26 Days until Corvair College #27’s registration closes.


Before we get into the coverage of CC#26, I need to point out that we are just 26 days away from the closing of Corvair College #27 registration. The link for signing up is below. If you know you would like to go, there is no point in putting of signing up. Keep in mind that the sign up has been open since before Oshkosh: it is half full already.

Above, our local host for corvair Collge #27 is P F Beck, seen above in his Pietenpol, in a shot taken by Grace in the front seat. This was at CC#19, the first of what is now four colleges held at Barnwell. We awarded PF the cherry Grove trophy as Corvair aviator of the year two years ago. The trophy will be awarded for the 6th time at this years event. While all the colleges are very good events with a strong emphasis on good times shared with friends, the Barnwell events have the strongest social side, the most planes on hand, and function as the reflective event looking back on the years progress.


For #26, I set the limit at 60 builders, but bumped this to 76 in the last week. I did this because I saw that half the people signed up were coming to observe and take notes, combined with 11 of the people attending being returning volunteers. I decided that table space and supervision, the limiting agents at #26 could withstand another 16 people. It was a good call, and worked out well. This said, let me caution procrastinators that this isn’t going to happen at Barnwell.  At #27, we are going to have a very high percentage of builders aiming to run engines, and builders at Barnwell have a fee to cover food and drinks that must be in place in advance. These two factors preclude me from making a command decision to increase registration numbers. This is why we say Barnwell has a ‘hard’ limit and closing date. Don’t miss out.  In speaking with 601/Corvair builder Ken Pavlou, (who handles all of the on-line registrations from an undisclosed location in CT.), we have decided to cut off the #27 sign up at midnight on October 20th, or when we reach 100 builders, which ever comes first.  If you are planning on attending #27, please let me encourage you to sign up for it early, and not to assume that we will have the sign up active until the last week as we have done in earlier years. The link is listed below:


CC27 – https://corvaircollege.wufoo.com/forms/corvair-college-27-registration/


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



Larry Hudson, Master Upholsterer, parts and core for sale


We have just returned from a very successful CC#26 and Zenith open house. It was a great time, and over the next few nights I am going to write up all of the stories and moments from the trip. For tonight, a simpler task to get back into daily writing and updates; Let me share a few notes on Corvair builder and friend Larry Hudson.

Larry is a master automotive upholster and top craftsman. He comes from a family that has worked this craft for several generations. After Oshkosh I dropped off the seats from our Wagabond at Larry’s shop in Indiana.  As I said then, it is no average production shop, the main car they we doing at the time was a 1959 Caddy Eldorado coupe in coral pink (a factory color).  Larry is a guy you can trust with a unique interior in a car worth more than $75K. As seen below, he also does outstanding work on aircraft that are worth a small fraction of that.  Larry stopped by CC#26 to drop of the seats. Larry knows that I like dirt simple aircraft with no frills, but said “Just trust me to do something good and simple…I will make it look old school and appropriate.”  All I did was tell him the colors I painted the plane (Insignia blue and Nevada silver), mention that I like very firm seats, and he did the rest. The price was reasonable, the quality outstanding, and I think they are very tasteful. I sat in it today, and it was great.


Above, the seats back in our plane in our hangar. Our Wagabond started out life as a 1964 Piper Colt, and although it is highly modified, it retains the lightweight, folding, independently adjustable, quickly removable seats of the late model PA-22’s.


The seats are half vinyl half cloth, with custom made beading made from the cloth. The computer is making the cloth look shiny but in person it isn’t.  I am always glad to mention the craftsmanship of builders we know, and this case is no different.  If you are looking for interior work on your plane, give Larry a call and talk it over with him, he is a very friendly guy and a first class craftsman. His number is 317-965-2428.

Also, Larry wanted to mention that he has a fuselage for sale. It is a 1952 Piper PA-20 pacer, with the tail and landing gear, a mint set of Cleveland wheels and brakes and many other small parts. Like many of us, Larry has too many projects, and he is trimming his aircraft herd down to his own PA-22-108 and his Corvair powered Fokker D-VIII. The Pacer fuselage is identical in size to our Wagabond. Larry has a set of Wag Aero plans to go with it.  The FAA frowns upon directly using parts from previously certified aircraft in homebuilts today, but people still do it with the assistance of a friendly and partially blind DAR (this is when they overlook things but can still see the color Green) If you are interested in the fuselage and parts give Larry a call he is asking $2,000. It would save a lot of work on a Wagabond project.

