed. Bolts, screws nuts in stainless (nothing like that high grade Chinese stainless), brass, galvanized… I looked at lock sets, power and hand tools, all made in China. It shames me to see so much of what was once proudly made in the USA now being manufactured by virtual slave labor in China. We can’t have free trade with Cuba because they are evil communists. We can have all of our goods manufactured by human rights violating, environment raping slavers (who are also, by the way, Communists just like Cuba). We got here through greed; corporations wanting to make maximum profit without caring about anything more than the bottom line, and buyers who wanted cheap products without regard to where they were made. The only way I know how to fix this problem is to refuse to buy Chinese manufactured products but God damn, they are everywhere.”

Zenith builder Phil Carley wrote:

“Dear William, I share your passion and concern for “Made In America” for General Aviation and other industries. I was employed at a Computer Distribution Company from 1994 to 2004. This company outsourced it’s programing to India and many people lost their jobs.  I did not lose my job, but I saw no path for advancement within the programing environment.  I’m currently working for a local distribution company selling Rod Ends.

I’m training for my Sport Pilot license in a Cessna Skycatcher 162, made in CHINA, and thanks to your enlighten article Continental Motors, Inc. is now owned by the CHINESE!  Even though the motors are made in Mobil, Alabama.  Is it only a matter of time before the manufacturing will be taken off shore to China or maybe a nice CHINESE CLONE? After I complete my Sport Pilot training I plan to build a CH 650B with a Corvair motor and I will have “Made In America” my project theme.   Phil Carley Working American”

Builder Bruce Culver wrote:

“I think Paul P. would agree with you. He was getting involved with another homebuilding group dedicated to actually building light airplanes. I agree that a new organization is needed, because EAA has very little interest at all in true light aviation and homebuilding. As you have said, the big companies can make as much money selling 100 $1 million airplanes to the wealthy as they can selling several hundred $50,000 airplanes to the working classes, and it’s a lot less hassle. We are pretty much on our own. The irony here is that the “flying rights” they want to protect serve only the interests of the “professionals” who now run the EAA/AOPA/Private Pilot crowd. Those of us who want to fly “low and slow”, primarily VFR, will not have to use many if any of the FAA services for our basic light aviating. And long after the dearth of enough GA airplanes to support the current repair/maintenance infrastructure causes most of that infrastructure to disappear, the true homebuilders will be inspecting and repairing their own planes. Maybe we’ll be the only ones left… least down low.”

Builder Dave Morris wrote:

“We’re giving them our aviation industry, and right north of me we are training their pilots by the hundreds. Boy this is not going to have a happy outcome at all.”

Cruiser builder Sarah Ashmore wrote:

“You are so right once again. It is sickening to see how much of U.S. industy is now owned by Communist China, not to mention how many valuable, high paying, skilled jobs have been exported theer as well. As for the EAA I have a suspicion that in the not to distant future they will decide to “Re-Invent” the organization to be more representative of is base and drop the word “Experimental” from the name. We see other Big Businesses doing such a reinvention of their corporations all the time and EAA is big business otherwise the half million tab from the FAA would have shut this years convention down. As you have pointed out the EAA magazine has long since lost touch with the grass roots membership and only highlights mega bucks projects that have very little owner content (builder is no longer a valid term for those aircraft). Sun-N-Fun long ago replaced Oshkosh as the must attend event for the year and even they are starting to get too big to represent the EAA base.”

Builder “Pete” wrote:

“Unfortunately, went I went to the big model airplane meet most of the vendors there were selling chinese made parts.  A few vendors were filling the gaps with small business built items but sadly its just like Walmart was a few years ago with foreign made products dominating the market.
Who do I blame?  George H W Bush, former ambassador and traitor to the American economy.”

Pete, I think a lot of people had their hand in the transfer of jobs overseas. The thing the surprises me is how fast people switched from 85% of American’s caring about “Made in America” to 85% not caring at all. This only took 20 years. I can remember when Harley owners were outraged to find the factory had subcontracted some of the forks to Japan. Now, very few people care about such things. The mayor of Detroit pointed out that they have gone from 300,000 goo manufacturing jobs to 27,000. You can not sustain a city, an industry nor a country on this basis. Everyone knows this, but few people care, as long as they get what they want today cheap. If a US plant with 1,000 good middle class jobs is closed, that is a 1,000 people who are not going to be capable of building a plane, learning to fly or practicing their craft any time soon, if ever. The CEO who sells out the jobs makes the investors happy, he gets a big bonus and buys a Cirrus or a TBM, and we a supposed to think of this as ‘efficiency’ and making good sense. It is just personal greed in place of your neighbors, your children and your country.-ww

Zenith builder / Our JRB  Spencer Rice wrote:

“Just gave me another reason to build my own plane and build a Corvair engine!”

Builder Jackson Ordean wrote:

“The time is past ripe for a new organization/group.  I only support EAA because I don’t know of another alternative that is devoid of suits, concrete, glass, steel, big staff, slick mags, big expensive stuff, and Chinese sellouts. Of course, I’d want you to be President and lead on in the spirit of Poberezny.”

Jackson, I think you are right on, and the EAA has taken homebuilders for granted because they were the ‘only game in town’.  Today, what they underestimated was that a number of builders would choose nothing over them. I appreciate your support, butI have a better idea: Each of us starts with the premise that we are our own aviation organization. Our Shops are our temple of creativity, and we don’t need to feel that Oshkosh and the EAA management is the center of our aviation experience unless they re-earn it. Self reliance and sharing this with other like minded builders is great stuff, and you don’t really need a large top heavy management organization in another state selling you tickets for $150 to attend your own membership convention. Wherever you are should be the center of your aviation experience.-ww

Oshkosh Forums 2013, Flycorvair / Wm. Wynne


Below are my 2013 Oshkosh forums. Lest anyone think that I do not appreciate the good people who make up the bulk of the work force at Headquarters, let me directly say that I worked for EAA publications as a staff writer from 2002-2006, and rank and file staff members are outstanding people who take their jobs very seriously. They earn modest salaries and work very long hours.  Every single one of them I worked with expressed that they considered it a privilege to serve the membership. These people are in charge of the day-to-day work. The only people at headquarters I have an issue with is the upper management that sets the direction of our membership association. This is an important distinction I would like to be very clear about. Unfortunately, the membership gets very little if any real contact with the elite management to express concerns about our organization. We do have acess to the people who work at headquarters, and I want to remind members that these are not the people making the decisions you don’t like. You can not hold the workers personally accountable for the decisions of the board, and I suspect they have as little input on policy decisions as you and I do.

