February 9, 2014 3 Comments
I spoke to our “Man on the west coast” 601XL builder and pilot Woody Harris last night. I caught him on his cell phone after he had just landed at Merced CA. He was short of his home destination, Vacaville in Northern California. He and a friend were shut out from returning by weather. No matter, Woody’s daughter lives near by, and they were having a beer in the pub while they were waiting. Woody is the kind of guy who is flexible enough to have a good time in any situation, even if it was unexpected.
Woody and His friend had been all the way down in Southern CA for a particularly extreme off road race called “the King of the Hammers.”
His friend had driven in it, spending 14 hours the day before behind the wheel. In the middle of the 10 minute call, Woody mentioned that he had just crossed over 400 hours in his plane, (N743WH). To people who do not know homebuilts this sounds modest, but it isn’t. For a variety of reasons, less than half of homebuilts reach the 500 hour mark. But it isn’t the hours I find impressive, it is the fact that Woody has flown his plane all over the country and had some incredibly good adventures.
What should be important to you is that his plane and 2,850cc Corvair engine are straight out of our parts catalog and installation manual. In the links below, I relate that Woody is not a life long aviator. He has been in the game just a few years. In short, there is no reason why anyone reading this couldn’t achieve what he has done. Woody took our proven path and used it to serve him. While it did take time and cost money, neither of these are the major hurdle to others doing the same adventure. The single biggest impediment is just deciding that it is your time to get started on this adventure. I can show you how to build the engine and install it, I can put you on our ‘Zenvair builder list”, I can have you at a college, offer all kinds of support. But the one thing I can not do for you is to make you get started. That decision must come first.
I was going to say that you must have faith in your own ability to learn the skills you will pick up in the building and learning to fly process, but faith is the wrong word. Technically, faith is belief in the absence of evidence. Deciding that 2014 will be your year does not require faith, just observation. Your belief that you can do this can simply be based on observing that Woody, and dozens of other Corvair builders have done it. Some of them might have predeveloped skills or a bigger budget than you, but that just changes the time line a bit, the opportunity for adventure is just as open to you. You just need to decide that you will do this.
Above, Woody’s plane on the way to Oshkosh 2011. For starters, I am going to confess to stealing most of these pictures off well-known Zenith 601 builder, Steve Smith’s website. My only defense is that I always ask our guys with flying planes to send in pictures, but a lot of them are too busy having fun. Woody is part of the group of guys that move from one adventure to another without documenting many of them. Steve is a California based 601XL builder with a Jab 3300 on the front of his plane. He, Woody and Zenith’s west cost guy Doug Dougger (who has an O-200 in his bird) fly around together on a lot of trips, including a big one to Oshkosh that provided some of these photos.
Woody flying over Grand Teton.
Woody and Doug Dougger over South Dakota.