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


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.


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.


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.


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





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


One Reply to “A positive path, well planned, Zenith 650 in the works”

  1. William,

    I am honored that you would deem my comments worthy of repeating. Thank you.
    As a side note, that happens to be me in the picture you post with this story of Andy Elliot giving rides in his 601.

    Earnie Fontenot

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