1,500 mile Corvair College flight in a 601XL

Builders,

Below is a story with great photos written by Ken Pavlou, of flying a Corvair/601XL from Connecticut to Barnwell SC and back last week. For people who question the capability of light sport qualified home built aircraft, especially ones with converted auto engines, it will be an eye opener. Get a good look at the photos Ken took while directly overflying JFK airport at 5,500′ at night, it is a nice view of lower Manhattan:

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https://kenpavlou.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/corvair-college-31-barnwell-sc/.

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In recent weeks, I have written here about several Corvair powered Zeniths that were needlessly damaged or destroyed on their first flight in the stories: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #6, 98% DNA not enough. and How I became a genius in 6 minutes. Reading Ken’s story above, I want everyone to understand what a Corvair powered Zenith is really capable of, and that the people who damaged or destroyed their planes were not victims of ‘bad luck’ nor their selection of engine to work with. They were victims of two things that are 100% avoidable, even to brand new pilots: The willful decision not to follow what has been demonstrated to work and the failure to exercise good judgment and operate the plane by proven methods.

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Ken Pavlou has no special advantage over the people who made decisions that lead to their failures. He is critical care nurse, not a mechanic, and he does not come from a flying family. In a story that should stir the heart of any American, Ken’s family emigrated from Greece when he was 8 in 1975. They didn’t speak the language and were arriving as a modern form of indentured workers. The fact that the same shy child is today a husband, father, outstanding healthcare professional, a tireless contributor to all he is a part of, and now flying the plane and engine he built, speaks volumes about the opportunity for real effort and hard work to be rewarded in this country.

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Flying over New York City at night is not part of my personal goals in Corvair Powered aviation, but I want everyone to know that the machinery as we teach people to build and use it, is capable, and there is no reason to build nor operate it to a lower standard, even if you choose to operate in far less demanding settings. If you are new to home building and flying, know this: who you follow and spend time with matters. In my work and at the Colleges I highlight the work, perspective and success of builders like Ken rather than the fringe element toiling on ideas with little chance of working. Take your pick, follow either path, but know in advance that they do not lead to the same destination.

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Above, Ken with his plane on the flight line at Oshkosh 2014.  The machine is impressive, the man, much more so. Ken is the kind of friend I always wanted to have in my life, but very rarely found. I cannot be unique in this, I am sure that most of Ken’s friends have spent some time considering that he is a better friend than most of us deserve. Ken’s standards of friendship challenge you to live up to your side of the bargain. -ww.

Veteran’s day story: Tammy Duckworth, aviator.

Builders:

A Corvair pilot sent me a link to this story. It is about marking the 10th anniversary (11/12/04) of Major Tammy Duckworth’s helicopter being hit in Iraq. Although she is a serving member of Congress today, Grace and I have known her a long time, and have a special family connection to her, noted below. This is a story of a veteran that transcends any political perspective.

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Tammy Duckworth is an American aviator of the first order. Note that she is planning on naming her daughter ‘Piper.’ In the story below is tells of her getting out of Walter Reed on a four day pass to go to Oshkosh. We had our 601XL in the Zenith booth that year and Tammy spent a few hours there. To their great credit, the Zenith crew treated her with deep respect and affection. She wanted to see if she would be able to get into a low wing plane unassisted. Although she had thousands of hours in helicopters, she confessed to having never been PIC in a fixed wing plane, and honestly asked if it was difficult; Roger Dubert  assured her that she would be fine as long as she didn’t try to hover. It was just as Tammy wanted, being joked with like any other aviator.

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My brother in law Col. John Nerges told me that in 30 years of nursing including heading the nursing intensive care unit of Walter Reed 2003-2005, he never saw a human fight to live with greater will than Major Duckworth.

