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




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.




“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”



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.





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.


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.’




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.


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.




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.


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.







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.

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

  1. Seeing an alert in my in box stating that a new flycorvair.net article has been posted is generally the high point of my day; I love reading the stories and opinion pieces as well as the responses.

    My journey in Homebuilding is backwards from most, I believe. I was originally looking at plans and power plants and realized I would likely never be able to afford a plane powered by a Continental or Lycoming, or even most of the other aviation specific engines. I was close to abandoning my dream of owning my own plane, built with my own hands, because the damn engine would cost me more than the entire rest of the project and that was money I didn’t have.

    At about this point, I saw an article about the Wittman Tailwind powered by an Olds V8. This opened up a completely different line of thought for me. I started looking at auto conversions primarily and figured I would worry about the airframe later. Over a several month period I read about every conversion I could find. Some seemed like pipe dreams; very little actual details and, other than one or two (if any) no flying examples. I finally stumbled across the Corvair sites. Here was something wholly different, hundreds of flying examples over the decades. Hmm, I thought, there must be something to this. Still, it took a while to find what I thought was the right conversion for the Corvair. I finally found this site, was impressed by the thoughtful articles, depth of knowledge and intelligent responses posted by builders. I looked up some of these individuals, traded emails with some, met others in person. I live in Nashua, NH and have a number of flying Corvair powered planes in my vicinity. I now had a power plant design that worked and people whose opinions could be trusted; WW with his designs and 25 years of experience and clones of his design that I could look at built by people who flew them regularly.

    Now that I had an engine plan it was time to look for an airframe; I choose the Zenith 650. This was my choice because I knew the type of flying I wanted to do with whatever plane I built and I also wanted to work with a company that would not brand me a pariah for not using their “Blessed” power plant, which they just happen to also sell. Seeing the huge number of 650s flying with Corvairs told me that this was a tried and true combination… and I have no issue with copying an existing design. I am a sailor by training, idiots on the ocean die or cause others to die just as quickly as they do in the sky, I don’t feel the need to be an innovator to call myself a Homebuilder.

    I have a fair amount of my aircraft built. My entire tail section is complete, ailerons and flaps are done, right wing is ready to skin and the left’s components are ready to assemble. I have all of my fuselage metal at the hanger ready to rock and roll and am hoping to complete my Corvair at CC#31 next week in Barnwell, the same place I started it one year ago.

    I have met many wonderful people on this journey and know I will meet many more once I get this baby in the air. I can’t wait to get to Barnwelll next week!

  2. dan-o says:

    I am guy #3 and as happy as a cold pig in warm mud.

  3. Sarah Ashmore says:

    The reason for the Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) catagory was Education and Recreation, not to push the frontiers of aviation. That said there is nothing wrong with building a Clone of a successful design as it fulfills that purpose. Surly there is nothing experimental about the Vans line of aircraft and the builder can be assured of success in the end if the plans are followed, just like the builder of a Corvair aircraft engine can be assured of success by following the plans that are available here.

    There is nothing wrong with some well thought out innovation along the way, just be sure you have a good understanding of what risk the innovations bring and stay away from the “Local Expert” who has an opinion on everything but has never actually done anything.

    • Sarah,
      Good points. I would also like to point out that you have built and run a very straight forward 3,000 cc Corvair for your one of a kind composite homebuilt project. It is intelligent risk management to conduct one ‘experiment’ at a time. Very few of the people talking about modifying planes have your educational background or profession or the sustained will to become self educated on it like Dan Weseman. I look forward to seeing your design fly when it is ready. Builders who would like to get a look at Sarah’s purple engine, check this link: https://flycorvair.net/2014/04/08/corvair-college-29-leesburg-fl-photo-report/Corvair .

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