2013 marks my 17th year of giving forums on the Corvair engine. They are very well attended, but due to time limitations, often the really detailed information is covered in follow up at our regular display. If you would like more follow on information, come see me in our booth, #612 across from Zenith in the north display area. -ww

Blast from the Past: Below, Oshkosh 2003. I stand just after my forum with EAA legend Marv Hoppenworth. (He is best known for designing all the pedal powered planes for kids, but he did a lot of other stuff in the EAA.) He is a long time Corvair fan. We met him by knowing his son Jay. At Brodhead, Jay had often  shared pictures and stories of his parents, who had met and gone flying in an L-4 on one of their first dates. Marv is truly old school EAA, and it was an honor and pleasure to meet the father who was so obviously  his son’s hero.



Add Date Time Title Venue Map Presenter Type
Tue 7/30 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM Corvair Flight Engines Workshop Classroom II K10 William Wynne Forum
Wed 7/31 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM Corvair Conversions Forum Pavilion 02  GAMA K09 William Wynne Forum
Fri 8/2 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM Corvair Flight Engines Workshop Classroom II K10 William Wynne Forum
Sat 8/3 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM Corvair Flight Engines Workshop Classroom II K10 William Wynne Forum

Communist Chinese government at Oshkosh


One of the things that I dislike about our aviation industry is the fact that many people in the management of US companies have sold them to the AVIC, the aviation front company that is wholly owned by the communist government of the people’s republic of China.  Haven’t heard about this? I can make a very good case that the aviation journalists and many of the officers of US aviation organizations have gone out of their way to keep quiet about this sell out of US manufacturing, simply because there are perks for those that “get along to go along”.  There is far more personal reward for those that talk about imaginary things like “China’s need for private GA aircraft” and very little reward for people who are speaking of defending the US aviation manufacturing base that was carefully built over 100 years.

For those that think I am being dramatic: Above, a picture of a Continental Data plate from a C-85. If you look closely, you will see that the center of the design is a picture of the US Capitol building, with the creed “As Powerful as the Nation.” Do you recall reading in your aviation magazines that this American company was sold to the government of the people’s Republic of China?  Think I am making this up? Below is the Wikipedia page for the company:


“Continental Motors, Inc. is an aircraft engine manufacturer located at the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Alabama. Originally spun off from Continental Motors Company in 1929 and owned by Teledyne Technologies until December 2010, the company is part of AVIC International, which is owned by the government of the People’s Republic of China.”


They are not alone: Do you recall reading that Cirrus, an aviation company with it’s roots in homebuilding, who’s designers are in the EAA hall of fame, sold the company to the communist Chinese Government? Lets look at the Wikipedia page:


“The Cirrus Aircraft Corporation is an aircraft manufacturer that was founded in 1984 by Alan and Dale Klapmeier to produce the VK-30 kit aircraft. The company headquarters is located in Duluth, Minnesota, United States.

The company is owned by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA), itself majority owned by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), which is in turn wholly owned by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.”


Maybe you like Lycoming style engines? Superior has always been one of the best known names in aircraft engines. What is not been reported is that they are now owned by the Chinese. Again, lets look at the Wikipedia page:


Superior Air Parts, Inc. is a manufacturer of aviation piston engine replacement parts, headquartered in Coppell, Texas, United States and owned by the Chinese company Superior Aviation Beijing. Superior air parts started as a manufacturer of valve guides in 1967. The company branched out into FAA/PMA approved parts for general aviation aircraft. The company manufactures replacement parts for Lycoming and Continental aircraft engines. The cylinder assemblies use newer cylinder head alloys and fully hardened cylinder liners.[1] Most of the company’s production is outsourced, with Superior ensuring that the parts meet their engineering and testing standards.[2] In 2008, Superior Air Parts parent company Thielert declared bankruptcy. Superior was sold to Superior Aviation Beijing (Qingdao Brantly Investment Group and Beijing Suyoupeirui Company).\.

I could go on like this for a long time. Some of these investments are disguised. For example, many US companies are said to be owned by the Brantly helicopter company. This is true. But what is not said is that Brantly functions as a holding company, and it is in turn owned by the Chinese. Again, the Wikipedia page:


Brantly International Inc. is a helicopter company with its engineering and administrative offices based in Brantlyin Coppell, Texas, United States. Manufacturing of Brantly-designed helicopters is now carried out by Qingdao Haili Helicopters of China.


What you may not know is that the EAA actually welcomes “The China Pavilion” at Oshkosh. Keep in mind that Oshkosh was started as the annual membership meeting of the Experimental Aviation Association. Yes, this is your meeting. Do you recall if anyone asked the membership how they felt about inviting the government of Communist China? I don’t. Keep in mind, the president of the EAA, Jack Pelton was the CEO of Cessna when the decided to move the production of the Cessna 162 to China, so I suspect he is just fine with US jobs being shipped to communist countries. If you would like to learn a little more about the EAA presidents background Google search the terms “Jack Pelton, CBS 60 Minutes, Fake engineering degree”. Let me assist:


The China pavilion is hosted by a very slick guy. He sent out the red letter below to every business owner who is renting space at Oshkosh. You can go to the man’s website, and it will directly tell you that private aviation in China is a myth:

” China’s  aviation is built from the ground up from the military, and it is owned and  operated by government.”

His goal is to get US companies to sell to China, or at the very least, transfer their jobs to mainland China, giving away US manufacturing information to the Chinese, who are notorious for having zero respect for patents and intellectual property. They actually send delegates to nearly every booth. Last year we caught one of their reps trying to steal a set of manuals and DVD’s from our display.