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http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20141111/news/141119848/

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From our website in 2009:

Tammy Duckworth, above center, and her husband Bryan Bowlsbey, left,  at our booth at AirVenture 2009. From the right, Mark Petniunas , Dan Weseman  my wife Grace Ellen, myself, and Roy Szarafinski  Tammy and Bryan are old friends. Tammy had recently accepted a post as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.

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From our website in 2005:

“From The first stop on the trip was Washington, D.C. The officer in the center of the photo above is my brother-in-law John Nerges. He is head of the nurses in the intensive care ward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. On this day, Feb. 11, John was being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Although he is Airborne and Air Assault qualified, and has been deployed with both the 82nd and 101st Divisions, the focal point of John’s career is the care for severely wounded soldiers. The above photo was taken in the Eisenhower Suite at Walter Reed, where the ceremony was held. My sister Alison, herself a critical care nurse, left, and my father, a career naval officer, right, pinned on John’s insignia. It was a very moving ceremony where John’s promotion was read by a recovering, severely wounded Army helicopter pilot. The pilot’s mother was on hand to thank John and his staff personally for saving her daughter’s life. With characteristic humility, John said the credit was entirely for his staff. It was a most memorable day in my family’s history in many years. John had said that his only regret was that his own father, a veteran of World War II fighting in Burma, did not live to share the day with him. Our entire family is very proud of John.”

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From our Website in 2008:

“My 20 years of working with Corvairs have brought us many rewards. The most valuable of these is certainly the people we’ve met along the way. I can think of no other career which would have allowed us to cross paths with so many unique people we respect. At the very top of this pinnacle is Major Tammy Duckworth and her husband Bryan Bowlsbey. For a bit of background, read this link to our stop at Walter Reed Hospital in 2005. The helicopter pilot I was writing about was Major Duckworth. We did not use her name at the time because she was not publicly known and was still serving in the Army. We had actually met her and Brian briefly at Oshkosh several years before. Our brother-in-law John rarely speaks of his work, and never mentions any soldier’s name, thus seeing Tammy and Brian at the ceremony was unexpected. Through all of the unspeakable acts of human courage and endurance John has certainly seen, the survival of Major Duckworth in spite of her horrific wounds and 13 months at Walter Reed still astounds him.

Yet, she has done much beyond survival: She was subsequently appointed as the Director of Veterans Affairs for the State of Illinois. She has returned to flying in a Piper, and has plans to build a homebuilt. She is a relentlessly positive person. Her husband Bryan, an Army officer himself, who has just returned from another tour in Iraq, has been the kind of support we all vow to be on our wedding day, but few are called to live up to. Major Duckworth’s father was a Korean War veteran. He passed away while she was at Walter Reed. He was buried a few miles away at Arlington National Cemetery. It is my understanding that they are the only Father-Daughter Purple Heart combination in U.S. history.”

 

Thought for the day: Having two Achilles heels.

“Let me teach you something about some of the people who choose car engines: Some of them have two Achilles heels. they are cheap and they don’t like following the guidance of experienced people. It doesn’t matter what type of power plant a builder chooses if he has those two issues in his personality. Understand that car engines can attract people with that mindset, and it is the mind set, not the engine itself that causes the problem. I openly discourage people with those perspectives from working with the Corvair, and truthfully I am ok if they quit aviation all together. Cheap and unwilling to learn are not qualities of successful aviators.” -ww, 2014

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I wrote the comment above to a discussion list in response to a man who stated than none of his friends “had much luck” with auto engines in planes. I do not believe that luck exists, thus I think efforts based on it will be as fruitless as unicorn ranching. Conversely, I have always seen thought, consideration, learning, craftsmanship and prep work pay off. These things have nothing to do with luck, and are not the stomping grounds of people with two Achilles heels.

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For more food for thought get a look at: Unicorns vs Ponies.

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white and black pony with dirty hair standing in the snow Stock Photo - 8579493
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Above, typical pony. White one is deciding to kick or bite photographer; probable answer: Both. You do not need a scratch and sniff application to understand that this animal does not smell like roses.

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