Thought for the Day: Two paths in managing risk

“At Corvair College#28, Kevin Purtee remarked that he and I are both the same age, have both worked in aviation every day since we were 26, both hold the same degree from Embry-Riddle, and have both extensively studied and managed risk programs. Yet he pointed out that he has learned a lot from the things I have written on the topic.

There is a simple explanation for this. He has worked in a very dangerous environment (combat) but has done so with professionals who understand risk management. Conversely, I have spent the same years in the wilderness of homebuilding, working with people who often didn’t think they had anything to learn from me. Simply put, I have had a front row seat to countless examples of dangerous thinking and seen the results. I have enough stories, but right now, someone is working on adding to the list. Just make sure it isn’t you.”-ww.





Left, Hans Vandervort, middle Kevin Purtee and myself, all  Corvair /Piet guys. Kevin has two lives in aviation, one as a fun-loving homebuilder who wears a sock money hat and Hello Kitty tee shirt at Corvair Colleges, and the second as a deadly serious Attack Helicopter pilot with 25 years in the trade.


In person he is polite, charming and friendly. He and Shelley were the hosts of Colleges #22 and #28. We awarded them the Cherry Grove trophy in 2012 for their contributions to Corvair Powered flight.


Kevin says that his two worlds in aviation are so far apart that the professional Warrior stays “at work.” I have spent a lot of time with Kevin, and can verify that this is almost always true.


The sole exception I can think of was when a self-described “professional homebuilder” was giving Kevin an unsolicited lecture on how the style of his plane was not quite right. Kevin politely responded with a big smile, telling the guy that he appreciated the advice, but he builds planes just for fun, it isn’t his day job. He looked the guy in the eye and said “I kill people at work.” You can dress him in a sock monkey hat, a pink shirt or whatever, He is still 100% Warrior under it all.


Kevin and Shelley keep a busy schedule. For example, the week before Corvair College #22  they were having dinner at the White House.


Further reading:

The Cherry Grove Trophy

50 days until CC#28, and a look at CC#22

Corvair College #22 KGTU Texas Spring Break 2012

Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee



About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at and in more than 50 magazine articles.

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