I became an EAA member in 1989. I have met Paul Poberesney in person many times. I am hugely appreciative of the work he did started the EAA. I didn’t always see eye to eye with everything he did or said. But I would like to say that in hindsight, I think the EAA under his leadership would never have engaged in things like quietly accepting the presence and money of the Peoples Republic of China.  Paul had faults, but he understood that the EAA was made largely of people who came from middle class manufacturing jobs, and if you sat by while their jobs were sold out, the core of the EAA would decline.

What is the moral of this story? You have to be your own hero, make your own way, there is no knight in a shining affordable airplane showing up for you. Traditional US GA companies long ago gave up on marketing products to people who worked for a living.  The Chinese people they sold the company to are not interested in it either. If you work for a living, the airplane you own will come from your own shop. If the EAA management inside the “Oshkosh bubble” has forgotten what made the EAA great, don’t let this concern you. Airventure is one week of the year. It is worth going to at least once.  There will be a small number of companies there, us included, who still care about affordable planes for people who work for a living. Come and learn something.

When you head home, you can leave the illusion of “the Mecca of Aviation” behind. The center of your world of homebuilding belongs to where ever your small workshop is located, and you represent 100% of the membership there. Focus on your actual goals, not the ones you are told to have. The first 10 years of the EAA were 1953-63. Virtually every plane was the craftsmanship of a middle class individual. everyone was to be a builder or an aviator, the organization was founded on the principle of “Learn build and fly”, nowhere in there is it saying you should be a spectator while wealthy people fly things built in police states. Aerodynamics have not changed since 1953. Physics Chemistry and gravity are all the same. Grass strips on sunny days are the same. there are more than 10,000 small airports in the US, and thankfully, most of them are unchanged since 1953. Air, clouds and weather are all the same. The fundamental human desire to create with your own hands, and master with your brain and skills an aircraft that moves your heart is absolutely the same as it was in 1953. This weekend, at countless airports all over America, you can go out and experience the exact great moments that aviators did in 1953.

The major thing that has changed the most in the last 60 years is the one that matters the least: The management of the aviation organizations and the journalists they own. Those people would tell you that you desperately need them in your life to experience aviation, that they are there to protect it for you, interpret it for you, provide you with opinions and perspectives they want you to have. It’s a joke, they need you and your money, but you don’t need them at all.  The sooner you see this is the sooner you understand that you are 100% in charge of your destiny in homebuilding, and that you can experience the same great moments in flight that others who came before you did.

Today, one person could decide to quit every aviation organization that fails to represent him, never read a book or magazine printed after 1980, never attend a fly in with more than 250 people again, and get his information directly from other experienced builders. Another person could keep on going to airshows that highlighted things he can look at but never afford. He can read about “his” organization defending flying rights, rights they offer him no affordable option of exercising. One path is about taking charge of your life, the other is about drifting, daydreaming and hoping. Choose carefully, it’s your life we are speaking of. -ww.


The China Pavilion is returning to EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh this year!  This year we have another great opportunity to explore the market potential and business opportunities in the fastest growing aviation market in the world! We invite you to stop by and meet with our Chinese delegates who are eager to learn and actively seeking business opportunities in general aviation. Many are attending the show with the purpose of finding a teaming partner in GA operation and manufacturing! We will be giving our presentation on the China aviation market at 10AM on Monday (29th) and Tuesday (30th), and all delegates will be available to meet with you to discuss new business opportunities in China. It does not matter if you are an operator or manufacturer, there are many great opportunities available this year! Please do not miss this opportunity to learn more about China market and how to expand your business with the right teaming partner in China. China Pavilion is located at booth number 440 and 441, in between HAI Heli-Center and FAA tower. Hope to see you at our presentation.Best Regards, Francis Chao Managing Director

Uniworld, LLC

Corvair College #27, Nov. in SC, Registration open.


Registration for Corvair College #27 is now open. This will be our 4th College at Barnwell SC. P.F. Beck and crew are the local hosts November 8th-10th.  This is traditionally the largest college of the year, has a large number of planes and running engines. The event has excellent facilities in as centrally located on the East Coast.

If you go to our main website, you can read about Corvair Colleges #19, 21 and 24, which were all held at Barnwell. P,F. and crew know how to be the local hosts of a great event. If you are looking for the “full immersion” experience in the Corvair movement, #27 is your event. I have already spoken with Dan and Rachel Weseman, Mark from Falcon and Roy, and they are planning on attending this college.  We will have a good number of returning college grads to help out also. Barnwell colleges are marked by fun, but it is also a very productive setting, and we have had dozens of builders get their first run in at these colleges.

In less than a week, P.F. and I will both be giving forums at Brodhead, the annual Pietenpol gathering. P.F. is well known in the Pietenpol community, and Colleges at his location are well attended, especially by Piet builders. We are setting a cap on 100 builders at CC#27. We have approached this number before, and since we are starting registration early, I expect the event to fill up. If you would like to attend, please take action now and register.

CC27 –


The Event also has it’s own Face Book Page:

We will have more updates after Oshkosh.

Above, Randy Bush runs his engine at Corvair College #19 in Barnwell. If you have not met him, go back to last weeks stories and read about how his aircraft just passed 500 hours of flight time. Attending a college is often a turning point in a builders experience. If you are not making the kind of progress you would like, come to a college and find the experience, motivation and friends you have been missing.  Then I can write a story about your plane reaching the 500 hour mark and pull out an old picture of your engine running on our test stand at a college.  No airplane is built in a day, but to get one done, you must decide that this day will be different, take action and make choices that are proven to make progress. The choice is yours. Time will pass whether or not you set goals and reach them. People who take action are far happier than those that just wish they had.-ww

Corvair College #26, Sept. in MO., Registration open


 Corvair College #26 will be in Mexico MO, at the Zenith factory, September 18-20, Just before September Open House, so that builders can take in both events.  We will have several Corvair powered Zeniths on hand. Note that Sebastien welcomes all builders, not just Zenith builders. I have already contacted Mark from Falcon, and he will be on hand, and we will have good number of builders from previous colleges at this event. The 48 hour nature of the event means that it will be fast paced, but this will be a full College with engine tear downs, assembly and test runs. In addition we have a number of Corvair powered planes planning on being on  hand. You do not have to own a Corvair engine to attend the event. If you are just seriously thinking about the Corvair, I encourage you to attend and learn more. Colleges are excellent settings to learn more details and evaluate the engine’s advantages for your project.

