Gary Boothe’s Pietenpol, flying video

Builders,

Here is a link to a 5 minute You-tube video of Gary Boothe flying his Corvair powered Pietenpol around the pattern in his home state of California:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3aWGxwgSuw

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Above, Gary stands with the plane in a rear quarter view. It is a beautiful period piece of aviation, but it utilizes a fully up to date Corvair engine with electric start and a 5th bearing.

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Above, One of my favorite photos of the Corvair movement,  Gary Boothe on the left and Patrick Hoyt on the right point to their hometowns on a map at Brodhead in 2009. These two builders are featured in this story and the one before. They are both out flying and having a great time in planes they built, powered by engines they built. I know them both, they are different individuals, but they share the fundamental perspective that homebuilding should be distilled to “Learn, build and Fly.”

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To get the background of Gary’s building and flying, read this:

New Pietenpol, Gary Boothe, Cool, Calif.

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Pat and Mary Hoyt’s 601XL, on the cover.

Builders:

Pat and Mary Hoyt made the cover of EAA experimenter, the association’s on-line homebuilding magazine. Below is the cover. Sebastien Heintz wrote up a link to the story on Zenith Builders and flyers, the factory’s very well supported and organized discussion group that serves several thousand of their builders.

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Cover Story: Pat Hoyt and his Corvair-powered Zenith

Pat Hoyt and his Corvair-powered Zenith on the cover of this month’s EAA Experimenter magazine. Here is the link to the whole article:
http://experimenter.epubxp.com/i/449720

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This is the second Corvair powered plane to make the cover in a year (the Panther was on it a few months ago), 1/6 of the covers is a pretty good showing for the Corvair movement. These stories along with the film on Colleges the EAA staff made are good evidence that Headquarters does have a good take on grass roots flying for rank and file members. The story above contains a link to the full 25 minute film made at Corvair College #27.

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For more reading on Pat and Mary Hoyt:

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Patrick Hoyt, new Zenith 601XL, now flying, N-63PZ

 

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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. Pat and Mary’s plane in in the upper corner. 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.

 

 

Close to last call, Corvair College #32

Builders:

This note came from Corvair college local co-host Shelley Tumino:

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I know that many of the alumni from CC22 and CC28 have already registered for CC32, and I want to thank you.  This year is shaping up to be the largest college we have hosted to date.  We have 59 people registered (including tag-a-long spouses).  I wanted to give the last hold outs a final opportunity to get registered.  We have room for 6 more engines, and as many people as wish to come. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity, registration will close on Friday, 23 January 2015

Did I mention it was 81 degrees in Austin today? I really hope to see you there!

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

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Shelley Tumino

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More info:

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Above, at Corvair College #24, we awarded The Cherry Grove Trophy to Pietenpol builders and flyers  Kevin  and his very supportive better half Shelley   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

 

 

Ernie Brace, American Aviator, dead at 83

Builders,

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I opened a letter from my Father today, and the only thing inside was a newspaper clipping. It was the New York Times obituary of an American aviator.  A man with a rare depth of human will. His name was Ernest Brace.

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Briefly: He enlisted in the Marines at age 15; In the Korean war he is the first man to fly 100 attack missions; a decade later in a moment of despair he leaves the scene of a plane he crashed alone and goes AWOL, is thrown out of the Marines. To recover his reputation he goes to Laos and files covert missions as a civilian for the CIA; he is captured and tortured, spends years alone in a tiny bamboo cage in the jungle; No word of his capture is known, his family assumes him to be dead, his wife marries another man; He is transferred to the Hanoi Hilton, but never sees the face of another American; When his is contacted by tap code, the years of isolation have reduced him to only being able to tap out the single phrase “My name is Ernest Brace” for many weeks; US POWs McCain and Stockdale uphold Brace as the example of how an American is to comport himself in conflict; He is released in 1973 after 2,868 days in captivity;  Then he is told his wife has remarried; He is crippled, has a 100% VA disability rating, but rejects this to restart his life; President Ford awards Brace a full pardon and honorable discharge for the incident 15 years earlier. Brace goes on to a full life, is married again, works in aviation globally for Sikorski, the State Department and Evergreen; he passes from this earth, 5 December 2014, he was 83 years old.

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How this relates to the homebuilt plane in your shop:

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In the years that you will work on your creation, you will have at least 200 people tell you that you are doing the wrong thing. you should quit. This will not just be in the form of a coworker or a brother in law calling your creation a ‘death trap’ repeatedly. It will also come in the form of other fliers who are EAA members, but would never even fly in a homebuilt, far less create one, telling you just to buy a plane, to give up on self reliant craftsmanship, just because  they did.

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When people offer you this unsolicited advice, trying to have you quit, think of a man, with a destroyed reputation, with no one looking for him, held captive and tortured in the jungle for years with out a single act of kindness or human compassion shown to him, not a single friendly word spoken to him. All he had was his inner belief that he was on the right path. Politely nod and ignore them, and to yourself think “My name is “ and “I am a Homebuilder.”

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In the celebrity obsessed country that physically surrounds us, fills every popular magazine, advertisement, film, website, book and broadcast, we are presented a distorted group of lives as admirable for a meaningless collection of supposed ‘talents’, all to get people to compulsively buy some product.

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In the America that exists in my heart, school children learn the name Ernest Brace, and it is lovingly taught that all humans have faults, but they will be fairly measured against supreme acts of will and courage. In the country of my heart there is a long marble path in a quiet green park with bronze statues of a pantheon of Americans truly to be admired. On this foggy day I walk past many statues with names like Grissom, Loring, Sijan and Stockdale, to one newly emplaced. I lay a wreath of admiration at the base which simply states:

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“Ernest Brace -American Aviator”

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Ernie Brace (without helmet) in Korea with an AD-1 Skyraider. Note the number of missions marked on the fuselage. You can read his very moving memoir, “A Code to Keep.

