Corvair College #32, Texas Feb, 2015, Sign up open

Builders,

Corvair College #32 is set for San Marcos Texas. 27 Feb – 1 Mar, The local hosts are Shelley Tumino and Kevin Purtee. The people who brought you CC#22 and CC#28 . This College is at the same location as CC #28. Sign up is now active. This email below came from Shelley today:

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“Hi there, I wanted to let you know that CC32 registration is open and ready for you to shout it from the roof tops!!  Please let your followers know, and as soon as you put it out I’ll post it on the MATRONICS and Facebook. Here is the link:

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https://cc32.wufoo.com/forms/cc32-registration/

Shelley”

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

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Above, at Corvair College #24, we awarded The Cherry Grove Trophy to Pietenpol builders and flyers  Kevin Purtee and his very supportive better half Shelley Tumino.  Their frequent appearances at airshows far from Texas, their constant promotion of ‘learn build and fly’ and the hosting of the highly successful Corvair college #22 made them the right people to be awarded the trophy in 2012. They work as a team, and it was appropriate to award it to both of them. Kevin’s frank discussions of the effort required to achieve something of real lasting value in personal flight reach many builders. Their  ‘lead by personal example’ philosophy has shown a great number of builders a path to success. -ww

For a good read on Kevin’s personal perspective on homebuilding, read his story at this link:

Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #4, Blueprint for success or?

Builders:

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If you have not seen the Intro to this series, you can read it here: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro., It will explain the goals of the articles. Please take a moment to read it, including the comments section.

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“If you build a clone of a successful installation, and operate it the same way, the laws of the universe will make sure you get the same results”

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The Big Myth:

There is a myth in homebuilding that says you have to build something unique and different to be a real homebuilder. This myth is a lie; In reality, all you need to do is finish and fly a homebuilt airplane to be real homebuilder. Even if your plane is a clone of one that has be cloned 100 times, finishing and flying it makes you a real homebuilder. Conversely the most unique and original project that is never finished isn’t actually a plane at all, because planes by definition fly, and therefore, only things that have flown are eligible to be called real homebuilts.

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Why building a clone of a successful plane is good:

Besides the fact the plane will work just like the successful one, here is the underlying reason: If you are building planes for the right reasons, the plane isn’t the project at all. You as an individual is the actual project. The change in your skills, the expansion of your mind, the increase in your faith in yourself and your self reliance are the actual product you are working on. You can achieve all of these things building a clone of a successful plane. People who think of the plane as the product are operating at a very base level that is not self rewarding.  Possession of the plane without the change in self that comes with building and successfully flying it, is empty by comparison.

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Ask yourself this: Three guys are ‘homebuilders’ First guy has the coolest . most unique project ever with lots of clever innovations on his builders site, he has been working on it 12 years, and it will probably never fly.

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Second guy finishes a more common airframe but has a something ‘innovative or unique about it, like a British car carburetor or a home brewed EFI set up. It harms the motor, and even though it goes around the pattern, the guy knows never to trust it because the world looks very different from 500’ with a sputtering engine than it does looking at a cool project on a computer screen.

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The third guy builds an absolute clone of a successful aircraft. It works just like the original. He flies the 40 hours off without issue. He gradually builds his skills and over time travels the country. Every bit of mastering the operation of the plane was guided by the experience of other builders who had previously built a clone of the same plane.

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Ask yourself, out of these three examples, which guy actually experienced the transformative power of homebuilding in his life? Every time I bring this up to a guy who wants to build something totally unique, they always counter with “but my ideas will really work.” I point out that I have known hundreds of people in 25 years who had a unique project that was never finished, and several dozen that flew a unique plane that crashed on the first flight, wasted the engine, or scared the crap out of the builder enough that he never flew the 40 hours off……and every single one of these people said to me “but my ideas will really work.” They believed this because 95% had never built a successful plane before. They didn’t know what one looked like.