There is no registration fee for this College. The simple reason for this is because we will have the builders on hand source their own food and beverages. At other Colleges, the fee goes to providing the food and drinks. In Mexico, we have elected to bypass this and focus on the mechanical side of the event. This also allows some flexibility on builders’ arrival times at the event. We are encouraging all the builders at the College to plan on staying for the Zenith open house on Friday and Saturday. I am opening this registration before we head to Oshkosh to give regular readers a chance to sign up early. I am going to cap the total at 60 builders, and I expect this to fill up before the end of Oshkosh. Please note that while there is no fee, registration is required, and I do have to know you are coming in advance. I will be glad to speak with every single person on hand at the open house on Saturday, Technical planning, safety supervision and space limitations require us to have a finite limit on attendance. If you are planning on attending take action today. Here is the link:


CC26 –


The Event also has it’s own Face Book Page:


We will have more updates on the college just after Oshkosh

Above, an illustration of how long we have had a good working relationship with the Zenith Factory. This photo is from our 2006 “Corvair Day” we had at the factory….Seven years ago doesn’t seem all that long, but get a look at my short hair cut and non-gray hair! Grace and I bought our Zenith 601XL kit at Oshkosh 2003 and began flying it in the spring of 2004. Many people headed to Oshkosh will be attracted to companies that are offering “new and exciting” engines for their planes. They are fun to read about, but I can make a great case that very few of these companies survive more than 36 months. The fact that we have been working with Zenith builders for 10 years, and Corvair builders since 1989, should prove we are in this for the long run. Less than 20% of the engine companies working in 2003 are still around, and less than 5% of the ones from 1989 are still here. Corvairs have already been flying for 53 years, a little less than half of the history of powered flight. Old and proven serves real builders. New and exciting appeals to spectators. Will you be in the arena or in the bleachers? Choose wisely and then act. -ww

Corvair Power Parking Row at Oshkosh.


We are a week away from Oshkosh. 601 XL builder and Corvair event organizer extrodinare Ken Pavlou would like to remind pilots of Corvair powered planes that he has reserved a row right in the home built parking, right next to the two commercial displays, ours  and the Panther booth. If you are thinking about flying in with your Corvair powered plane, please take the time to read this, and it would be a very good idea to check in with Ken directly. Here is a direct link to the story:

Corvair Power Row in homebuilt parking at Oshkosh 2013.

Above, Ken with his Corvair, in a photo I took five years ago while making a house call at his place in CT. His aircraft is 99% done today.

Above, A number of the Corvair pilots that flew to Oshkosh two years ago standing with me in out display tent. They are Shayne McDaniel, Woody Harris and Andy Elliott. If you are flying in with your Corvair powered plane you will need a 8×10 sign that says “HBP” on one side and “Corvair”  on the other.

Pietenpol Motor Mounts, P/N 4201(C)


In the morning, I am heading to the powder coater, to drop off a dozen Corvair mounts that are heading to Brodhead and Oshkosh with us. We will pick the up and pack them in just before we head north.

In with this group of mounts are two of our high thrust line mounts for Pietenpols. You can read the story of their development and construction by cliking on this story from last November:

Pietenpol Products, Motor mounts, Gear and Instalation Components.

Grace has also updated our catalog page on these mounts, to make it easier to order one. I will have these on display at Brodhead, one is already spoken for, going to Mark Chouinard, the other is still available. You need not be headed to Brodhead to pick it up, if you would like the mount, we will gladly ship it to you before we leave. Click on the link below for more information:


From Corvair College #25: Pietenpol builder and veteran of several Colleges Dave Aldrich with a high thrust line Pietenpol motor mount we made for him. It is powder coated white. He saved $80 on shipping by picking it up in person. These mounts are popular, builders like Kevin Purtee, Terry Hand and Bob ‘early builder’ Dewenter already have one of these new high thrust line mounts. The design also benefits from the weight and Balance testing we did on 30 Pietenpols in the last 36 months. The mount is 3″ longer than the one shown in BHP’s 1967 mount drawing. The compensates for today’s larger pilots.-ww

Mail Sack, 7/13/14

Builders, Here is a sample of the mail:


On the story of: Zenith 601/650 Motor mounts, P/N 4201(A)

Zenith 601XL builder/flyer Phil Maxson writes:

“I think you may be a bit to hard on salespeople here.  You may not like them, but most businesses find them very useful, or they would get rid of the sales department altogether to save costs.  That doesn’t seem to be happening.

One of the jobs of a salesman is to understand the customers needs and supply that need.  What’s unethical about that?  Of course there are unethical sales people, and in a highly specialized industry like aviation, an ethical salesperson has to be very well informed.  I’ve found many a very helpful sales person in aviation businesses.”

Phil, My negative comments about salesmen are directed to raise the ‘buyer beware’ element in people new to homebuilding, and make them aware that journalists, in the role of consumer watchdogs, effectively do not exist in experimental aviation. Example: 10 years ago, “Daytona Cub” was a new cub marketed by people based at Spruce Creek, my airport where I was president of EAA-288. The man selling the kits knew nothing of building planes, but he talked a good line, that was often repeated verbatim by the press that he wined and dined. He publicly said many times “Our fuselages are made of .057 wall tubing which is 10% heavier but 40% stronger” Several obvious lies starting with they don’t make tubing in that wall thickness. Yet, I was the only person who ever pointed out that he was 100% used car salesman and 0% homebuilder. Look them up on line, plenty of people offer glowing testimonials, yet they were out of business in a few years. They often co-promoted a turbine called an ATP, which also got great reviews from journalists that had never seen it run. This engine investment later becomes Innodyn, collects investors and goes bankrupt. Today you can buy the URL “”for $25 and restart the whole scam all over again. I am quite sure that “journalists” would fall all over themselves to write good things about it as long as it was shiny and had a grey haired guy in a polo shirt to stand in front of it and spout ‘facts’ they could put to print. There is nothing wrong with knowledgeable people promoting good things, even if they are speaking of or selling things that they personally can not make with their own hands, just as long as the things they are saying happen to be true.