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Further reading:

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Robert Hedrix, Aviator, Nha Trang, 1975

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James Stockdale – Philosophy

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A Father’s Day Story – Lance Sijan

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Charles Poland Jr., An American of whom you could be proud.

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“Thought for the day” collection

Builders:

Collected below are several dozen links to “thought for the day” stories, along with an extract to trip the memory. You can click on any colored title to read the whole story. I suggest reading the comments also, as other builders have often shared insights on the topics.

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I have often pointed out that I try to share a lot more than motor assembly skills with builders. Most of the stories below do not center on Corvairs, but instead on the human condition in aviation. As much as I love machines, aviators are far more interesting, and many of the values and ethics of aviators are timeless and unchanged since 1903.  From craftsmanship to courage, the hardware changes but the human condition does not. To find your place in the arena of flight, It is best to understand this timeless truth going in. -ww.

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Apology in advance: Thoughts here are only meant to have people consider their own perspective. I have no desire for anyone to adopt mine nor agree with it. I like to think of it as thought provoking, not thought providing.

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Thought for the Day: Aviation as an Endeavor ““At any real level, flying is not a sport, a hobby a pastime nor entertainment. It is an Endeavor, worthy of every hour of your life you invest; Those that dabble in it find only high cost, poor reward and serious risk. They are approaching it as consumers. Conversely, for those who devote their best efforts and their serious commitment, the rewards are without compare.”

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Thought for the Day “The luckiest man on the face of the earth” “As a homebuilder, you can pick any era in aviation you love, build a plane from that period, and go visit it just as it was, any time you like. A plane is a time machine that can transport you to the mindset of any time. “

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Thought for the day #2 – To the new homebuilder “If you are new to the world of homebuilding, and maybe even flying, here’s something that you may not suspect: you’re actually in an excellent position to avoid the actions of fools.”

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Thought for the Day: Rickover – Hope is not a strategy “Rickover developed a rabid devotion to quality control and the understanding of human factors. These are common ground to building and flying planes. “

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Thought for the Day: Focused on Learning ” This is the real valuable thing you can get out of all the hours in the shop, the one thing that you will not loose even if a tornado wrecks your plane or it burns to the ground. Homebuilding is about how it changes your mindset.”

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Thought for the Day: Comfort vs Sensation ” Flying in light planes is a cornucopia of sensory input that you don’t get in modern cars; sounds, bumps, smells wind, tactile feel on the controls. For those who like the sensations of reality, it is rich pay dirt.”

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Thought for the Day: “Foolproof -1950″ ” you may have a moment of awareness, and see with clarity where much of society is headed. I am going out to work in the hangar, because it is my form of driving in the other direction.”

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Thought for the Day: Time…..Your enemy. ” There is a combination of simplicity/effort/money that can get a great number of people flying. You can be one of them, and the odds that you will be go up dramatically if you use my experience to avoid every mistake I made and paid for.”

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Thought for the Day: J.S. Mill – On Liberty. “If you follow Mill’s argument in depth, he explains why the nanny state ends up degrading the value of all lives, not just the ones belonging to self destructive people, morons and people yet unacquainted with the finality of death.”

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Thought For The Day: Mechanical Instruments “In another 15 years, many  of the glass cockpits of today, almost all the MGL stuff from South Africa, all the I-Pads built by virtual slave labor in China, all the garbage like Blue Mountain and Archangel will all be lining the bottoms of landfills accompanying used diapers and copies of People magazine featuring the Kardashians. “

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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. The are cheap, and they don’t like following the guidance of experienced people. It doesn’t matter what powerplant a builder chooses if he has those two issues in his personality.”

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

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Thought for the Day: Mastery or? ” Those who settle for the instruction and company of flyers who’s standard is the minimum to get by, will be no better themselves, and one day they may very well encounter a set of conditions that are 1% above their minimum skills.”

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Thought for the Day: Your Personal Masterpiece ” Your engine is your personal masterpiece. You should be tempted to pull the cowl off and just marvel at it for no reason.  You should drag passers-by at the airport into your hangar and proudly say “LOOK! I built That!” With an arm gesture that magicians use as they say “TAA-DAA!”

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Thought for the day: “Censorship” on the net “On any discussion group where people who are known only was “Flyboy26″ or “RVguyCN” have the exact same size soap box as people with real names, specific experience, links to photos, there is no chance for new people to sort useful reality from dangerous fiction.”

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Thought for the day: Being simple and done. ” The most simple flying plane, even if it is not aesthetically pure, or record light, provides more satisfaction than any masterpiece that is over budget and years behind schedule, sitting in a garage, that will fly ‘someday’.”

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Thought for the Day: Obsession with electronics “As a general rule, people in aviation have an interest that exceeds their job description. While there are obviously plenty of avionics guys who know how to fly, build, navigate, or what ever, most people who work in aviation would gladly tell you that avionics people tend to think of the rest of the aircraft as a support system for the panel.”

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Thought for the Day: The color of your Day. “I have the personal perspective that the chain of days in the calendar of life are all delivered in a black and white format. The 1,440 minutes that make up each of them pass in a gray flow unless a genuine effort is made to paint them with color, the color of real life.”

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Thought for the Day: Two paths in managing risk “Simply put, I have had a front row seat to countless examples of dangerous thinking and seen the results. I have enough stories, but right now, someone is working on adding to the list. Just make sure it isn’t you.”

