Corvair College #33, Mid Florida at Eustis Airport, April 17-19, 2015

Builders, here is a photo report on Corvair College #33:

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The major change in this year’s spring Florida College was the location: With just 19 days to go, we opted to change from the county airport we had planned on, to a privately owned, public use grass airport just 14 miles away. The shift turned out to be an excellent improvement, and made all the difference in the experience of Corvair College #33.

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Above, Bob Lester’s Pietenpol at CC #33, with the Ercoupe  and a Luscombe in the background. Bob gave an intro flight to almost all of the Pietenpol builders on hand. The airport is our new spring College location, Mid Florida at Eustis.

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Our new location’s full name Is “Mid Florida at Eustis.” It is a privately owned, public use, grass airport, with beautifully kept grounds. It is in the 12 o’clock position on the extreme northern perimeter of the greater Orlando area. Its identifier is X55. It is an airport completely focused on flying for pleasure and sport.

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Because of its private ownership, it is an integrated part of the neighborhood where it is located; entering the airport grounds is like finding a welcome park, in contrast to the fencing, gates and barbed wire that most county airports have adopted in the past decade. Our Colleges are educational, friendly and social events. They fit  in much better at a grass airport than one that could be mistaken for a maximum security prison.

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As nice as the location is, it is the ownership and management of Mid Florida at Eustis that sets the airport atmosphere, and makes it a standout. The field is owned by a gentleman universally known as “Rama.” In person he is very modest, but clearly of considerable personal success. He speaks of the airport, with its tree-lined green grounds, as an important peaceful refuge from a hectic world.  I had a single 20-minute meeting with him to explain what a Corvair College was, and he was captivated by the idea, and immediately made his facility and staff available to us. It struck me as the way of traditional aviation; a meeting of ideas, a handshake, and on to progress.

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Rex Wyatt, the airport manager, took every effort to support our College. In an era where many counties find their airport manager by calling HR and asking for any bureaucrat with an MBA, Rex is a reminder of the time when the title “Airport Manager” was reserved for the most experienced aviator on the field, a friendly but firm man of character. He is also quietly modest, but in conversation it is revealed that he flew F-84Fs, helicopters out of Pleiku, and continues to this day flying corporate jets. On the lighter side, he has an impressive GA background that includes being a longtime EAA member and having an enviable collection of classic American light aircraft. With some quiet pride, he shared that his grandson will shortly be attending Embry-Riddle. Having a manager with this depth of experience sets the tone for a friendly, but professional location.

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The airport provided spacious grassy camping areas shaded by live oak trees, next to a small lake. They set us up in a clean hangar, put up a large tent as a dining hall, and provided for every detail. The groundskeeper, Mr. Leroy, who lives adjacent to the airport, was available 24/7 throughout the event. He attended to the smallest point, such as finely mowing the camping area. When I tried to explain to him that Corvair builders were low key and didn’t require “the red carpet,” he smiled and simply said, “Rama said you were to be welcomed here,” and went back to his work. This welcome is part of Rama’s personal philosophy and has nothing to do with economics; the hangars are near full occupancy, they do not sell fuel, and there was little expectation that many of the College builders would be back before next year.  I spent some time thinking about how these men were solely motivated by a basic pride in their airport and its good reputation, the factor that makes all the difference.

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Above, first day of the College, builders gather around for a detailed inspection and discussion of rocker arms. Corvair Colleges are a mixture of small group discussions and individual progress.

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Some Colleges have many cores being taken down, others have lots of engine going to the test stand. #33 saw many of the former, a good indication that we always have many new people getting started in the Corvair movement. My sidekick, Vern Stevenson on the left, and 750 builder Lane Seidel on the right. Lane has been to a number of Colleges, and having worked in nuclear power operations for decades, he has a professional’s take on procedures and quality control that fits well with aviation.

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Above, a number of case assemblies were closed at the College, and I gave a demonstration on installing a Weseman 5th bearing on Saturday morning, which was replicated by a number of builders on their own engines. I keep a Weseman installation kit in my College tool box. It was supplied by Dan and Rachel to assist us in showing builders how to install their bearings at Colleges. Their builders who work at home can borrow an identical field kit from them. Even builders who just came to observe saw how simple the installation was.

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It was warm weather, and dining outside made more sense. Everyone who signed up was fed catered food all weekend and all they could drink, all out of our modest fee. 100% of the collected money goes right back into the event directly. Central Florida has many well known BBQ houses, and Grace selected Black Bear Smokehouse to provide us with vats of pulled pork and brisket, and plenty of side dishes.

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Hot weather isn’t really conducive to gorging one’s self, but builders at the College did a great job anyway, loading up on seconds. All the breakfasts were catered by the local Bob Evans, because eating BBQ three meals a day isn’t considered a balanced diet in today’s nutritional guidelines.

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The smaller nature of #33 led to a lot of close attention between myself and builders. Even at big Colleges like Barnwell, I meet with every builder personally, but #33 afforded more individual time. The spiffy new wash tank is part of my program of buying 4 of many of the pieces of College equipment and leaving them on site for the following year. Before the College, Vern, Lynn Dingfelder and myself made eight new 4’x8′ tables that can be disassembled and packed for any College where we need to assure space for more builders. They are sturdy enough to have 4 engines built on them at the same time.

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Pictured above are 12 cases, already chemically cleaned and machined to accept 3,000 cc cylinders. A number of builders sent their case in advance, and we processed it and they picked it up and started assembling it at the College. The price of this is included in the 3,000 cc kits we sell, but we are glad to break it out as a separate $300 charge, to allow builders to budget closing the case, and pay the balance of the piston, cylinder and rod kit later.

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Out of the blue, the early Corvair convertible above showed up 3 hangars down – the owner had no idea that there were 36 other Corvair engines 200 feet away.

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Above, on Saturday night after dinner, we had an “unplugged” gig from our friend Ron Thomas and his friend Ren. (The full band goes by the name “Afterburner.”)  They covered a number of tunes from the 1970s, including a powerful version of the song “Sandman” by the band America. Ron, who is singing above, is a native of New Orleans, and has made a living in music all his life.

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Ron has met a number of Corvair builders at our Oshkosh booth over the past two years. He is a pilot, an Ercoupe owner and fan, just getting to know experimentals. At Oshkosh 2013, he met Pat and Mary Hoyt when they flew in with their yellow and polished 601XL. At Oshkosh 2014, Ron got out of his truck after driving 1,300 miles solo, walked past a yellow and polished RV-12 being filmed, mistook it for Pat and Mary’s plane, and promptly said to the guy in front of the camera, “Dude, Pat and Mary, what great people! These Corvair/Zeniths rock!”  Ron said the guy being filmed had some kind of childish negative reaction. I later walked down to the Van’s aircraft booth with Ron, and when he pointed the guy out, I thought it was funny because it was Richard VanGrunsven.

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Above, Fisher celebrity builder Skip Beattie, Grace and myself in front of the hangar. Vern’s “Aerotrike” nose on the left in the picture.

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Above, late night Scoob E sits in his chair while the three rules sign is displayed.  Grace painted this several years ago, and it has been to all colleges since. The top is self explanatory: Politics is not an allowable topic of conversation. The second isn’t in the same context that John Lenon used it in the song Imagine, We use it in the sense that I consider faith a private matter, and the diversity of builders at the Colleges means that it is merely good manners to be quietly respectful of others. Anyone who has attended any of the 5 Colleges in Barnwell knows that P.F. Beck and crew start the dinner with a prayer to give thanks and a moment of silence to remember those past. The two words on the sign are to remind a small number of people the popular understanding of the term “Pious” implied a faith that was evident in deeds, and not spoken of. The third line is a reference to the notion that you can’t build a good American engine with torque wrenches made in a police state like the People’s Republic of China.

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Above, dinner time in the chow tent.  Vern Stevenson is standing in the red shirt, his Aerotrike, half Lancair 320 and half Geo Metro, is in the background. It has 18,000 miles on it now. Under Florida’s open minded Motor Vehicle code, it is considered a motorcycle. Behind it is its custom tiny 4×8′ 5th wheel trailer Vern built for it.

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Above, gratuitous dog photo. Scoob E was very happy to be at the College, but 7am on Sunday, he makes the “get started without me” face.

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The Last Man Standing Photo: From left above are Lane Seidel, Jack Reynolds, Grace and Scoob E, Richard Tomanio, Lynn Dingfelder, Bill Reynolds and Robert Audsley. Colleges have a tradition of a handful of builders staying late to get in the last wrenching and assist with the pack up. This crew was great assistance.

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If it looks like it was fun and productive, that is because it was. We are looking forward to another College in Eustis next year. Don’t miss it. -ww.

Piet / Vair internet builders group, started 4/24/15

Pietenpol builders,

Here is the genesis of a new on line discussion group for people working toward, building and flying Corvair powered Pietenpol aircraft. Getting started, this group is the work of Terry Hand (your host and moderator) and Phil Maxson (the IT expert). With each positive contribution, the group gradually belongs to the builders using it.

