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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