Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #7, Nothing to Learn




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.




In 2011 the feds concluded an intensive study of homebuilts, and published a report that stated Experimental amateur built aircraft (Homebuilts) had an unacceptably high accident rate. They carefully pointed out where serious improvements could be made, and recommended that unless the rate got better voluntarily, they would seek some type of restrictions on hombuilt operations.


Below is a summary of major points of the report, provided by Corvair builder/pilot Dale Williams: (New 3,000 cc Cleanex, Dale Williams, SC )



1 )The largest proportion of E-AB aircraft accidents involved loss of control in flight
and power plant failures, and loss of control in flight has been the greatest contributor
to fatal E-AB aircraft accidents.

2) More than one-half of the E-AB aircraft accidents investigated in 2011 were aircraft
that had been purchased used, rather than built by the current owner.

3) A large proportion of accidents occurs early in the operating life of a new E-AB
aircraft, or shortly after being purchased by a new owner.

4) During 2011, more E-AB aircraft accidents occurred during the first flight by a new
 owner of a used E-AB aircraft than during the first flight of a newly-built aircraft.

5) The most common accident occurrence for first flights of both newly-built and newly
purchased aircraft was loss of control in flight.


One of the really starting things in the report was that the accident rate for second owners with 2,500 or more hours as PIC in LSA legal homebuilts  is actually higher than 60 hour brand new light sport pilots in the same planes. A great part of this is Light Sport pilots are required to get specific transition instruction to fly a new type, and traditional pilots are not, and frequently don’t. The real culprit is that many pilots who have accumulated hours don’t feel they have anything to learn about their new homebuilt, especially if they perceive it to be simpler than what they were flying……many of his people have been dead wrong about this.


Last month, I received an email from a pilot with a lot of ratings who had just become the second owner of a Corvair powered 601XL. In the email, and in a phone conversation he stated that he didn’t find a single word in the flight operations manual worth reading, and specifically stated that he was against transition training. Below, a verbatim excerpt from one of his emails:


“I’m sure my flight might be of interest to your customers. And I intend to share my flight with the 601xl crowd. I have found little if any use in the corvair flight manual ( I am a professional pilot ATP-ME, Comm  A+I, CFI-IAME, AGI,  and A&P). “


This is the exact attitude that produces a higher accident rate than 60 hr pilots. I will never teach one of these guys anything, and it isn’t my goal to do so. My goal is to teach people who want to learn. In you are new to flying, please read this story: Concerned about your potential?. Never believe the myth that pilots with 4 or 5 digits worth of hours are “safer” than you. Actual risk management lies not with hours, but with attitude, and the willingness to exercise good judgment. The accumulation of hours and ratings are not synonymous with possession of attitude and judgment. You don’t have to take my word for this, or even the evidence of the email above. This has now been statistically proven in the 2011 report.


Use this understanding to choose who you fly with carefully. In our own EAA chapter we have several airline pilots with more than 25,000 hours who went out and bought RV’s as second owners. Some of them did it the right way, but a number of them never had a tail wheel rating, no transition training, and lacked any kind of basic information on the plane before flying it.


One of them fly his new plane at 140 mph for many hours back home because he thought 2,300 rpm was the redline of a Lycoming (It’s 2,700) He never leaned it out even though he went above 10,000′, and arrived after dark and ran over three runway lights because he of course had no tailwheel experience. This man flew in the Navy, and then earned his living as an airline pilot. He has all the posturing one associates with the phrase ‘highly experienced pilot’. Meaningless to me, I would never fly in a light plane with him because he has no judgment. If you are new to flying, consider yourself un poisoned by that man’s disease, stay away from him, after prolonged exposure it is contagious. Set your goal today to be better than him. It may take time, but statistically speaking by the time you have 60 hours, you will be at lower 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.

One Response to Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #7, Nothing to Learn

  1. Joe Goldman says:

    I measured the angles of my wing and found that the right wing had a not wanted twist and a 1 degree angle of incidence greater then the left. The first thought was; What kind of trim tab could I make to compensate for the extra lift. Maybe I would throw it out to the internet and get some ideas. I then thought of flying with my son. After having a pro go over the wing I am now removing the skins. The pro was asked, after I stared at the offending appendage and measured the same angles over and over (the definition of insanity) I cant use the top skin as it will be corroded with my salty tears. Then again my NY friends will not be saying, “What a Shmuck”. Thanks William. At the start of my build my mindset might be to go with a Doo Hickey.

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