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.
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.”
To get the background of Gary’s building and flying, read this:
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.
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.
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.
This note came from Corvair college local co-host Shelley Tumino:
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!
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
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.
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.
How this relates to the homebuilt plane in your shop:
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.
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.”
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.
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:
“Ernest Brace -American Aviator”
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.“
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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. “
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.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
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.”
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’.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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. “
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.“
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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. “
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.”
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.”
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. “
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.“
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. “
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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
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: