Corvair College #33 Relocated To Grassroots Airport

Builders,

This is an important notice for Builders signed up for Corvair College #33, April 17-19. The event was planned for EAA 534 hangar at Leesburg airport, same location were CC#25 and CC#29 were held. With 19 days to go, the EAA chapter sent me an Email, backing out of the event. While this may sound like an issue, it isn’t because the ownership and management of Mid Florida Airport at Eustis, a privately owned, open to the public airport, immediately welcomed the opportunity to host CC#33. I have met them in person, toured the site in detail, and we have all the arrangements made for the college to move forward smoothly in a very supportive setting.

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Above, Grace’s Caddy sits at the main entrance to Mid Florida Airport at Eustis, Although this airport is just 14 miles from Leesburg, it is a world away in setting. Leesburg is county airport, and has all the excessive security layers, the chain link fence, swipe cards, barbed wire and automatic gates that are required at most airports run on Federal money. Additionally, Leesburg has a tower, and all the required radio protocol  I understand why some airports have to be that way, but for a College, and anything I do in aviation, I much prefer the traditional simple welcoming of a simple grass strip in a friendly setting. This is exactly what our new location, Mid Florida Airport at Eustis, is all about. This late change in location is turning out to be a blessing, where we have found the location and local hosts that best suit the mission of the college: Learning in a friendly comfortable setting.

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Above is a look down the runway at Mid Florida Airport at Eustis.  (For all our northern friends, that green stuff is called grass, and it happens spontaneously when something called sunshine strikes the earth at temperatures where H2O is no longer a solid.) Seriously, this place is a green paradise in comparison to almost any county airport. 18/36 is the turf runway, and it is in excellent condition. The owner and manager gave me a full tour of the airport, and pointed out several hangars we were welcome to use, their shady 6 acre green camping area complete with adjoining lake, and support items like a large dining tent, golf carts, and rest rooms.

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As much as I like the airport setting, the people there were the real attraction, even people just walking by stopped to say hello and introduce themselves. I ended up spending two hours with the airport manager Rex Wyatt, a real old school aviator. The airport owner shares Rex’s extensive background, but Rex is modest and down plays this. But in the course of conversation it is revealed he flew F-84F’s, Helicopters out of Pleiku, has done a lot of teaching, and is still an active corporate pilot of complex jets like Hawkers. He is also a grass roots guy with an extensive collection of US classic light planes, and he is a long time EAA member, flying to every Oshkosh between 1970-83. Rex proudly told me his grandchild was about to start at Embry-Riddle, another generation of aviators from his family.  While to seems that the sole requirement to be an airport manager at most municipal airports is having some sort of business degree and perhaps having flown on an airliner once,  Rex offers the polar opposite, the judgment and knowledge that comes with a lifetime of personal experience in the arena of aviation. CC#33 was the original topic, but I later realized that the whole afternoon was time very well spent. -ww.

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Please remember that Corvair College #33 is an Event that requires pre-registration. The event is planned in detail, and fully catered, and to attend, signing up is required. The link: Corvair College #33 sign up closes Sunday 3/29, 9pm EST.

The Airport ‘s identifier is X-55. It is located just off Route 44 in Eustis, FL 32736 It can be seen on Google maps at this link:

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https://www.google.com/maps/place/Mid+Florida+Air+Service+Airport/@28.844731,-81.6324075,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x88e7a3b74e67a3cb:0x211c8fc6d9e9df7f

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100 HP Corvair, Tim Hansen , Persistence Pays

Builders,

Ten years ago, at Corvair College #9, a young man showed up after a very long trip: He had taken a Greyhound bus from Ohio to Edgewater, Florida He was only able to stay at the College for 24 hours before he had to catch the return bus. He was a college student, he had done a lot of research, and he asked good questions. Serious builders were impressed with his attitude, and the commitment to have his seat at the table of experimental aviation.

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Tonight, nearly ten years later, despite all the obstacles that life can serve, Tim’s carefully built 100 HP Corvair, a product of his own hands and mind, fired up for a perfect test run. The running engine is destined for his homebuilt, but the achievement isn’t the powerplant.  It is in Tim’s attitude to really learn and understand engines, to build an excellent example, to be persistent when others are not. The reward is internal, it cannot be diminished, lost, spent nor taken away. He owns it, period.

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In most other aviation settings, people’s value is judged by the thickness of their wallet. That attitude is abhorrent to me. Conversely, in the Corvair movement, the value of an individual is judged solely on his personal commitment to the original EAA motto “Learn, Build and Fly.” In the pantheon of tradition builders whom I have met in two-and-a-half decades in experimental aviation, Tim Hansen holds a very special place, as he is the personification of my Golden Rule of homebuilding: Persistence Pays.

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Above, Tim’s engine on the run stand on the ramp in front of our hangar. After Corvair College #31, out of respect for his personal commitment, Grace extended a rare invitation to our home, to have Tim finish and test run his engine. The weekend was the only open date in Tim’s work schedule. He drove down from Ohio, worked for a day, and had it on the stand by 9 PM Saturday.

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Congratulations to Tim, just after it fired up. A memorable moment In The Arena. The engine is a 2,700 cc Corvair with a Weseman Gen II 5th bearing and all of our gold systems and parts. Tim was on a budget, but he long ago set his personal standard, that his own engine would be first class. He was focused on getting everything he could from the process, not doing it as cheaply as possible.

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Above Tim with his engine after the run. The sign he holds tell the story of a man who would not be dissuaded from his goal.

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Read closely: Tim traveled  8,787 miles, 1,821 of them by bus, to learn the skills, processes, techniques and understanding so that he may rightfully use the title “Motorhead.” In the decade since his first arrival at College #9, Tim also earned a private pilot rating and had built a substantial amount of hours becoming an Airman. The achievements were gained against life’s adversities: In the early years, a cycle accident put Tim in a wheelchair for six months and brought a mountain of uncovered medical expense. Most people would have seen these as acceptable reasons for walking away from the dream of flight, but Tim Hansen isn’t “most people” –  he has his own standards for himself.

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Tim’s engine puts down a night break in run in, outside the hangar in our front yard. Grace keeps the Christmas lights up 365 nights a year. By coincidence, on the left, well known 601XL/Corvair builder and Pilot Phil Maxson,  (Phil Maxson goes to 3,000 cc for his 601XL )  was in the area. He was on hand to welcome Tim into the ranks of successful Corvair builders.  Phil stayed to see the engine run, because he is a member of our community of builders, a group defined by their traditional take on “Learn, Build and Fly.”  Most experimental engines are simple consumer products with nothing to unite their owners except the amount of money they spent. For builders looking for more from their hours in aviation, we have a setting where craftsmanship, commitment and camaraderie all retain  their traditional value as the primary currency of aviators.

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Grace worked many years to become an aviator herself, and she has a special understanding for any individual who sets themselves to the task, keeps their standards high, and refuses to quit. Above, Grace shares Tim’s hour of victory.

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After a few photos, we threw some steaks on the grill, and had a late dinner, spending the time remembering events from the past decade, and speaking of good things to come. As I write this, it is now 3 am, and everyone has long gone to bed. The morning will bring a long drive back to Ohio for Tim, and a full day of College #33 prep for us. Yet I am kept awake by thoughts of having just been present at a major milestone in the path of another aviator. Next week, someone will ask what is the reward of our work with Corvairs, and I will simply refer them to this story.

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“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 who 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.”  -ww.