Also, Larry has a Corvair core engine in good shape for sale. The top end has late model 110 heads, but the bottom of the engine is from a 140hp model and has a factory nitride crank. If this crank is in good shape, you can have it cleaned, magnafluxed and polished, mate it with a Gen 1 Dan bearing and use it directly, a bargain in building and a time saver. He is selling the Core for $375, and it is complete. He is planning on traveling to CC#27 in Barnwell in November, so if you buy it but live on the East Coast, perhaps he can meet you at the college. -ww

Blast From the Past, Corvair College #4, 2003. Above, Larry Hudson and his son Cody working on the Corvair that is in their Fokker D-VIII today. Over the years Larry and his family have been to 10 Colleges. Long known as a good source of core engines in the Midwest, he has often pointed out that he has found more than 60 within 40 miles of his house. Further proof that Corvairs are still plentiful everywhere.

Sunday, a long day at the airport.


Before any major airshow or a college we end up working a lot of hours in preparation. With our departure for CC#26 and the Zenith open house just 7.5 days away, things are in high gear here. This doesn’t mean frantic work, it means steady effort over long hours, seven days a week. I find what we do rewarding for many reasons, so I never consider long hours a problem. The setting of our home and work is a little grass strip in the woods, something of a little paradise in a rural setting, shared with 60 other aviators.  I have lived and worked in many different places over the years, but I find this place very good antidote to the pressures of society, consumerism and all the trash that invades your life if you’re not paying attention. Below are a few photos that give a feel of a working weekend at our place.


Above, Gratuitous dog photo.  Grace sits with ScoobE before his last haircut. Neighbors Alex and Debbie sit with Kirby and Phoebe. Alex’s hangar is the late night gathering spot at our airport. He is a master chief and grills out most nights at 10pm, always making enough for whomever stops in. You can work a very long day, and still not be late for dinner and socializing at Alex’s.  A very gifted person, he is a self-taught pilot of great skill. He and Debbie at prepping a 40′ sailboat for a voyage that should last several years. Having such friends is a powerful correction for all the negative people you encounter who will counsel you to give up on dreams just because they did.


We worked all weekend, but the high point came just at sundown on Sunday. Chris and I put in a few hours in the afternoon and got a very smooth first run in on a new 2700 cc engine. This engine is the “deal of the Day” at this link:

Deal Of The Day, 2700cc Gen. 2 Engine, w/rear alt. and HD oil sys.

We still have the engine available, and the deal is still open for another 48 hours. We are going to bring this engine to CC#26 as a running demo. This is about the 20th engine I have built with Chris.  He is an excellent assistant because he is very careful in his work and his standards are very high. He didn’t stay long after the photo, as he works the early shift at Grumman St. Augustine Monday through Thursday.


Above, we gave the engine a 35 minute break in run. Grace took the photos, and I took this one of her. The test stand is chained down to a 700 pound concrete block that we cast into the front yard for this purpose. Just beyond the engine is the edge of our runway. it is 150′ wide and 2400′ long of very thick grass. It gets cut twice a week in the summer. Every single job at our airport, from mowing grass to state DOT and FAA paperwork, is done by volunteer labor from neighbors. We own our place, but we also own 1/40th of the airport, which cost a whopping $750. The annual dues per household are only $270, made possible by the volunteer work ethic of neighbors. The airport has functioned for 40 years by this formula, and it is an outstanding example of what energetic people with a common goal can achieve.


Above, proof that I am a hypocrite. Four days after writing a story about how much I like simple machinery, I bought the above 1993 Chevy Suburban. While my simple pickups have been the backbone of our transportation to airshows and colleges, I will concede that we needed different wheels to travel with, especially since we are going back to the 4 college a year/ two major airshow travel schedule.  Grace, ScoobE and I do OK in a standard pickup, but bringing support crew like Vern requires more seats.  I have previously cursed EFI, and computers, but there is a lesson here: It is better to be a successful hypocrite than a zealot and a failure. Many people come to Corvair building with pet theories that they can not let go of, even if I can show them they are headed for trouble. They are zealots, because they are not flexible to learn and use things from outside their comfort zone. I may sound like that kind of person from time to time, but in reality, my only allegiance is to good decision-making and accomplishing the original goal. If the smart path turns out to be different that I predicted, I’ll let my friends tease me for being a hypocrite, but this is eminently preferable to failing as a zealot. The truck is actually a very simple fleet model with no frills, but an interesting history.


If you look at the close-up of the door,  You can see that the previous owner was Northrop-Grumman.  It was bought new by the California weapons system division, and later transferred to St. Augustine.  It actually had a map and a set of directions on how to get to the test range inside Edwards Air Force base in the glove box. The “92” is to allow it to be addressed by the tower on the radio when on taxiways. It has numerous expired flight line decals on the bumpers from many different airports. The paint is flaking off, but it is a good deal because it only has 88,000 miles on it, had lifelong professional maintenance, runs perfectly and cost us only $1,700. Corvair core engines are not the only good deals on Craigslist. Using mechanical devices from outside to experience base is all about picking the right mechanical mentor, an instructor who knows his subject. If you are building a Corvair flight engine, I’m your man.  When I wanted to know critical details and failure modes on the Suburban, I called Mark from Falcon, who happens to know this era of GM EFI systems inside and out. He ran over all the possible trouble modes and their prevention. The mechanical subject is different, but the route to success is exactly the same: Find the person with the first hand industry experience and good judgment and put away your biases and listen to him.


A quick look at Vern’s latest project, a FAR 103 legal Ultralight similar to a Heath Baby Bullet. Just like his aero-trike, this is a tribute to his fabrication and scrounging skills. The plane is a one-off design of his own. The engine is a Mosler MMCB-40 2 cylinder four-stroke. It is wire braced with streamline wires from a small biplane. The landing gear is cub style, with a very small version of the style of spring-in-tube suspension that we build for Pietenpols. On weekends, Vern works on his project in our hangar. This way if we need him for an hour here and there in the day, he is readily available. Sunday was almost 100% engine building in the workshop, so Vern used the day to weld out his fuselage. He test fit it all back together at 10:30pm.


 Last look before closing the hangar doors on a day that began 15 hours earlier. Grace’s Taylorcraft sits on ramps because we live in a flash flood prone lot, and it is hurricane season. The ramps also offer enough clearance for engines on the stand to pass under the wing when going from the workshop to the ramp in front of the hangar. New engine safely tucked away, we will run it several more hours this week. Behind it Vern stands next to his project, the blue fuselage of the Wagabond is visible, Grace’s Corvair van up on jacks for a transmission change, a task that will have to wait until the end of the Northern flying season after CC#27.

I wrote the above section of this story by 1am or so. But it is the middle of the night now, I drank too much coffee, and I am wide awake now. What do I think about at this time of the night? Stuff like this:

A long time ago, I came to the observation that I had never actually met any human so rotten and worthless that they actually deserved every bad thing that happened to them.  Neither had I met a single person who was so good and virtuous that they had earned and deserved every good thing that had happened to them.

You can abdicate from caring about humans with broken lives by pointing out the superficial truth that they caused much of the trouble they have, but every time I look at such a person I am far more inclined to think that without the great fortune of being born to my parents and the love of family and friends, I easily could have been them. “There but for the grace of God go I” is not a religious statement to me, it just seems like a realistic assessment of the diminished possibilities when one is born with one foot in an emotional grave.

Very similar, I have met a great number people who were convinced that they had 100% earned, all on their own, or even in spite of all others, every single good thing in their lives. While that storyline may support the self narrative of their lives or their “me first, me only” actions and philosophy, I can’t believe, no matter how hard-working they are, that all of their success was purely self-generated. Experience suggests that they were also the unearned beneficiaries of countless acts of kindness and generosity, fortune of birth, and random favorable chance, even if admitting this would spoil their self-image as a leading character in some unwritten Ayn Rand novel.

Two weeks before Oshkosh, The family of Tom C. the oldest resident of our airpark, came to take him to live his remaining time with them. At arm’s length, Tom was a very crusty character, antagonistic, confrontational, intoxicated. He had lots of pets, which he loved, but never seemed to know how to care for them; from a distance he was a puzzling mix of conflicting signals and actions.