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Thought for the day: The Cost of Economy ” Learn this WW aircraft philosophy axiom, and your airplane building will be a lot happier:“Doing things the right way usually costs a fair amount of money, but doing them the cheap way always costs a fortune.”

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Thought for the Day: Essential vs Accessory ” “A conspicuous consumer only has the admiration of the envious spectator. A craftsman, an innovator and a champion have the admiration of real aviators.”

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Thought for the day: Decisions of Consequence ” Antibiotics, airbags and personal bankruptcy law are all things that take the real consequences away from bad decisions people make today. Flight is just the reverse, Physics, chemistry and gravity always insuring serious consequences for bad choices.”

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Thought for the Day: Planes as ‘transportation,’ The timer on the dash may record the exact number of minutes aloft, but it seems untrustworthy. The correct answer seems to be that I have been gone months not minutes, that I have been to a place thousands of miles away not thousands of feet away.  It is just not possible to explain to people that a plane is the only vehicle that can transport you like that.”

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Thought for the Day, D-Day at 70 years “It was not the largest nor most lethal battle in WWII, but it is a critical day in the war and thus of the 20th century and by extension the world we live in today. This was purchased for us by individuals who we will never meet, paying a terrible price.”

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Thought for the day: The need to Know. “The camera doesn’t do the event justice. It illuminated the entire southern end of the airport; you could have read a newspaper 500’ away. At most airports this would have brought firefighters, hazmat people and the news media. At our airport it brought more people with beer.”

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Thought for the day: Demand for the Truth. “As Scarce as the truth is, supply has always been in excess of demand.” -Josh Billings.

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Thought for the day: Basic human skills “Heinlein’s personal code was about the individual having actual skill, experiences and wisdom. Not to impress others, but for the simple human satisfaction of being a developed human with a richer life. “

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Thought for the day: Virtue vs Depravity “Show me once that someone is a dangerous idiot, and I will never put myself in the position of needing to trust nor count on that person again. Aviation does not always give second chances. If you are new to flying, be advised that it is admirable to grant the benefit of the doubt to others, only outside the airport fence.

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Thought for the Day: What are you thankful for? “The secret I would like to share with anyone who at times feels the same way, is that I have a sanctuary where I am insulated from much of my self-criticism, and a have a front, where at 50, I am much better on than I thought possible in my youth.”

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Thought for the day: Challenge of an open mind ” My personal definition of being an aviator is to travel, not in the geographic sense, but from who you were before to who you are today, to who you will be tomorrow. Clifford’s quote describes the sin of these three places having no space between them.”

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Thought for the day: Calculated Risk “Today our society is obsessed with celebrity culture, people famous for going to rehab, actors with little talent, talk show people with nothing to say, and all day to say it. It is a distorted reality, and I choose to ignore it and focus on a time when we thought more clearly and knew what made individuals worth admiring.”

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Thought for the day: Leaving the hive behind “In my book, humans are individuals, not insects. Any person who chooses do something simply because he wants to is affirming this. Any person who picks up a tool and sets out on a journey to create something of his choosing, a goal that does not serve the hive of society, can expect both the disdain of  the hive and the warm welcome of other individuals.”

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Thought for the day: Finishing planes “Completing the plane isn’t success, learning is. A guy who listens to no one learns nothing and often creates the poor flying hangar queen. His completed plane might be a rarity, but the mindset of not being willing to consider anything that might evolve one’s views is quite common today.”

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Thought for the day: Your brothers keeper? “He has a very kind way about him. I am embarrassed to say this, but first I thought he was mentally handicapped, but after a minute I realized that he is just polite and a good listener, and has been freed of the illusion of self-importance that infects almost everyone you met this week.”

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Thought for the day: “100% Safe planes.” You will never be able to get into any type of aircraft and be 100% certain that you will be unhurt at the end of the flight. So why fly? Because there are things in life worth doing even if they carry a known risk of death. “

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Thought for the day: Choosing to be alive ““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.”

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Thought for the day: Who do you trust? ”  You write stuff like “Unicorns vs Ponies” and point out the new head of the EAA has a fake engineering degree, they don’t invite you to the cocktail parties anymore. That’s ok, I got into homebuilding to learn, build and fly, not be part of a marketing industry. Being welcomed into the workshop of a homebuilder is a real experience and a greater honor than being mistaken for an “Industry insider.”

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Thought for the day: Who will build our planes? “In 1946, Cessna was something of a partner to American labor in producing that generation of affordable American aircraft. Today,  they have proven to be a worthless element. Each of us, developing our own craftsmanship, will work in our own one plane factory and produce our own aircraft. This is how American labor will build this generation of affordable aircraft. “

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Thought for the Day: Importance of Affordable Aircraft “Aviation magazines are always highlighting the best, fastest, most elaborate planes with a moronic argument that these will stimulate aviation by getting people interested. Perhaps after decades of  this fiction, we can dismiss it. You don’t build a pyramid by making the top block and expecting the base to appear under it.

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Thought for the day: Building as an individual. “Bach’s point is that if every act is judged on the sole merit of its value to society, we will end up with the conformity of a flock of seagulls, complete with their compulsive need to peck non-conforming individuals to death, just to protect the uniformity. “

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Thought for the day: Getting Started. ” Real value isn’t based just on what it cost, it is far more affected by the other side of the equation…what did you get out of it? On this point, the majority of builders cheat themselves.”

 

 

A positive path, well planned, Zenith 650 in the works

Builders,

The letter below came in as a comment on the previous story on punctuation. I like it enough to break it out and give it it’s own place on the stage. It is a very good example of good planning. I have found that builders who careful approach decisions, and really consider them have a vastly better completion rate than people who make a snap decision or instant evaluation.