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In the foreground above is Dan Weseman’s Wicked Cleanex. Off his wing, Chris Smith flies the Son Of Cleanex.  When Chris announced his intention of building a Clone of Dan’s plane, a number of people on the Corvaircraft list gave him crap about this, claiming it wasn’t “Real homebuilding.” Chris finished the plane in 2 years, flew it for hundreds of hours, went on to flying an RV-4 that he took on trips through back country strips in Idaho and Montana, and today flies his RV-6 around the south east with his girlfriend, while he awaits the two seat Panther.

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He learned formation flying and aerobatics in his homebuilts, and counts dozens of successful homebuilders as friends. Building a clone as evidently the entry point to the transformative experience of homebuilding. And the critics who gave him crap? They did nothing, and 10 years later you can still find the exact same people on the Corvaircraft list telling a new group of people what ‘real homebuilding’ is, and applauding any proposed ‘innovation.’

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cc30mexico14fiveplanes

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Above, The five Corvair powered Zeniths that flew into Corvair College #30, all parked for a photo in front of the Mexico terminal. The engine installation on these planes are clones of the one we developed in our own 601XL more than 10 years ago. Since then, we wrote the installation manual for it, produced hundreds of installation parts like mounts, intakes and exhausts, and have taught 800 people at colleges how to clone our engines. The five planes above are a sample of the success of cloning a proven engine set up.

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In the story: How I became a genius in 6 minutes I share how a builder working on a unique Corvair/601 combination with an MGA carb burned up his engine on the first take off.  Forget about the armchair internet experts who cheered him on, and focus on this: Is your goal to be that guy with a broken engine on flight one or flying far away to places like Mexico MO and having your plane as the #6 ship in the photo? It is a fee world, take your pick.  Choose wisely, some outcomes do not allow a second chance.

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Above, a candid photo of a moment on the ramp; l-r Bob Styer, Lynn Dingfelder, and Pat Hoyt.  Lynn and Pat utilized information we provide to build Corvairs that work, and they are out enjoying them. Bob is working on his own ‘clone’ of our design. I took the photo, it was a great moment in the sun, a spot every homebuilder deserves to have in his life.

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There is a path to get to this point, and there is also another fork in the road.  Every rational person understands that choosing the other fork does not have the same track record of success. I am strongly against internet armchair experts egging on builders they will never meet to produce things with very little chance of success, but a great deal of risk. -ww.

 

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #3, My way or the highway?

Builders:

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If you have not seen the Intro to this series, you can read it here: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro., It will explain the goals of the articles. Please take a moment to read it, including the comments section.

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I am not suggesting that our way is the only way to build and fly Corvair engines. My position is that our way is proven, and for that reason I advocate it, and can do so in good conscience. In 25 years I have seen many examples of builders who were absolutely sure that their way would work as well or better, who ended up with a broken engine or plane. This reality is not rationally debatable. Of course there is a third position, an innovative idea that works, but stop and think, every guy with a broken plane was sure he was in this group just before he took off, and the great majority of them were wrong.

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In 2004 or Zenith 601XL was one of a kind, the first Corvair powered one to fly. On that day it was unique. After it was successfully flown and demonstrated, only then was there a demand for installation parts to Clone it. In the ten years since our Zenith installation has evolved in details, but essentially remains the same. It works, not circumstantially, but for a wide variety of builders in a wide variety of conditions. It is copied because it works, proven over a decade. It there were vastly better ways of doing it, they would have emerged, been proven, and in turn be cloned themselves.  This has not happened.

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I do not have a lock on innovation, a patent on success nor even a 3 digit IQ. All I have are a first class education, 25 years of working with this engine in planes, and the experience to stare at parts for a long time in the hanger and figure out how they will fail long before the plane is taken to the runway or even started.

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Many people can visualize how something might work. It is my ability to visualize how it might break that took much longer to develop, and has served more homebuilders. Speaking out about these things has often lead to be being misunderstood  as anti-innovation.

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In 1996 I wrote the words: “It isn’t the probablity of being right that counts, it is the cost of being wrong that must be considered.” I wrote it because even then I knew that most builders looking at ‘innovation’  considered that backwards. 18 years later, this has not changed.