One day I actually had a private conversation with him and found out in a few minutes that when he was 17, he was with the 7th infantry Division at Chosin, a member of RCT-31. Barely more than a boy, he had lived through an experience that few people could imagine. At an age where many young men are just being awarded a high school diploma, Tom had just been awarded a lifetime supply nightmares that would never leave him, even when he tried to drown them in alcohol.

He told me had never been good with people, but had faked it well enough to get by in life until he was 70 or so, and then something changed, and he was overwhelmed and had just felt more isolated since. He told me that the only person at our airport who regularly spoke with him was Alex. I thought about all the times I had driven past this man standing in his yard raking leaves, driven past because one or two other people had just said to leave him alone, he was trouble. To this hour, I remain ashamed of how easily I allowed other people to decide for me who was a human being and who was not.

If you are hoping for an uplifting ending, worthy of a TV drama, sorry, honesty will not allow it. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have wanted Tom as a father, teacher or even a next door neighbor. He was not easy to like, and I am pressed here to name any really redeeming character features. His family really only showed up because they hoped he had something left, which he didn’t. On his last day at the airpark, which also happened to be a Sunday, I said to a number of people who had previously butted heads with him that it was their last chance to go down and close things with a few kind words.

One person asked me what had Tom done to deserve him going down there and saying anything positive to him? “Nothing at all” I told him. Tom had neither earned nor deserved anyone going down there. Tom might not even be truly thankful nor appreciative. In fact the only good that could come of it was that you could go look at Toms broken life, not from a passing car window, but up close, so close that you could really see the damage and the cost, close enough to smell the booze and see into his wet, sad eyes. Then you could really get something out of going over there, because when you went home and offered thanks to what ever God or force that you believe runs this world,  you could always be thankful that, for reasons that have much more to do with fate, kindness and luck than your own hard work or virtue,  you didn’t have to live that man’s life.-ww

Corvair College #28, Feb 2014 in Texas.


Although it may sound far off, it is less than 6 full months away.  Kevin Purtee and Shelley Tumino are the local hosts, (the same people who hosted CC#22.) The even is well in the works, and we anticipate a very productive and fun event.  We are planning on opening the on-line registration for it next month, but I thought I would chime in with a photo that is certainly worth a thousand words……


Above, Kevin, ScoobE and your humble narrator in our dinning room about two months ago. Kevin’s Day job with the Texas Air Guard brought him to Florida, and he made time for a quick visit to out place. Several years ago Grace gave me the sock money hat. I brought it to CC#22 in Texas. Kevin spotted it, and put it on just before giving a very serious “Welcome to CC#22” speech.  It is an inside joke, (with more than a little truth in it), that no matter what he does, people respect and admire Kevin.  He ended up wearing the hat through most of CC#22.  Just as predicted, everyone still took him seriously.  When it stopped by, I dug up the hat so he could reprise the role,. Kevin and Shelly are great examples of getting the most out of life, Grace and I feel very fortunate to have them as friends, and they have made the Corvair movement a far richer place by their presence, work and example.-ww

Friday out of shop until 4pm.


It’s 2;30 am here, and in another 4.5 hours we will be starting a 1/2 day tour of our CNC machine shops in central Florida. While the day before we leave for a College or an airshow is busy, there is usually a time crunch about 10 days before departure when we get the last round of material into the machine shops, the last parts into the powder coater, and the last orders into the print shop, so the can get picked up a week later just before we depart Florida, In the case of CC#26-Zenith open house ’13, the crunch day is 9/6/13, today. The loop down through central Florida is about 325 miles of driving. I am starting early, (that is why I have been asleep for hours, this is just my clone sitting at the keyboard sipping coffee and typing this) and I am shooting to be back in the shop by 4pm est. I will be in the shop all weekend, If you would like speak on the phone, just call 904 529 0006 or send an email with your number and a good time to call. Looking forward to speaking with each of you.