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Over the years I have noted that many people who look at a Corvair for 2 minutes and claim it is brilliant and equally rapidly judge myself to be a flawless gentleman, will in a short time, over some minor bump in the road, rapidly decide that Corvairs are terrible and I am a dangerous moron. Some people fall in and out of their fairy tale romance quickly. The type of decision process outlined below always works out a lot better in the long run. Steady progress comes from a solid understanding of the strengths and advantages of an engine program and the honest evaluation of weather or not they fit ones needs.

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the letter below, Earnie mentions heading to Corvair College #28 after a careful evaluation, and how he found his home in homebuilding among the builders there. This was the College we held in Texas last year. The two men he is speaking of are well known Corvair builders and pilots Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee and Zenith 601XL-3100cc Dr. Andy Elliott. Kevin was 1/2 of our host team, and Andy flew his 601 in from Arizona. For a look at the event itself, Corvair College #28, San Marcos, Texas.

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Occasionally a new builder will hear of the many aviation professionals like Kevin and Andy we have in the Corvair movement, and tell me they are concerned about fitting in because they are new to homebuilding or aviation. I point out that if you are new, then by all means make sure you strongly consider becoming a Corvair guy, because it is critical for your own development and safety to spend your building months and years in the company of people who know what they are doing, take the task seriously, and work in the Corvair movements ethic of giving back to new arrivals. If you are new, take a moment to read: Concerned about your potential?

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 At Corvair College #28 Andy Elliott took a number of builders for their first flight in a Corvair powered plane, as weather permitted. This is fun, but it is also valid training. Understanding what a properly running engine sounds and feels like in the cockpit is important. An essential element of the Corvair movement is the willingness of the successful and the skilled to return to share this with the other builders.

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To experience this first hand at Corvair College #32: Corvair College #32, 27 Feb. in TX, Filling up fast.

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William,

A little over two years ago I decided that I was going to build a plane. I then started my search for which plane to build and after defining my mission and whittling away those that didn’t fit; I decided that the Zenith CH 650 B was the one.

In January of 2013 I ordered the plans and, for whatever reason at the time, my attention went to which engine to use. As I did my research it quickly became apparent, if I chose an “aircraft” engine, that easily half the whole cost of the aircraft would be spent firewall forward! Plus I would have to come up with the full engine price in a short time frame. As I am sure you know, this can cause quite a dark cloud to hang over the whole project. Not a deal breaker but quite a steep mountain to climb for someone who is not made of money.

During my research I had come across your website and began to frequent it more. I must admit that the initial draw for me was the idea of being able to have an engine at half the price of others and to be able to extend the cash outflow for it over and number of years.

By the time of Sun-N-Fun 2013 I had some knowledge of the Corvair engine but was still not committed to using it. I went to Sun-N-Fun 2013 with two main objectives, first to get a better look at the CH 650 B (having chosen it I still wanted to see it and sit in it) and second to look at engines.

I write all this to say that while at Sun-N-Fun I saw a lot of salesmen dressed nicely in their booths passing out their fliers. I saw you in your booth also, and with some observation picked you out as the proprietor of the establishment. I must admit, again, that your outward appearance, the long hair, blue jeans and tee shirt, was not the expected business presentation. I perused your displays but didn’t introduced myself.

I left Sun-N-Fun absolutely sure of my choice in the Zenith and on the verge of being committed to using the Corvair. Getting home I continued to read your website and began to be impressed by two main things that I found there. First (and foremost), I noticed that those who had converted a Corvair for aircraft use showed it can have (if done correctly) an excellent expectation of reliability. Second, some of the people who are using the Corvair in aircraft are aviation professionals with impressive credentials. Two of those, who you have mentioned yourself and I have met personally (CC #28), are Kevin Purtee (a military pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 4 and has flown combat missions in Iraq) and Andrew Elliot (an MIT graduate and holds a PhD in Aerospace Engineering). Surely if these have chosen the Corvair, with their experience and understanding of the need for a piece of equipment to be reliable and trustworthy, I should be able to use it for my plane also.
I am glad that I didn’t let any type of stereotypical first impressions stop me from pursuing and learning about what will become the power plant on the front of my airplane.

William, many in our society today don’t want to hear the truth. The truth doesn’t make them feel good about their bad choices or remove the responsibility for them. I have a saying that I tell others when they want to tell me something but don’t know how, “Tell me the truth. I can handle the truth, good or bad. What I can’t handle is someone lying to me.” So keep telling the truth, you have someone who appreciates it and is learning from it!

Earnie Fontenot

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Notes on Punctuation and Grammar

Update: The builder who sent the note that sparked this story sent along another that better explained his thoughts, and I admire him for doing so. It is just below. I want builders reading the story to understand that it isn’t about spelling, the central point is that we all have things that cause us to loose focus on available learning. In Dave’s case he pointed out my spelling and grammar is a distraction; It is no different than myself not learning from Chandler Titus because he didn’t acknowledge me. The point I want everyone to know is that aviation doesn’t afford the luxury of allowing any distraction, big, small, personal or public, from getting between you and what you need to know.-ww.

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  William: I meant to compliment you on a daily offering that was not only insightful, but grammatically clean—positive reinforcement works better than criticism. I appreciate your quest for mechanical perfection, which results in excellence and progress. Keep writing. I learned something. Dave N475dg

Builders,

The letter below showed up in the comments section of my story about making 2015 your year in aviation. It was not a private email, the sender was  saying it to all readers:

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Dave G.