Some homebuilders believe that they are not likely to be targets of the rip off people because they have modest incomes and small budgets to spend. Let me correct this misunderstanding now.  Many rip off people know that if they came out with a $450,000 kit for the uber-wealthy, that if they didn’t deliver, the wealthy have lawyers on retainer, and will use them. Conversely they know lifting $4,500 from 100 times as many people requires more work, but most people with this kind of budget have never hired a lawyer in their life, and will walk away from that size  loss, and in most cases, will not even mention it to anyone else because they feel stupid for getting taken. If you think I am wrong about this, let me point out that Jim Bedee is still alive. Look up ‘Dream wings” and learn about this tactic. I was with Steve Rahm at the Dream wings presentation at SnF 1995, and Steve politely pointed out that the claimed stall speeds, g-loadings and Va speeds mathematically could not work, and he asked which one of the three numbers wasn’t right. Answer: Physics didn’t apply to their plane. The journalists present like the answer and called the design ‘ground breaking’. I guess that is the correct description for any plane that physics doesn’t apply to. This stuff is in high gear at Oshkosh. A few years ago, a new S-LSA  amphibious aircraft from Europe shows up. I was in the booth next to them. Plane arrives on trailer the day before the show; At the press conference I watch 20 journalists be told that it ‘flies great, flew in without problem, flight testing going great’. Gus Warren looks at it from 40 feet away and says, ‘That’s funny, it has no N-numbers”. Neither did it have an airworthiness cert. If you knew anything about aircraft building it was easy to see that it had no brake lines and many other details. But they did have shiny paint and salesmen, and this was all it took to fool journalists, who had never built a single aircraft part with their own hand that had ever flown. Offering these warnings is of little effect, because people rarely heed them, and the backlash is that I am often painted as a malcontent for doing so. The industry doesn’t like people that can’t ” go along to get along” and keep their mouth shut, and for the most part, neither do the majority of homebuilders who want to believe that physics defying airplanes exist simply because they want one.-ww.

International Aviator Tom Graziano writes:

“William, I’ve had more than one salesman try tell me their welding is done by an “FAA certified welder”. The look on their face when I informed them that no such animal exists was priceless  I’ve also had several pilots and A&Ps (who should know better) try to tell me about “FAA certified welders”….I politely spell it out for them – A W S

Builder Pete Chmura writes:

“Coffee Stout will change your life.”


On the story of: Randy Bush’s Pietenpol hits 500 hours.

Ken and Pat Caldwell write:


DAR/ builder Jon Ross writes:

“Dear William: I have never met Randy Bush but I have met a few like him as I travel around doing DAR work. Although I would rather be working on my own projects, I realized that I enjoy the DAR work because it gives me a chance to meet people like Randy. As you know, few people undertake airplane projects, and the chance of meeting special people such as you describe in Randy is greatly increased when traveling as a DAR. The special people are out there, and I try to stay in touch with them long after my job is done as a DAR because I am simply interested in where they want to go next…

Your philosophy with respect to creating things with your own hands is just as I have found it to be. I have a shop that is 45 minutes from where I live, but only 10 minutes from where I work. Naturally I spend a great deal of time in the evenings working in the shop. Sometimes, after a stressful day I have difficulty getting started. But I force myself on those days to change into my work clothes and get to it. It is never long before I am completely content working away at whatever the task at hand happens to be. Weekends are sometimes tough, because I am often called upon to assist friends with their airplanes, which I do with the full realization that I am really enjoying what I am doing. I am a loner, and a few years older than you (57 now) and I realize that for the most part I simply want to be left alone to work in my shop. When I travel around, I realize that there are people nearby who feel just as you and I do, in fact, many more exist than I once thought. I really do hope that these philosophical discussions will convince some of those sitting on the fence to get started on a life changing airplane project. Best, Jon Ross Northport, NY”

Zenith 650 builder Becky Shipman writes:

“William, Thank you for this thoughtful post.  I really identified with your last statement.  I have faced some very down times in my life, and difficult decisions.  Lately I think more about the times when I feel happy, and they have to do with certain types of experiences.  Flying does that for me – the combination of using knowledge and experience and physical feeling to feel competent.  I have felt that way winding up mountain roads on my bike at high speeds, and shaping metal on mills and lathes.  And there are times when I get into a groove when I’m building the plane, and feel competent and creative.  I occasionally feel that at work, but it’s more and more rare.  Sometimes I feel that when I get a concept across to one of my kids, like when I taught my son to drive stick.  The biggest thing I learned in some of my more extensive changes in life is that it is OK to take a calculated risk.  That’s what flying and homebuilding is to me.  I  think I will be happier when I feel I can move on from the breadwinner role to a life where I can make and teach and fly.  I turn 55 in a couple of months – burning my hand and having my back go out have given me the feeling that life is finite – and I want to have my experiences while I still can.  So for all that you feel you are flawed, we all are, and your example of pursuing your dream is as much a gift as your development of the Corvair airplane engine.  I’m guessing that might be part of what Grace sees in you, and ScoobE will always tolerate you as long as Grace does….Becky”

builder “Jacksno” writes:

“Excellent FC philosophy and model thereof.  Do  look forward to more than a story if possible,  Something more like at least a 5 part story in 100 hour (50 much better) increments that documents the history of decision making, results analysis, decision making, etc. This would be invaluable for us tychos. Go Fly Corvair.”


On the story of: Pietenpol Box Spar Construction, 6/27/13

Builder Allen Oliver writes:

“William: I can see where people perhaps may be misled concerning spar placement and loading by not examining all the variables.  On a moderately cambered airfoil straight and level in a low-speed environment, the center of pressure MIGHT be around the 40% chord.  If the aim is to even out the spar loads, placing one at 15% (-25%) and the other at 65% (+25%) could at first glance seem to do the job.  The pitfall is that the actual center of pressure location is highly variable, according to the airfoil shape.  More than that, IT MOVES.  As the angle of attack increases, the center of pressure moves forward.  This puts more loading on the forward spar. In addition, the lift loads are no longer perpendicular to the original bending axis. Just some extraneous thoughts for the mix. Regards, Allen Oliver”

Builder John Edwards writes:

“On the subject of spar loads, you do not need to be an engineer, nor have a degree in aeronautics to know the front spar carries most of the load. Just a little common sense.
Stick your hand out the window of your car and play airplane. You can feel most of the load is up near the front of your hand by your fingertips. It is that simple.”

Pietenpol builder Harold Bickford writes:

“William, Just for the exercise I calculated out the weight estimates of the various spar types (full span) for both Douglas Fir and Spruce. I used 34#/cu ft for DF, 28#/cu ft for spruce and 15# for a 4′x8″ sheet of 1/8″ birch ply. Actual weights of course can vary. The numbers below are for Spruce and Spruce/ply for the UK type In terms of weight the 3/4″ solid plank runs about 40lbs for front and rear sets. The routed 1″ beam would be about 2# lighter (calculated) while the UK type spar would be calculated at about 2# heavier. Clearly fabrication of the 3/4″ blank is easiest and it works. The cost differential was around $140 for materials. It is hard to beat what has been tried and proven though a properly engineered box spar or the extruded aluminum type is interesting to consider. -Harold”

Builder Doug Wright writes:

“William,It has been awhile since I have studied the subject, but one of the things I remember that has not been mentioned in the discussion about the design of Pietenpol spars is the distribution of pressure on the wing.  As I am sure you are aware, these pressures vary with angle of attack and are used in the calculations to determine the worst-case loadings on individual spars.  Why I mention this is because another variable that affects spar design is that these pressure distributions will be different from one airfoil to the next.  With both Mr. Pietenpol’s original design and the Riblett 612 airfoil being popular these days, a few years ago I ran the profiles for both through X-Foil and, as I recall, the pressure distributions were similar but not exactly the same.  Based on these software-derived numbers, I remember that after performing the calculations for the front spar worst-case loadings, there is a 4-5% difference depending on which airfoil is used.  Something like 75% of total load for one compared to 80% for the other.  Don’t ask me which was which or even if these numbers are accurate because I don’t have the calculations in front of me.  Would this make much difference in the load factor of a wing?  Not much, but I think it is important builders know there is a difference and if they choose to experiment with some other airfoil it may make a significant difference.

In looking at the cross sections of the traditional Piet spars and the PFA approved Jim Wills design there is not much difference in the moment of inertia of the solid portion of the spars where the lift struts and attach/cabane fittings connect.  Where a form factor must be applied when performing stress calculations on the rest of the spar, that is a different matter.  But, it looks to me that Mr. Wills moved the lift strut attach points outboard to reduce the length of the portion of the wing that is cantilevered.  This, of course, would reduce the bending moment on the wing at the lift strut attach points and would allow for the PFA approved 1200 Lb. gross weight with the same load factor as Mr. Pietenpol’s original, lower gross weight design.  Mr. Pietenpol’s empirically derived design was absolute genius but Mr. Wills must have recognized that people now days are a lot heavier and want to carry more fuel thus the airframe should be modified to accommodate those facts.  If someone builds Mr. Pietenpol’s original lift strut attach point design, they need to be cognizant of the fact that the load factor of the airplane is reduced at the heavy gross weights people are flying them. Doug Wright Stillwater, OK”


More mail on various topics:

Zenith builder in Haiti  Howard Horner writes:

“Hi William. Just wanted to drop a note to let you know I have entered the game, but must confess it is not exactly as you recommend. (1# bad.) I bought a1963 145CU IN core complete with turbo that I cannot use, for $150. (#2 bad) Traded it to a happy Corvair guy for a big basket of “cherry Picked” 110HP block parts and 95 heads with smaller quench zone. (Interested in the Avgas option w/ possible future turbo or Supercharger.) He promises to provide any incidentals we may have missed and I am anxiously waiting to receive your disassemble manual to learn what I did wrong and correct any deficiencies. The vindicating circumstance is that the turbo motor came in an antique red wagon that is selling on Ebay for $150-$300 plus shipping, so this transaction actually works in my building budget… basically zero! Be assured I am diligently studying your methods and as a result will no doubt benefit from a superior assembly, but equally important, I am 100% committed to supporting you guys that have invested so much by purchasing the Dan bearing, Falcon head work, and all the Gold parts.  Thanks, Howard”


Parting Shot, from Zenith 650 Builder Brian Manlove:

“William – I am finally back in my shop working on the 650.  I have read all of your posts and the one that prompted me to respond was the one about your brother.  I have a similar, but different, take on this – my *younger* brother Magnus.  In the last 25 years, we have not seen each other much, him with 3 kids, me with 3 kids, always living 1200 miles away from each other, and both of us always too busy with work. As you know, I was in a pretty bad motorcycle accident this past December 2.  I was in ICU for three weeks.  Magnus came to Austin to see me in the hospital – and because he was staying at my home he saw what I called “my workshop.”  I remember him coming to the hospital to see me every day for a week – but I don’t remember saying much other than “hello.”  I was in pretty bad shape and on a lot of pain meds.   A couple of days after he went home I went into an episode of A-fib.  The doctors found clogged arteries and scheduled me for a triple bypass operation, as soon as I “recovered” from my other significant injuries. When I got home, it took another month to recover enough to get the bypass operation. That happened on Feb 8 and it took another 2 months to recover completely from that. My workshop is a double garage that had been converted into a recording studio by the previous owner.  There was a wall that split the space into 2 rooms.  I had knocked out a span of wall wide enough to get a workbench in there for wing building – but with all of my tools, parts, shipping crates, and way too much accumulated junk, it was really not functional at all. When I got home from my heart surgery, Magnus called me and told me he was going to come down to Austin for a week in June to help me “fix the workshop.” Magnus came and spent a week.  What he did for me was absolutely fantastic.  He spent 16 hours a day working… and pushing me… we ripped out old walls, we re-wired, we built shelving, we built workbenches, he helped me decide what to toss and what to keep, and then the final touch – he surprised me with a beautiful epoxy paint job on the floor.  He gave me a gift that is beyond words. I now have an absolutely fantastic first-class workshop. All he wants in return is to see me finish my airplane. There is nothing like a brother. – Brian Manlove”

Zenith 601/650 Motor mounts, P/N 4201(A)


It’s 3 am here and we are still up, just part of the fun of prepping for Oshkosh. This is the time of night when you take a break from answering email, wander over to the refrigerator and stare inside. The dilemma: Is it too late to drink beer or is it too early to drink coffee? Answer: both, but I have just enough brain cells still working to write a web update on motor mounts…….

In two weeks we will be at Oshkosh. There will be many people there offering motor mounts for sale for every kind of plane. Polo shirt clad salesmen will make loud claims about how great the mounts they are selling are. They will hit all the welding buzz words they have heard, and they will sound knowledgeable to people who know nothing about welding. The vast majority of these salesmen have never even tried welding, and they couldn’t put down an airworthy bead an inch long even if their life depended on it.

That last sentence is a typical WW, 3 am, overstatement isn’t it? Jeez, when is some Oshkosh salesmen’s life going to depend on his ability to demonstrate a skill he talks about but doesn’t posses? Reality Check: The salesman’s life doesn’t depend on the welding he is promoting and selling…….only yours does.

Grace has redone our Zenith 601/650 catalog page on these mounts, which are part number 4201(A) in the new numbering system. If you were thinking about getting one of these from us, review the new information. We have seven of these mounts on the back porch ready for the powder coater. In a few days I am going to take them in and have them done for sale at Oshkosh. If you would like one, would like to save the shipping and have a particular finish in mind, follow the link, place an order, or feel free to send us a note or call. We will be glad to cover anything you would like.

Below, a photo of Vern and I outside my hangar 18 months ago. We will both be at Oshkosh.  100% of all the welded products we sell are done by the two of us. At the show, ask us any question on welding you like, we only have 74 years of personal, first hand, welding experience between us. We can probably cover it better than the polo shirt clad salesmen. If you got into experimental aviation just to buy stuff, then any salesman will do just fine for you. If you got into experimental aviation to learn, develop your own skills and craftsmanship and make things with your own hands, then who you work with really matters. You can’t become and old school homebuilder / motor head by buying things from salesmen. They have nothing to teach you. While I will be very glad to sell you a motor mount, I am very glad to share all the detailed information on how it was made, and the materials and processes. Yes, I sell things, but first and foremost, I am a homebuilder with a mission to share what we have learned.

From our website in 2011: “For the greater part of his years on earth, Vern has been a welder. In the world of experimental aircraft, when a company wants to  sound impressive, they always tout that their welders have “Built race cars.” I welded the frames of lots of NHRA legal dragsters before I was 21, and this experience taught me nothing about aerospace welding. Vern has welded countless race cars together, but that  has nothing to do with why we utilize his skills making Corvair parts. What counts is the little piece of paper on the orange board.”

“If you look closely, it shows that Vern has every aerospace material welding rating in every thickness recognized by his employer, the United States Naval Aviation Depot. In this facility inside NAS Jacksonville, Vern has welded every kind of material that goes into modern combat aircraft. This includes titanium, Hastelloy X and magnesium. While some people can weld this when it is new in a purged box, Vern can weld things like the inside of a jet’s burner can while looking through one bleed hole and feeding the rod through another.”


Below is a photo of Woody Harris’s 601XL, and an important story about his experience. Woody is “Our man on the West Coast”, based in Northern California at Vacaville. Note that his plane is pictured in North Carolina. I welded the engine mount that is on his plane. It was done in the same fixture that we used to make the ones resting on the back porch, 10 feet from where I am typing this.

From our website in 2010: “In the above photo, Woody Harris’ 2,850cc Zenith 601B sits at the end of the ramp in North Carolina at First Flight Airport with the Wright Brothers Monument in the background. This brings his aircraft to the end of his first leg of a coast-to-coast and return flight. I believe that this is a pretty classy way for Dad to show up at his daughter’s house on the East Coast. Although Woody has spent a lifetime in the mechanical world predominantly driving race cars in both Europe and America, it’s worth noting that he’s been in aviation less than five years. While he certainly would have thought of it before, it was at the urging of his daughter who is an ATP, that he explore some adventures in flying. I mention this because if you’re out there reading this and you’re thinking that you might be too late in the game to have your own adventures, you’re quite wrong. If you don’t have a pilots license, you have never built an airplane before, and you’re 63 years old, you are at the exact spot where Woody was four years ago. Yes his mechanical background gave him a leg up, but it plays a smaller role than most people suspect. His determined character and his quest to learn new things were much bigger factors in his favor. If you had been standing next to me at Oshkosh when Woody arrived, and watched him hop out of the airplane and talk for 4 minutes straight about the previous days flying, including sentences like “We timed it perfectly because Old Faithful went off just as we flew by,” you would note that all the hours that you’re putting in your shop are well worth the adventures that lie in your future. Go out there tonight and get one evening closer to writing the same chapter in your own story that Woody has written in his. (I have Woody looking into his logbooks, but I am pretty sure he has flown a Corvair powered plane in more states than any other person. I don’t bring this up as a point of competition, I just want builders at home to understand that with good judgment and training, you can go a long way, even if you have not yet written in the 500th hour in your logbook.)


Randy Bush’s Pietenpol hits 500 hours.


An email arrived last night from Randy Bush, saying that he just crossed over the 500 hour mark on his Pietenpol. If you are new to homebuilding you probably understand that this is a significant milestone, but if you have been around homebuilding for a long time, you really understand how big this is.

Getting started, we all believe that we will fly about 250 hours a year in our creation, right after it is done in 10-12 months. Dreams are made of these thoughts, and that is good, but flying planes are made of dreams and persistence. I am going to say that less than one in ten homebuilts of all kinds gets to 500 hours. This includes all weather cross country planes like RV’s. Combine this with the fact 80% of kits and 90% of plans are never completed, then you begining to see Rany’s accomplishment in perspective.

If the odds above don’t sound good, you are correct. But success in homebuilding isn’t a random a random lottery ticket drawing, it is a series of good decisions, bonded together with persistence. If you know and exercise this, the odds don’t apply to you. The reason why I spend a lot of time speaking of philosophy, is because it is the root of all good decision making in homebuilding. People who have never spent 5 minutes considering the “why?” element, and developing their own answer to this question, have a low success rate because they are not making good decisions, nor developing their own persistence.