Blast from the past, winter 2005: Sebastien Heintz, Grace and myself in the Zenith hangar, one of our stops on the 5,000 mile Midwest night school tour. (http://www.flycorvair.com/midwest05.html) Eight and a half years ago, but just looking at the photo brings back a lot of memories of time well spent over the years.  Grace never ages, but just for fun compare Sebastien and I in the 2013 Oshkosh photo below. He looks twice as laid back and I look twice as old.  At least the dog looks good with whiskers.


Corvair College #26 and #27 notes.


Registration for Corvair College #26 is now closed. We have 76 builders signed up for the event, which will run from noon on the 18th to 10:30am on the 20th. We have planned it this way so that we can clean up and pack up, as the space we will be using is also being used for the Zenith open house forums starting at noon on the 20th. Sebastien has provided the space, and I have assured him we will return it clean and on time. 46.5 hours is a fairly short college, but we have a long track record of packing productive work and learning into short periods of time. This schedule also allows builders to take in all aspects of Zeniths Open House on Friday and the main day on Saturday. We will be on hand both days also. Our initial plan was to limit the builders at this event to 60 due to space and supervision, but as I reviewed the registration information, I saw that a high percentage of the builders signing up were headed to their first College, and they were planning on studying, taking pictures and learning, probably lending a hand, but not yet bringing an engine. Because these builders don’t need table space, engine stands, or special tooling, we elected to run the allowable registration to 75. We are full, but it will not hinder the transfer of information and learning.

We will have more notes on Colleges shortly. Builders signed up for #26 will receive more detailed information directly emailed to them this week. We are leaving for the College in 11 days and expect to be out of the shop for 7 days. After that we will be in full prep for Corvair College #27 in Barnwell SC in November.

Barnwell has a hard limit of 100 builders; We opened the sign up for #27 before Brodhead and Oshkosh, months earlier than we typically have, to allow builders to plan further ahead. We have already signed up more than 30 builders for Barnwell. Although we have come close, we are yet to hit 100 people at Barnwell in the previous colleges we have held there. Before we have held the registration open until a week before the event. In speaking with 601/Corvair builder Ken Pavlou, (who handles all of the on-line registrations from an undisclosed location in CT.), we have decided to cut off the #27 sign up at midnight on October 20th, or when we reach 100 builders, which ever comes first.

If you are planning on attending #27, please let me encourage you to sign up for it early, and not to assume that we will have the sign up active until the last week as we have done in earlier years. The link is listed below:


CC27 – https://corvaircollege.wufoo.com/forms/corvair-college-27-registration/


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



Above, Randy Bush runs his engine at Corvair College #19 in Barnwell. He flew this engine to Oshkosh this year. His aircraft now has more than 500 hours on it. 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

Deal Of The Day, early generation hub…(Sold 2:11 am, 9/3/13)


Today’s deal of the day is an early generation black hub / starter and alternator arrangement. These parts actually flew on our Zenith 601XL in 2004. They have been used on another test engine. The parts are used, but in fairly good condition and airworthy.


Before there were Gold hubs and 5th bearings, this was how Corvairs were converted. Today, there are still a great number of aircraft in the Corvair fleet operating systems identical to these. This set up can be directly used on a 4 bearing engine, or it can be used by a builder using a Gen. 1 Dan Weseman bearing.

If a budget minded builder wanted to use this with a 5th bearing, it would require the hub modification and a switch to gold starter brackets. It would still be an economical proposition. The ring gear is an FRA-235, the style we have not used in 5 years. Today we use disc style ring gears that do not have spokes. If the edges of the spokes above are polished to remove stress risers, they have a good track record. Otherwise they are prone to developing cracks in the spokes. I put a lot of effort into explaining the concept and asking people to periodically inspect these, but many builders did neither. Today, all of these are eliminated by only offering the disc style ring gear, but for builders willing to put closer effort in, the spoked wheels was more than a pound lighter. If a builder wanted to upgrade to a disc style ring gear on this arrangement, it will bolt right on.

This is a good opportunity for a builder working to a tight budget to get launched on an affordable engine.

The parts in this package are:

Black hub, Ring gear, puck, front alternator pulley, starter, brackets, tail bracket, alternator brackets, 20 amp alternator, and drive belt.

These parts cost more than $1,250 new. As the ‘Deal of the day’, we are selling them for $475.

If you would like them, email me directly at:


I will cover the shipping in the US.-ww.