Congratulations! No grammatical errors, misspellings, or misuse of apostrophes. Seriously, this makes it easier for some of us to take seriously. Dave

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To Dave and all the other people who don’t take what I write seriously because it has spelling and punctuation errors:

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I began to read and write very young, before I was four. I started school more than a year early, and was always very bright. When I was a 10 years old and we were living in Thailand, it was a very safe place and I was out riding my bicycle many miles from home. On an empty country road I was hit by a driver in a car who left me for dead. Several people saw this, but there were strong spiritual, cultural and legal reasons why they did not offer any assistance.

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I awoke in the ditch after something like an hour. I found my way home, under the illusion that several years had past. I was in the 5th field hospital on Sukumvit road for a week, beside soldiers fresh out of Vietnam. There was a long year of tests and nightmares, not a lot of fun for a kid.

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The end result is that I have a particular type of brain injury, and I have never been able to spell nor see grammatical errors since, and I can only read at the same pace I can speak. In written text, even common words like ‘went’ look correctly spelled to me as booth ‘went’ and whent’ before spell check, my only ability to differentiate them was by pronouncing them at a snails pace. Looking at something I wrote at 4 am, I have no ability to tell if the spell check was on or off, and it doesn’t work well for me.

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In conversation with me you would never suspect anything like this, but that is because conversation is 100% phonetic, and this is the pathway in my brain that gets all the work. In the last 42 years, the phonetic elements have been worked to the point that I have a phenomenal memory for spoken conversation, and I can retrieve quotes from books I read a decade ago, because when I read them, I did so slowly, pronouncing everything to make it phonetic instead of visual.  None of the last 3 trucks I have owned have had a radio. I don’t need it. driving down the road late at night, I can remember note for note any song I have ever heard a few times.

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Being practical, I have a lot of things to share about airplane building, and the choices are to burden my wife with doing this for all the material I share, or not writing it.  If you like the direct honesty of the tone, I will tell you that it comes out at 4am, and if it is fed through the editing process, I am given a few hours to consider how some people will take it wrong, and invariably, it gets diluted or deleted, because when I think about our national obsession with criticizing the work of others or taking offense at things, I often never send things because when you are speaking of subjects like people you loved who’s life ended at 23, it is unpleasant have to consider people who critique it for bad grammar.

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A bigger point, that directly relates to me sharing what I know about the serious subject of building your plane. I have pointed out many times, that a builder has a moral obligation to his passengers to gather proven information on how to build the best plane he can, from All sources, not just ones he finds pleasant. The very honest story about Chandler Titus below is directly written on this subject. If it has grammatical errors, I don’t want to hear about it.

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 Although I have a lot to share, Some people are not going to take it seriously because it doesn’t meet his grammatical standards. This is nothing new to me. Last year, I directly told a guy, in person, not to do something, and 50 minutes later he tried it, and wrecked the plane. His friend offered the observation “If you had short hair, he would have listened, but he wanted to prove that he didn’t listen to people he perceived as hippies.”

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Many people think that my contribution to what they might know about planes is somehow limited to how to bolt a particular engine together. In reality, I could teach any 12 year old how to torque rod bolts. Learning concepts like how it is your moral obligation to learn from people, even ones who are unpleasant, have long hair and don’t spell correctly, does far more to reduce your risk and that of your passengers than anything I am going to show you about manipulating wrenches.

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Chandler Titus, 25 missions in a B-17 Ball turret, Pilot in the Berlin Airlift, worked at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for more than 50 years. Read the story to understand that very limited amounts of your potential knowledge will come in ‘nice’ packages.

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ERAU – models of integrity #2

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“Maybe half the stuff I know about planes comes from people I would never have chosen as a friend. I am fully aware there are many good reasons to dislike me. Do not set your goal on being friends with me, set it on learning everything I can teach you. That exchange in itself is a better basis for friendship than initially ‘liking’ someone. Trust me, on my worst day, I could run the White House protocol and etiquette department compared to Mr. Titus. I don’t know what he knew, but I am 50 times the people person he was. If I am not your kind of person, don’t let it stop you from learning what I have to share.”

Corvair College #32, 27 Feb. in TX, Filling up fast.

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 .

I spoke with Shelley last night, and she pointed out that we only have table space for 13 more engine builders. We can sign up many more guests than this, but we have a finite amount of work tables and space for them at this college, and we are getting close to that limit. If you are planning on working on an engine at CC#32, but have not signed up, now is the time to do so.

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We have not picked out a date to cut off the sign up, but we are thinking about January 15th, but I am sure that the table space will be gone before this. Do not miss this opportunity, it is the only College we will have in the south central US this year.

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This College is at the same location as CC #28. Sign up has now been active since the start of November,  The event is now just 53 days away.

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

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To learn more about colleges:

Corvair College reference page

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Near the end of Corvair College#22, we took a moment for Kevin, myself, Grace, Scoob E and Shelley to have a portrait with the tail of Kevin’s aircraft.

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Above, ScoobE wrapped in blankets  at  CC #22. When you only weigh 9 pounds, you don’t have a lot of spare insulation. When it got good and chilly, Scoob E enjoyed a pile of blankets on his chair at the College.

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You can not predict weather in Texas, but you can be assured of good times. In Texas we have previously had 72 degrees and sunny, and a 28 degree blizzard with 45 mph winds, at the same college. The college goes on just the same. We are in a large secure hangar, but it has limited climate control. Prepared builders pack several levels of clothing.

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CC#22: Above, Kevin and I talk policy by the tail of his Pietenpol, while Greg Crouchley from Rhode Island eyeballs an engine on the test stand in the background. A handful of builders present had never seen a running Corvair before and were duly impressed with the smoothness and the ease that it started with on a 45° day.

Kevin briefs other builders on his installation.  Start to finish the plane took 17 years to complete. My Golden Rule of Experimental Aviation is “Persistence Pays.”

 At CC #22: Pietenpol builder Mark Chouinard of Oklahoma, at left above, standing next to him is Robert Caldwell, who ran his engine on his birthday at Corvair College 21. He is also a Pietenpol builder.

 

The last day of the College #22 brought excellent weather and sunny skies. Kevin flies his Pietenpol there.

 

When you’re a badass like Kevin, any hat you wear is The Hat of Power.

 

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Above, at Corvair College #24, we awarded The Cherry Grove Trophy to Pietenpol builders and flyers  Kevin  and his very supportive better half Shelley   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

Waiting for the bus from Unicorntown to Cyberville

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Many people want to believe that some new product in aviation will arrive and ‘revolutionize’ everything. I think the root of this fantasy is that they would like the work and learning to be removed and save them the effort required to stand in front of a machine and say “I built this plane.” I have been in aviation for 25 years, I have seen 25 seasons of ‘revolutionary!’ things come and go with little or no affect on accessibility to flight for working Americans.

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I have watched many of the same people get taken in by a new ‘revolutionary!’ idea every few years, never seeing that they would have been long flying if they had just given up on ‘new revolutionary!’ products with lottery ticket odds of success, and instead embraced the philosophy of proven designs with a track record in place of a promise. These people often willfully ignore that the providers of this years miracle product are frequently the same people behind a previously promoted miracle.

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( I have published some elements of this before, but it is worth reading at the start of a new year, now when the is an opportunity to consider and plan for 2015. I guarantee progress for people who plan and work, people who choose to wait also have a guarantee: that nothing will happen.-ww. )

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Above, Phil Maxon’s 601XL airborne over the Florida coast at Ponce Inlet, 2006. Phil started the kit in NJ in 2000, worked on it until bringing it down to our hangar at the end of 2005 for engine installation, inspection and having it’s test time flown off. It was the second Corvair powered 601XL, after our own.

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Phil has a very busy life as a husband, father, corporate program manager, and community member. He did not neglect these commitments, he fit the kit in around them. Five years may sound like a long time, but consider that he has now had the aircraft flying for 8 years of adventures. This includes many long trips, perfect flights, and moments that last a lifetime. He is a vastly more knowledgeable mechanic now, and something of a motorhead. He did not endlessly look for a short cut. Conversely, he studied his options, made a plan, and stuck with it. The golden rule of homebuilding: Persistence Pays. Read more at this link: Phil Maxson goes to 3,000 cc for his 601XL

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Getting out the book, rolling up ones sleeves and getting your hands dirty is a serious act of self-empowerment, the acknowledgement that your own aircraft will only come from your understanding and labor. There is no ‘miracle, revolutionary, high tech’ white knight solution that will arrive at your shop and suddenly provide you with access to the world of personal experimental flight without learning and work. Yet, this year, as all previous years, we will see a majority of potential builders sit and wait and exchange rumors of the imminent arrival of their white knight. Often their adherence to this philosophy is absolute, they will still be waiting many years from now,when the last page of their story is written.

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Here is my perspective: Aviation costs money. About the least expensive plane I can picture has an all up cost of $10,000. Let’s say that you take 8 years to build it, that’s $1,250/year or $3 and 42 cents a day. If you smoke or drink coffee, you spend a lot more than this. Don’t like to hear about 8 years? Want to change that? Here is the easy way: Do nothing this year, and next year it will be nine years. $20 a day for 3 years is $21,900. For that kind of money you can have many airplanes. Being wealthy isn’t the key, getting started is.

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Take this thought with you: You can’t really change the cost of planes by more than 25% or 35% even by extreme scrounging and plans building. There is no way to drop the cost by 75%, stuff just costs money at some point. Here is what you do control: What you get out of building and flying. Picture two guys, both spend 4 years, and 2,000 hours building a plane, and 50 hours aloft and 200 studying to get a LSA rating. It’s five years into it. If guy “A” was a super scrounger, bought a used kit and spent only $20K vs guy “B” who spent $34K for the same plane by purchasing a kit and getting all his parts from Aircraft Spruce instead of the flymart, Which builder got the better value? Who won?

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The correct answer: The guy who actually mastered each skill, learned the why’s of every step, didn’t just do every task to minimums, but aimed to master it. The guy who sought to know every piece and part of his plane and its correct care, feeding and operation. He aimed higher, did more. He has been changed by the experience, the guy who just did the minimums only accomplished the task, but it wasn’t transformative. Real value isn’t based just on what it cost, it is far more affected by the other side of the equation…what did you get out of it? On this point, the majority of builders cheat themselves. Reading the book Stick and Rudder is all about aiming to get the best value out of the hours of your life you invest in homebuilding and flying. The book is for aviators who will master light plane flight, not just be adequate at it. Use this pattern in everything you do in aviation. It is far better to be the master of a simplified plane and flight plan than just barely in control of a set of circumstances. Let aviation be the part of your life without compromise.

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Years ago I was a contributor to a large Internet discussion group. If you read the archives, I left 400 stories there, before I was banned for life due to poor etiquette. In retrospect, most of my time there was wasted. In 10 years, the site produced only a handful of flyers, most of whom were already regular builders of ours. The great majority of the several hundred readers there were just doing one thing: Waiting.