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Some people read the story below and conclude I consider myself “my brothers keeper.’ I do not, I just consider him my neighbor, and if I see him about to light his house on fire, I am inclined to lean over the fence and suggest he reconsider stripping the paint with a flamethrower.-ww.

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Further reading:

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Effective Risk Management – 2,903 words “This was the first time I can clearly say I understood the cost of keeping your mouth shut. This was the first step to me becoming the kind of “Bastard” who publicly points out people doing dangerous things.”

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“If only someone had told him……” “The incident didn’t change my feelings about either guy, but I did come away from it having to admit that I have a very limited ability to communicate with people who are of other mindsets. I sought a mixture of solace and understanding by drinking a few beers and re-reading, Speaking of Courage, a chapter in Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried.  Norman, the central character in the chapter is destroyed by his inability to find anyone to listen to a bitter truth he knows.”

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #2, Hardest working engine

Builders,

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If you have not seen the Intro to this series, you can read it here: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro., It will explain the goals of the articles. Please take a moment to read it, including the comments section.

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What is the hardest working flying Corvair engine?

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Without question, The 3,000 cc Corvair in Dan Weseman’s Panther is worked harder than any other flight engine.  Engine loads are determined by the RPM, power output, the G-forces applied, the weight of the prop, the density of the air, and how long these loads are sustained. Cooling is affected to a great extent by sustained climb speeds; the lower the speed the plane can climb at, the better the cooling needs to be.

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Seen as a composite of all of these factors, no other Corvair comes close; The flight rpm is well over 3,000, It is a high compression 120hp engine, the plane is regularly flown to it’s full 6.6 G rating pulling thousands of aerobatic maneuvers in it’s first 100 hours. It has a medium weight prop and is mostly flown in dense sea level air which increases the output. I have personally seen Dan take off for a flight and lock the throttle wide open for 28 minutes. The engine is never babied, and almost all of its tight maneuvering against other aircraft are done at full power and low airspeeds  to take advantage of the plane’s aspect ratio which reduces induced drag in high G turns. If you have not seen Dan fly the plane in person, it is very hard to visualize how extreme his use of the engine is. The video links below give some idea, but to really understand, you have to see it in person.

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The Panther’s engine has a Weseman billet crank in it, but I will also point out that Dan also built and flew ‘The Wicked Cleanex’ several hundred hours on a 3,100 cc Corvair with GM 8409 crank. He flew that plane nearly as hard as the Panther. It’s engine had an additional 100cc, turned more rpm, and flew many of the same maneuvers, also at slower climb speeds. Between the Panther and the Cleanex, Dan has flown about 500 hours, but he has also flown 9 other Corvair powered planes for comparison.

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Why this matters:

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Builders have a perception of what the engine can and can’t do, and how they will configure it partially based on what they believe the engine is proven to do. An extreme example of this is a local guy who has seen one Corvair in a 1970’s Pietenpol assuming that is all that the engine can do. But even in the information age, most builders can not correctly identify Dan’s Panther engine as the hardest working engine.

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Builders look at other installations and make decisions based on the perception that those engines are working very hard. This has two pitfalls: If the engine they assume it working hard really isn’t they falsely conclude they can copy those systems and components into their plane. It also works the other way, and they can falsely conclude that a Corvair will not work in an application because the engine they are looking at has problems. Most often the issues are not generated because the ultimate potential of the Corvair has been met, the issues are caused by choices the builder made. In many case the Panther engine could be transferred to the application in question, and it would work flawlessly. Correctly identifying the Panther’s engine as the hardest working engine allows builders to make better, more informed choices.

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Many builders think that Mark Langford’s 3,100cc Corvair that was in his KR-2s must have been the hardest driven engine.  I know both planes and pilots well, and I want builders to understand that Mark’s goal was mostly efficiency. He did impressive things like getting 150mph at 3 gallons per hour. But that is done at altitude, and it isn’t a very heavy load. A KR can not sustain the G loads that a Panther of Cleanex can, and Mark is not the aggressive aerobatic pilot that Dan is. The KR climbs at a much higher airspeed and requires less power to fly at any airspeed over 120mph. In short, It’s engine is not working nearly as hard.

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Here are two examples why this matters: Frequently builders say to me “I want to use fiberglass plenum cooling on my plane because it worked on Mark’s plane, and it was the most powerful Corvair”. This is a false conclusion. If you put Mark’s cooling ducts on the Panther and flew it the way Dan does, it would overheat. The ducts work on a KR because of it’s higher airspeeds and the fact the plane can not be flown as aggressively or under high loads. A KR builder could use ducts, but we also make a standard Cowl and JSWeseman.com has a baffle kit for it. It is the same type of cooling as the Panther and the Cleanex have.

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The second false perception is when a guy wants to build a 120hp Corvair, but concludes that it can not be done, because Mark had issues, and the builder perceives that these were caused by the engine reaching it’s output limit. Because I know the Panther engine is actually driven harder, that it’s engine, complete with front starter and cooling could be installed in a KR and it would work without issue. I know this because it has been done already by well know KR builders like Steve Makish and Dan Heath.

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The systems we sell and promote work, and they have proven to do so in the most demanding applications. This is easier to see if one understand what the most demanding application actually is. Neither the Panther nor the Cleanex have had significant issues. The engines work and run, period, they both run cool, and neither one has had a single inflight issue. -ww.

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Notes:

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Panther Flight Videos:

http://flywithspa.com/videogallery/panther-compilation1181040787/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX_HN–ZQVI and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzZl4gU_6o8 )

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Links to Panther and Cleanex notes:

The Panther’s engine, worlds strongest Corvair flight engine.

Why Not the Panther engine?

http://flywithspa.com/panther.html

Corvair power for Panther and Sonex reference page

3,000 vs 3,100 cc Corvair engines.

Panther Engine propeller test

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Above, the engine is a 3,000 cc engine with a Weseman bearing, Falcon heads and all of our Gold System Parts.

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In the foreground above is Dan Weseman’s Wicked Cleanex. Off his wing, Chris Smith flies the Son Of Cleanex. The photo was taken over a bend in the St. Johns River in North Florida. Today the wicked cleanex is owned and flown by Chuck Gauthier on the west coast. The plane has about 450 hours on it, without issue.

 

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro.

Builders,

Here is a slightly different series, with the goal of giving builders a foundation of facts, which are the basis of all the information I provide.  We present a lot of details, and a fair amount of ‘big picture’ stuff, and philosophy, but I have noticed in conversation with builders at airshows and colleges, they are often missing many fundamental ‘truths’ that my testing has long conclusively proven.

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Here I present a series of perhaps 20 short pieces, Each providing a block for a solid foundation of understanding.  The things I say here are not up for debate. If anyone reading these says “I don’t think so’, they  will do well to consider that no one has been doing this longer, tested more ideas, and seen more Corvair powered planes, and studied the results, both good and bad than I have.

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If someone is betting that I am wrong, understand that their wager is pretty steep: They are betting years of their time, cubic yards of money, their life, and that of their passenger. Plenty of people have been convinced I don’t know what I am speaking of, and lost this bet. In most cases they lost lots of building time, and a fair amount of capital. It often was the undoing of their building momentum and the end of their project, and an exit to homebuilding. In a handful of cases, it cost a lot more. I sincerely suggest evaluating the need, at times emotional, to believe I am wrong on this topic, and then placing one’s  bet accordingly.

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Some people who thought I was wrong:

“If only someone had told him……”

Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place.

Cloudn’t have happened to a nicer guy……

How I became a genius in 6 minutes

“Local Expert” convinces builder to use cast pistons

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I have plenty of these stories. A number of them involve the aircraft being destroyed on the first flight.  Dragonfly, Quickie, Zenith, KR you name it, I have a story of a guy who was going to show me how wrong I was, and ended up with a broken plane in a field. Lots of them are just about people spending 8 or 10 years of their life in the shop, much of it building an engine installation I know will not work well.