Last week, I was speaking with well-known Pietenpol builder and Cherry Grove trophy holder Kevin Purtee. Randy’s name came up, and Kevin paused the conversation to make the point, “That guy is a first class human being.” I feel the same way. When people like to complain that the EAA doesn’t have enough old-school home builders anymore, I agree, but Randy Bush is always my first example to point out that we still have some that are every bit as good as they ever were.

Randy is going to fly his Pietenpol to Brodhead this year, and go on to Oshkosh with it also. He has just reworked his cowling and made some detail changes, like the ones in this story: Cooling with J-3 style cowls. (Pietenpols, Cubs, Biplanes, etc) and he now reports that even at full power on a hot day, his plane will only hit 325 degrees on the cht. (that is 250 below GM’s red line). This is running on the border of being too cool, an issue that some Corvairs can have, but very few other alternative engines ever have to be concerned about, as they are concerned with melt downs. I plan on getting a number of photos of his plane at the shows, and we can have a whole story about his mechanical installation, but to my view this is secondary to the real story, namely Randy getting to 500 hours because of the choices he has made and the persistence he has exercised.

Going to Brodhead or Oshkosh will be an excellent chance for many people new to homebuilding to meet Randy in person. You will find him to be a modest and humble guy. I have long held that negativity is an infectious disease, and you should not spend your aviation hours in the company of people who have it. Conversely, I believe that the perspectives, examples and mindset of successful builders like Randy Bush are also contagious, and spending even an hour in their company can make a big difference in the positive path of any homebuilder. Below I share a few stories that I have written about in the past that give a glimpse of why Kevin Purtee, myself and countless others hold Randy in very high regard. Come, met him in person and add yourself to this group.

Above Randy at Brodhead 2012, From last years story: “Randy Bush offers his testimonial on Corvairs and Piets in combination. He now has more than 420 hours on his plane. This is a lot for an open cockpit aircraft based in Tennessee. Many Corvair people met Randy at previous Colleges. Both he and I have had many conversations about how homebuilding and developing and exercising your craftsmanship in aircraft building is a refuge of sanity and stability in our personal lives.  We have both noted that when many people hit a rough patch in life, one of the first things they think of doing is quitting their aircraft project. Either of us, and everyone else who has finished an aircraft under challenging circumstances, would gladly offer that selling your project is the last thing you should do. When little else is going right, and few people are on your side, hours spent in your shop will show you that you still control much of your life, and the opinions of you held by others are often worthless. In your own shop, your are in charge, and any hour spent building something with your own hands is well spent and the things you learn can never be taken from you. Go back and read the Sterling Hayden quote about what men really need to lead meaningful lives.”

Above,Randy’s aircraft at Brodhead .Randy Bush of TN. at Brodhead with Miss Le’Bec (it is a combination of his girls’ names). His aircraft was seven years in the making. A consistent work of craftsmanship, the plane’s creation spanned both easy and hard years in Randy’s life. Many people new to homebuilding think that it is something you do if life is treating you great and you’re rolling in dough. Here is reality: The most successful builders I know understand that hours spent in your own shop, creating things with your own hands, is a vital part of a worthwhile life, and that this reality will be most evident at the hardest of times. Learning to make things is a crucial investment in your own sanity. Does it surprise anyone that really happy people always have a way of being creative? The plane has more than 400 hours on it. It has a 100 hp Corvair with electric start and a Roy 5th bearing


I wrote the words below last year. If you are a homebuilder that has spent a lot of hours reading this site and thinking about the potential of homebuilding in your life, let me share this single prime element of homebuilding, the part of it many homebuilders find to be the most rewarding and crucial element of it. Magazines and websites all want to tell you that homebuilding is about buying things and having stuff. That is a pathetically shallow perspective, and is at the root of why people quit when the have great expenditure but feel no personal reward. If you really want to get to the core of homebuilding, then start looking at its potential to change your own life, that it is a serious arena where you can develop and test your skills in a setting that matters, that you control, and has rewards that few other challenges can match.


“If you have never met me, but read this and think that I am charmed with myself, you got it all wrong. I know countless humans who are better people than I. They are kinder, smarter, and harder working. I can’t sing nor dance, I learn slowly, and I can’t stand to hear my recorded voice nor see my image on film. If I was once handsome, all trace of it is gone along with my uncorrected eyesight. I can be a conversational bore, and I deeply wish I had given my parents more moments to be proud of me. At 50 I look back on my life with a very critical eye and stand on the far side of a very wide gulf from the heroes of my youth. Even our dog, impeccably honest and loyal as canines are, Loves Grace and only tolerates me.

Honest evaluation leads to harsh thoughts like this. I spend a lot of time alone and have long bouts of insomnia, which can lead to thinking about things excessively. But the secret I would like to share with anyone who at times feels the same way, is that I have a sanctuary where I am insulated from much of my self-criticism, and a have a front, where at 50, I am much better on than I thought possible in my youth. When I am building things with my hands in my shop, I rarely feel poor. Although I now need glasses to do any close work, and my hands have lost a lot of dexterity, I am a far better craftsman than I ever was in my youth. I am not a great craftsman, but over a very long time I have worked to develop these elements in my life, and I compete with no one except who I was last year. While all else fades, these things flourish. It is a gift I am most thankful for.

I was aware of this in my youth, but it did not come into focus until 1999, the worst year of my life. (getting burned  was 2001, but it was a picnic compared to ’99.)  Feeling dangerously low, I sought the council of a guy I knew. He had come back from such a year. He is an artist, working as an incredibly detailed wood carver. He tells me to forget everyone and everything else, go back to your tools and work with your hands. Give up your apartment, but never your hangar. Explore all the things you can’t forget, have stolen, give away or loose. At the moment, I was having a hard time picturing another week, and I asked him how long it took him. The thought with great care a slowly said “two, no really three..” I was jolted and blurted out “Three months?” he looked me in the eye and said “No. Years. It’s probably your only way out.” It turned out to be a painfully accurate prediction.

In the years since I have read letters or posts from many people in a tough spot, who have sold their project or tools. I often think their ship is sinking and they have just traded their life jacket for five more minutes on the deck. I have also met a number of successful builders who have said that when everything else in there lives was broken, they had a place of refuge in work and creation. Of the thousands of people I have met in aviation, these people are truly brothers, for we share the same salvation.”