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What for you ask? Something better than what I was showing them could be done. I was basically showing how a very good engine that weighed 225 pounds, cost $5,000, burned 5 gallons an hour, and lasted 1,000 hours could be built, if you were willing to learn a little and get your hands dirty, and think some. Yet the vast majority of readers thought that was not good enough. Every time some troll/daydreamer/psycho surfaced and said “I know how to save 35 pounds!” they waited to see how he would do it. When people said “I know how to have an EFI system for $200,” they waited to see how it worked. When people said “We can use shareware and develop this as a Net group,” people waited. Every new thing discussed, virtually all of which turned out to be pure unicorns, was cause for these men to wait.

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Their waiting is partially driven by the “consumer electronics experience.” To these people, their cell phones were vastly better and far cheaper than the ones they had 10 years before, why shouldn’t they expect the same from Corvairs? Because it is the mechanical world, not electronics, and it doesn’t work that way in metal, and things that you can fly. Popular Mechanics has been telling readers for 60 years that personal helicopters are 2 years away,  People who wait eat this stuff up as the sand runs out of their personal hour-glass.

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Many of the ones who were there 10 years ago are still there waiting, certain that this week, someone will show up and tell them how to build a 170 pound Corvair that has EFI, is reliable, burns 2.5 gallons per hour, makes 130 hp, assembles itself, lasts 2,500 hours for an investment of $1,500, no check that, $995. They will be waiting there in another 10 years because that bus isn’t ever going to come. The rainbow bus line from Unicorntown doesn’t have a stop on reality street, it only is headed to cyberville, and there is no airport in cyberville.

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Decide tonight that you will not be one of these people.

Corvair College #32, Texas, 27 Feb. 2015

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-ww.

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Further reading: Unicorns vs Ponies.

 

2015 Your year in aviation?

Builders:

I pose the title as a question because what you get out of aviation in 2015 will largely be up to you.

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Ken Pavlou holds the Cherry Grove trophy at CC#31 Barnwell 2014. His aircraft is named “The Blue Speedo.”  He just wrote in yesterday to say the plane now has 200 hours on it, about 30 hours a month since it was finished. In 2014 this included flying off his 40 hours, a week at Oshkosh, and a long trip to Barnwell SC. These events came to his life, not because he was lucky, but rather because he was willing years before, to head out to the shop and make an hours progress on that day. It doesn’t matter who you are, the golden rule of success in homebuilding remains the same: Persistence Pays.

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2014 was a year of solid progress for us. We accomplished many things that laid a solid foundation for smooth, production in 2015.  First and foremost, the introduction of the new conversion manual. Brand New 250 page 2014 Manual- Done.  Although it took about 2,500 hours of writing and editing over 24 months to produce, it was well worth it because it makes building an engine far easier than the previous manual, and it effectively puts more working hours in every one of my weeks from now on, because it comprehensively answers most builders questions that they previously called about or wrote in with.

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The year also saw a lot of long term projects become fully tested and evolve to regular product status. 2400-L Starter, the 3,000 cc Corvair Engine Details, our new source for heads here in Jacksonville, and 1100-WW Camshaft Group along with details like All about Dipsticks, Part #2206 and Adjustable Oil Pressure Regulator, #2010A, and systems like the Bearhawk LSA Engine Mount, P/N #4201-E are a few that come to mind. It is a long list of R&D items that came to active duty. These were all time and resource consuming, but allow us to fill the existing orders for production engines with better cleaner, lighter designs. The reward is engines like this one: Night Engine Run, December 20, 2014, will be smoothly coming off the production line in our shop this year, and builders around the country will be building their own, just like them, in their shops, just like this:12 Cylinders / 6.0L of Corvair Power for JAG-2 run at CC#31 

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Along with the new manual and many new parts and systems, New EAA video on Corvair College#27, Barnwell 2013., the SPA/ Panther with it’s Corvair, Panther Prototype Engine 3,000 cc/120 hp to OSH (  https://flywithspa.com/  ) made it to the cover of a number of magazines including Kitplanes and The Experimenter, a very effective demonstration of the popularity and potential of the Corvair. ( see: 3,000 cc Panther flight videos) There were many other notable flights including Coast to Coast and back in Corvair powered KR-2S and 1,500 mile Corvair College flight in a 601XL. We had four Colleges that were attended by almost 300 builders, and a very productive week at Airventure; Pictures from Oshkosh 2014

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Looking at the above three paragraphs and their links, most people would conclude that Corvairs had a pretty good year in 2014.  Most does not mean all: I had an aviation salesman who doesn’t like me send an email saying that he knows Corvairs are fading out and we can’t be getting many new people involved. Evidently people are entitled to their own set of facts. People will believe what they need to, and you will always encounter such people. If the first two elements of decision making in aviation are being able to accurately observe events and then evaluate their meaning, you can question such a persons judgment. You will find one of these negative people in nearly every EAA chapter and on every discussion group, Even when presented with a full years worth of success and advancements, they will still insist that Corvairs don’t really work.

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I once thought that our continued success on a national stage would change this, but it never has. Most of the people who make these comments are driven by long held bias, based on little or no information and/or a personal dislike for things I have said or advocated. Either way, if someone allows such talk to sap their actions in experimental aviation, they are effectively ceding control of their personal destiny to a negative person they have never met.

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Above, myself, Grace and the legendary Chris Heintz, at Oshkosh 2014. In the pantheon of men who have championed affordable aircraft for working people, I consider this man on a plateau with Bernard Pietenpol and Steve Wittman. 25 years ago I was a student at Embry-Riddle, and Heintz’s published work on aircraft design and structures had a profound influence on my understanding.