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I had a guy call me yesterday and tell me he is going to design a gear box for the Corvair, put it on a turbo engine with 140HP heads, set it up for 200HP, and put it on a Zenith 701. He was serious.  Funny, we had a guy come to Corvair College #18 with basically the same engine (not running) to make the point that I wasn’t “the only guy who knew Corvairs”  He envisioned a business building these. A few months ago it was on barnstormers, never flown, asking $7,500, worth perhaps scrap metal value.

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Read the stories, follow the logic, adopt it into your perspective and understanding, plan your progress accordingly. The other option is to stick with an understanding based on an incorrect assumption long ago adopted, even if no evidence supports it. Take your pick, have it any way you like. -ww.

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“If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it–the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”

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William Clifford, The Ethics of Belief – 1877.

 

How I became a genius in 6 minutes

Builders:

About 6 months ago, a builder finished a Corvair powered 601XL and got ready to take it on it’s first flight. It should have been a low stress event, because we have almost 100 Corvair powered Zeniths that have flown, and we have proved time and time again that if you build the installation exactly how we suggest, the laws of reality insure that the plane has to work with the exact same reliability that numerous well known 601/Corvair pilots like Woody Harris, Phil Maxson and Ken Pavlou have had in their planes. No one need be a pioneer nor a test pilot, they only need to make sure the plane is in the proven configuration, and then get a test program just like the one outlined in our Flight Ops Manual.

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Ah that little phrase “exactly how we suggest”.  Four words, 18 letters. Can’t really make that much difference can it? The builder in question had taken about 10 years to finish the plane.  He was well aware of how we install a Corvair in the 601 airframe. He was a member of the Corvaircraft on line discussion group for years. Before I was banned for life from it, I spent a lot of time there writing stories trying to explain details of what we had learned by meticulous testing and evaluation.

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For the most part, my contribution to the discussion was not well received. I was often criticized as a damper on ‘creativity.’ In this setting, armchair experts, most of whom had never seen a Corvair fly, far less built one, applauded any effort that was not ‘conformist’ to my suggestions. I made countless posts against people who offered recommendations based on zero personal experience.  It mostly fell on deaf ears.

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The 601 builder in question put many ‘non-conformist’ ideas into his plane. The primary one that sticks out is the selection of carb: he chose to use one of the two carbs off a 60hp 1958 British MGA.  While this strikes me as a legitimate suicide attempt, his selection essentially met with cheers and applause because it went against my suggestion of using an aircraft carb.

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I honestly think that in a normal setting, where experience and facts are valued, the builder would not have followed through with the carb. But on Corvaircraft, there were many, many vocal supporters of crazy ideas. Their advocacy put them in no danger, they were safely at home behind a keyboard, using ‘screen names’ and making recommendations to people they would never meet. All this lead to the 601 builders arriving at two conclusions: his ideas were well thought out, and second, that guy William Wynne was probably some kind of authoritarian dim wit.

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As the builder began his take off roll and all seemed to be going well, my status in his mind must have sunk to a new low…every one of my warnings not to do things now seemed like the babbling of a foolish control freak. He must have thought “I mean, really, what kind of an ego does that guy have to call himself the authority? things are going great!….”

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Once he past 400 feet the engine went into heavy detonation, and by 240 seconds into the flight it was largely destroyed. The last two minutes were limping back to the runway. Ten years of work for 360 seconds in the air. I contacted him after the event, and we had a pretty civil exchange of thoughts.  Although he didn’t say it directly, the general conversation indicated that he was amazed at how I had gone from being an authoritative dim wit to being a mechanical-philosophical genius in 6 minutes. -ww.

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cc30mexico14fiveplanes

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Above, The five Corvair powered Zeniths that flew into Corvair College #30, all parked for a photo in front of the Mexico terminal. These builders decided that the surest path to their own personal goals in building and flying was to utilize the information we provide.  Although I get along with all of them, their choice to use the information was based on it’s credible and proven value, not our personalities.

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There are also plenty of other people who, for a myriad of reasons, chose not to use the information. The great majority of those planes were never finished, and a number of the ones completed were destroyed in “accidents” .  I put quote marks on that word because it may have seemed like an accident to bystanders, but I make the case that if the known expert on an installation publicly says it will not work, and the builder chooses to try it anyway, it is a misnomer to call that event an accident, as it is better described as an “inevitable.” -ww.

