Zenith Open House, Mexico 2014 Part 2

Builders,

Here is one more set of pictures to cover the good time we had at the 23rd annual Zenith Factory open house. I have selected images that covered elements of what makes being a Corvair builder a different experience. Get a good look , read the captions, consider your own goals in homebuilding. If you are a traditional homebuilder, in the game to Learn, Build and fly, we have a place for you among new friends.

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Above, The five Corvair powered Zeniths that flew into the event, all parked for a photo in front of the Mexico terminal. A decade ago, in the early years of Corvair powered Zeniths, we brought our own 601XL, and Rick Lindstrom’s 601XL to many airshows. They were a good display, but they were “Ringers” planes that were built, finished and flown out of my commercial hanger. Any company with skilled people can do that, and in professional circles, it is understood that this is how you launch a new engine/airframe combination, but it isn’t my personal measure of success.

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The photo above is much more impressive to me than any group of “Ringers.” In the picture above are five real homebuilts from by the craftsmanship of regular builders. Not a single one of these planes has ever been to my airport not hangar, nor did I do any work on them. They are the pure work of homebuilders using our guidance and parts to build their own airframes…and engines.

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In the last 11 years, almost 100 Corvair powered Zeniths have flown. Only 4 of these were “Ringers” or had substantial work done in our hangar. In my book, this is the real measure of success that matters to a new builder considering what engine to utilize. The planes above show that the Corvair/Zenith combination is a fully mature and accepted engine, a proven and affordable path for rank and file homebuilders.

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Above, another look at the Zenith Engine forum. I am in the blue shirt, seated next to Pete Krotie of Jabiru, who is answering a question. Also on hand were reps from Rotax, Continental, Robert Helms from UL power and Jann Eggenfelner from Viking. The forum was Sebastien’s idea to give his builders direct access to the information to make an informed choice for themselves. If you would like to read more on this subject, click here:Selecting an engine for your experimental aircraft

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Above, Lynn Dingfelder awaits the launch signal at the Short take off competition. He has the best combination score for low wing Zeniths. This photo was taken by the Zenith staff photographer, and it gives a good look at how streamlined the 28″ wide Corvair is. Few people realize it is 3″ narrower than an O-200, 4″ narrower than a VW, and 7″ narrower than a Lycoming. This is why we make purpose built cowls and nosebowls for Corvair powered planes. This is a good illustration of why the owner of Kitfox suggesting people use his Lycoming Cowls on Corvair installations is silly, akin to putting Christina Aguilera in a dress made for Aretha Franklin because technically they are both singers, when the real point is he makes money by selling copies of Aretha’s dress and hopelessly argues all singers look good in it..

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Above, Grace stands in the Zenith hangar, long after the open house concluded. It was a long week. We prepped for many days straight, drove 1,100 miles to Mexico, had 4 sixteen hour days of Corvair College #30, then two more days of the open house, and then packed up for a long ride home. Let me throw in that we spent the whole time camping with friends on the Airport grounds, and we drove from and to Florida straight through, 24 hours each way. Grace didn’t just put up with this, she thought it was fun. Don’t bother to write in, I already know I don’t deserve to be married to her.

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Above Dave Gardea with his very nice looking 650, now with more than 300 hours on it. For a closer look at this plane, with links to movies: Zenith 650-2700cc Dave Gardea

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Above, the builders of the five planes standing with Sebastien Heintz on the end.

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Above, a candid photo of a moment on the ramp; l-r Bob Styer, Lynn Dingfelder, and Pat Hoyt. A good moment among friends, but none of these guys knew each other outside of Corvair building. Back at home, at work, everyone probably thinks they are nuts for even flying in light planes. At their home EAA chapter, there may not be a single other person who would consider building their own engine. But at Colleges and airshows with other Corvair builders they are instantly at home with new friends, all bound together by a positive outlook and a self-reliant nature. In an EAA with an ever increasing population that just wants to buy things as consumers, we have a home for men who would rather build them.

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Above, the Zenith dinner on Friday night, always a very nice event. This year was my 7th consecutive year at the open house. We have decided to hold the September college at Zenith just before the open house every year because it is a productive and friendly setting, and it meshes perfectly with the Open House.

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The dinner this year gave me a change to say a few words about our friend, Charlie Becker, who is a director at the EAA, a man who played leading roles in both the EAA’s STOL 750 build and the One Week Wonder 750 Cruiser project. Grace and  I have known Charlie for more than decade, and I will assure anyone that a finer, more capable, more trustworthy man can not be found in experimental aviation. Charlie was personal friends with the EAA’s founder Paul Poberezney, Charlie understands Pauls’ vision and methods, and a strongly feel that tied with Charlie’s, building, flying and organizational skills, he is one of the most effective advocates and protectors of Homebuilding. Even if you have not met him, I will assure any EAA member that this man has worked tirelessly on causes that you care about strongly. For more thoughts on this get a look at: Speaking of Paul Poberezny.

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Above is a photo you will not see on another engine companies website., Here we have many people loading core engine parts in a crate, long after the show is over. These are parts from builders at CC#30 who will later assemble these into 3,000cc Corvairs at CC#31 in November.

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 Grace paused for a moment to shoot it while we were loading up on Saturday afternoon, long after the crowds were gone. Besides Lynn, Pat and Mary, the man in the yellow shirt is 600hr. Corvair/Pietenpol pilot Randy Bush, (Brenda, his better half is in red). I spend a lot of time talking about ‘the Corvair movement’ and ‘Traditional Homebuilders.’ The picture hints at this.

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If Continental or Rotax was leaving a show, no one would expect their customers to say 5 more hours and help their salesmen pack. The difference here is that our builders stay, because they have long known me as a fellow builder, and in many cases as a friend. I have made hundreds of house calls, and have never charged for a single one. They go the extra mile because I have done the same for them before. We attract different builders because we have a different philosophy in all things large and small. A builder who came to CC#30 noted that I am always the last person to sit down and eat dinner. I told him my Father taught me this, and in turn he had learned in from the USMC officers at Inchon. Leadership is understanding that the man at the front of the action is the most important person in the Arena, and in homebuilding, this man is the builder.

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After we were all packed, Grace and I kept up the tradition of taking a dozen people out to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant. Many Corvair pilots, but also members of the Zenith crew, Roger and Steve and friends. It was relaxing to suddenly find ourselves with nothing to do but sit down.

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After dinner we all said goodbye in the parking lot, everyone headed to a motel, and the Zenith guys headed home, and Grace and I decided to log some miles on the path home. We fueled up and I bought a large coffee at the gas station next to Wal-Mart, just as the last light left the sky. Fall was in the night air, and I spent a few minutes speaking with two local guys who had an 8 pointer in the back of their pick-up.

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The weather was clear and we had 1,100 miles to home. Grace, who had worked very hard, was falling asleep before we got to I-70; there is no radio in the Suburban (intentionally) and no cell phone. Just a long quiet night to reflect on the week with a certain sense of accomplishment and a new collection of good memories. Sipping the coffee and rolling along at 65 to 70, I had a real feeling of have just been at the right place, at the right time, and with that past, all was now at ease. I looked at the other cars on the highway and wondered if any of them could have had a memorable week. Like us, they were all headed some where, and I spent a long time on the thought ‘This is Saturday night in America.’ -ww.

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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 www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

One Response to Zenith Open House, Mexico 2014 Part 2

  1. Dan Branstrom says:

    Darn! That ending brought funny little clouds to my eyes. May every trip be so.

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