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As a guest speaker at Zenith events in the last 10 years, I have always taken the opportunity to highlight this man’s work and direct service to homebuilders. In person, the man is relaxed and approachable, his insight available for the asking. Some of the best designers have been this way, For a look at what is available to anyone who simply decides that he will not sit on the sidelines of the Arena, read this: From The Past: With Steve Wittman 20 years ago today

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Over the last 15 years I have been outspoken on the topic of risk management. You can get an introduction to this here: Risk Management reference page. This will not change in 2015. One of the largest issues facing homebuilding is a 2011 federal report highlighting the elevated homebuilt accident rate. If you read the report, the source of trouble is no mystery: it is people willfully doing stupid things like being the second owner of a homebuilt and trying to fly it with no transition training. see: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #7, Nothing to Learn. Anyone who doubts this needs to know that it has been statistically proven that the first flight of an experimental’s second owner is actually more dangerous than the first flight the plane made. I find that astounding, but it is true.

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Although I have worked very hard to make the Corvair movement an oasis of good judgment and risk management, 2014 saw a large number of stupid accidents in Corvair powered planes, including one running out of gas and one crashing on the first flight with two people in the plane: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #6, 98% DNA not enough. These accidents are an unnecessary stain on the good work of everyone in the Corvair movement. It is an unfair fact that few, if any of the people hearing of these correctly understood that these events had nothing to do with the type of powerlant on the plane. These accidents do not happen by random chance, and all any new builder has to do to exempt himself is decide right now that he will read and understand directions, seek information and training only from qualified people, not cut corners, and stop what he is doing when I suggest he does. If you are new to homebuilding please read this for a fresh perspective on your control of your own path: Concerned about your potential?

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On her 51st birthday, my oldest friend in the world shared a lesson she would have liked to learn sooner: “One is not required to show up for every fight you are invited to.”  To people who lead their entire lives trying to avoid conflict at any cost, this is totally obvious. However to people like me it comes as something of a bit of late arriving wisdom.

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In keeping with this, here is something that will be different in 2015: After 10 years of being willing to publish experimental aviation’s’ dirty little secrets that the connected, powerful and those with a scam don’t want rank and file builders to know, I am dropping it. Writting these stories was important, but it has earned me a very long list of people who dislike me.  I have come to the conclusion it isn’t worth it because 90% of homebuilders don’t care, they are only focused typically on “what is in it for them.” They have no allegiance protecting our industry so it will be here for the builders who will follow after us. Writing stories like Communist Chinese government at Oshkosh should have sparked some outrage, but really the only effect was a number of connected people, like Richard Finch working very hard to get me black listed as a writer. If I had any significant evidence that the writing had an effect, I would still do it, but I will freely admit that most people who read it do not care.

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Here is excellent example; in the story: An opinion in search of a lawsuit I pointed out the case that an EAA employee was using the magazine to lay the ground work for making himself rich as an expert witness. Some people who read this openly debated if I was right. Here is the answer: after the story was published, the Man’s personal website was amended with a highlighted statement on the front page advertising that he is available as a paid expert witness. But, critically, I don’t feel that many people even care.

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We are now, generally speaking, a country of complacent cynics. As much as I hate to concede this, we are getting the level of honesty and aviation leadership that we deserve for this, which is pretty low. If a man doesn’t demand better, he will not have it; He does not have free speech if he is intimidated or too lazy to use it, and if he never once spoke up because he was always afraid for his job, then he was never a free man, the system simply owned him. I have had a 10 year run in the batters box, but have just come to the awareness that there is almost no one in the stadium and people long ago stopped caring what the score was.

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After a quarter of a century of working in experimental aviation every day, I will flatly state that the most interesting part of aviation to me remains what the setting reveals about the real character of humans. This is the same subject that Ernest Gann was always focused on. He didn’t write about planes, be wrote about people, and that is where my interest is.

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I have been fortunate to have met many real humans of character in the last 25 years; I have read the biographies of several hundred aviators, and to me, there is always some connection that even the novice homebuilder or student pilot will have with these people that outsiders, or people content to sit as spectators outside the arena, will not have. Character is not just in the famous nor the heroic; it is revealed in how anyone faces conflict. To understand my perspective on human character, read: The cost of being Charles Lindbergh.

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Aviators have some insight to human condition that few people take the time to develop. If one takes the time to consider what is real and what is important, you will then find meaning in many other lives, their lessons overlooked or forgotten by the majority of people who are simply taking another spin on the hamster wheel of day-to-day consumer life. You can find a very insightful story on a mans life and death at this link: Something worth an hour’s read

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I do not need, nor wish that characters be spotless heros or knights. Pappy Boyington was neither. He was a warrior and a deeply flawed human being. He was never in control of how the world wanted to see him. He was the recipient of the adoration many have for heros, but this is no substitute for the actual care and love of friends, which he was incapable of finding and keeping. That curse would be punishment enough for a man who flew for the Third Reich, but fate inflicted it on a man who was one of our own.

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The general public can debate the man’s life without connection. But an aviator with some sense of awareness can have a far greater insight. Any pilot who has written “1.0 hr.” in a log book when the flight was really 40 minutes, or ever said something after drinking that he never would have sober, has had a chance to look over the edge of a Grand Canyon sized abyss, a bottomless pit that Boyington fell into. The other side of this: if you are alone, aloft in a plane at the end of the day, and there is an inner, inexpressible sense of being in the right place, you are also connected to one of the very few elements of life that ever served Boyington a moments rest.

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I stand next to EAA and SAA founder Paul Poberezny at the 2003 SAA Fly In.  Read the story at: Speaking of Paul Poberezny He will always remain experimental aviation’s #1 character.

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What will your year in aviation hold for 2015? Only the things you are willing to work for, invest yourself in, and treat as an real endeavor. It is entirely up to you, you just have to show up for it like it was your own life. -ww.

 

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Consider reading: Thought for the Day: Time…..Your enemy.

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