 

Thought for the day: The ‘Triple crown’ of Homebuilding.

Builders,

On Saturday night, I wrote that Vern and I worked until 1am before quitting for the night. Sunday I was up from 7am until midnight, and Vern was here from 10am-6pm. Today we worked from 8am until about 10pm. The work isn’t frantic, it is just one long steady flow. We have worked together for a number of years, and there is little conversation during the day. We start every day with Vern’s favorite tune, The Brian Setzer orchestra version of the Hawaii 5-0 theme song. Much of the day was spent listening to old Stones albums like Exile on Main street, a chunk of the day was spent on the BBC sessions of Led Zeppelin, and we spent the evening listening to a loop of Floyd’s Dark side of the Moon and Animals, the last song before I turned off the lights was “Any Colour you like.”

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I drank too much coffee and it is now 2am and I can’t sleep; these random thoughts keep crossing my mind:

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I spent a lot of the day thinking about my personal “Triple Crown” of home building. This revolves around building an airframe, the engine, and knowing how to fly it with a high degree of dexterity. I had touched on this in the story: Thought for the Day: Mastery or?

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I would much rather have built a simple plane than purchase a complex one; I want to be the master of it’s power plant, not merely it’s owner or attendant; I don’t want to be a mediocre instrument or multi pilot, I just was to be a good day-vfr stick and rudder pilot. The world’s best guide for the last leg of the triangle is the book Stick and Rudder, read about why it is important here: Greatest Book on Flying Ever Written, (Is your life worth $16?)

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I don’t really know how common these goals are in homebuilding. There is plenty of evidence that people feel differently. At our last EAA meeting a man brought pictures of his newly completed RV-7, complete with a $40,000 panel.  One problem: word is that he can’t fly it because he is unwilling to devote the time to really learning how to land conventional geared planes.  It didn’t occur to him that a $20,000 panel and a few months of regular instruction from a skilled CFI might have been a better option. Most people were wowed by the electronics and paint.  It made me think about this story: Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place.

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Another member flew up in the plane he has owned for 6 months.. Most people didn’t know what it was, but I pointed out it was a Luscombe 8E. Getting out the owner corrected me and gave a long diatribe about how the plane was an 8A, complete with a comment that I was too young to know classics like his. When he was done, I walked him over and showed him the data plate in the door jam, identifying the plane as an 8E. He is the owner, his name is on the paperwork, but he doesn’t even know what it is.  It was another day like this one: A visit to the insane asylum.

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You can’t really claim to be the master of a machine if you don’t know what it is. Being able to page through a ‘menu’ on a glass cockpit to display electronic circuit breakers, but not understanding why having two E-mags is a questionable idea isn’t mastery either. All too frequently in our consumer society, people no longer even understand that there is a difference between legal ownership and technical mastery. The ultimate indictment of the consumer mentality was actually written the same year I was born, 1962. The quote is imbedded in this story: Sterling Hayden – Philosophy

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If merely owning things made people happy for any significant length of time, than Americans would be the happiest people the world has ever known. Driving around, I don’t think we are in any danger of suddenly becoming a nation of whole, self-actualized humans. 16 months ago I covered the perspective in this tale: Turtles and Cell Phones, 6/24/13.

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“If the goal of the captain was to preserve the ship, he would never leave port. Most people never do. The goal of the captain is to seek adventure, to meet all the challenges and still achieve the goals, to be In The Arena, not rusting at the pier in the safe harbor. Make your choice. If it sounds scary, it’s because consumer society has had decades to teach you to doubt yourself, your potential, your dreams and abilities. People who think for and have learned to trust themselves make poor compulsive consumers. Building a plane and learning to master its maintenance and flight is the rejection of these messages, and the replacement of them with the knowledge that you are the master of your own adventure. This is what building and flying is all about.” -ww.

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Luscombe 8A

I was looking on the web for a good picture to illustrate how different Luscombe 8A’s are from 8E’s. I came across this EAA page with a great picture of an 8F…….which of course was identified as an 8A.

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