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 Please read and consider the goals carefully, and make your participation along the same lines. I did not come up with these goals in a vacuum, I have been around Pietenpols for more than 25 years, and in recent years I spent a lot of time listening to builders speak about what they felt was missing or could be improved upon in the experience of building and flying one.

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 I have tried in other formats, such as the newsletter or the matronics list, to make contributions to the larger Pietenpol building community with important information like the weight and balance project and notes on landing gear, cabanes and fuel lines. I put several hundred hours of work in those projects with the hopes of improving all Pietenpols, not just Corvair powered ones.

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While people read it, I would be hard pressed to say it was received without pushback, often from people who’s comments reflected how little they understood about BHP’s work and that the origins of most of the concepts were directly from BHP’s, writings and careful examination of his planes. A number of the most vocal adversaries of my contributions were motivated because I do not look/sound/act/think like they did. I have written extensively on how the subject of aircraft construction has consequences, and thus one must use all the good information available, even if they personally don’t like the source. Evidently they rejected that idea also

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Rather than debate with them, a different, private group, with better focus is in order. We will now have a place where successful builders can directly share factual data with new builders who understand that the likely hood of their own personal success goes up many fold when they read from a source which is made of proven techniques and data instead of old wives tales and rumor from people often using a fake name.

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The task at hand, building and 85 year old plans built design, actually requires the acquisition of far greater skills than building almost any kit plane. In this respect, calling the Pietenpol a ‘simple’ plane is misleading. No popular kit requires the builder to learn anything about welding today. Additionally, the nature of the plans, and the passage of time combine to require the builder to make decisions about many details on his own plane. Traditionally the new builder had to build up his skills and make these decisions while being the recipient of advice that ranged from spot on, to criminally wrong.

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Because he is a new builder, he is not in a good position to tell the difference between the two with 100% accuracy. This leads to giant wastes of time and materials, people quitting when the find our the have been on a goose chase, and worst, poor or unairworthy examples of the plane. To simplify this for the new Piet/Corvair builder, we are going to have a site where 100% of the information and advice is proven and valid. Builders will be able to read the insights from welding parts on several hundred flying planes without having to sort through the comments of people named “Flyboy26” and “Toolbuilder” who have never touched a welder.

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I contend that this will not only increase the completion percentage and the quality of the planes, but critically it will also shorten the build time. Not just because builders will avoid detours, but I know that builders work with much greater speed and confidence when they know the data they are working from is proven.

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The new group is not intended to replace any other group. The matronics group is for anybody who wants to talk about Pietenpols, and the two competing Face Book pages are largely social sites. What we are doing is different, it is a well focused builders site for those who have selected the specific Pietenpol/Corvair combination and have the goal of making serious progress toward it. It will be done in a civil and friendly way internally, but it will not be just another social chat site. Over time I would like it to generate a tight knit cadre of new and experienced builders. This will also tend to build new friendships, but the will come from working toward common goals, not pressing a ‘like’ key on a social media page. I don’t care how big the group is, I only care what people learn in it and what they build with this knowledge.

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The membership is not secret, nor is the content it will generate. However, I do regard it was private, and the archives of this group will not be available to the general public. If there is information that we develop that may benefit Pietenpol builders who selected engines other than the Corvair, either Terry or myself will share it with them in other forums, but I intend the membership of this site to be 100% Corvair builders, with very few exceptions.

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Who the group is for:

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1) Builders/flyers that have first hand flight experience with the Corvair/Pietenpol combination, either traditional BHP conversions or the methods I have taught people. We will share with new builders how to build replicas of engines and installations that are long proven to work.

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2) Builders who are currently working on the above combination. The minimum standard to join the group is owning one of my Corvair conversion manuals and a set of Pietenpol plans. I am OK with having the GN-1 builders aboard, but I want all the builders to be operating from current Corvair manuals. (Asking outdated questions because someone is trying to work with a 3rd hand 14 year old manual isn’t taking ones project nor this site seriously.)

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A very detailed visual, step by step sign up instructions can be found here:

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https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-sW1jQ2-f5_MWRacWdnWWhUSEU/view

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(They are nearly computer-idiot proof, I tested them on myself. )

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Above,Randy Bush of TN. at Brodhead with Miss Le’Bec (it is a combination of his girls’ names). His aircraft was seven years in the making. A consistent work of craftsmanship, the plane’s creation spanned both easy and hard years in Randy’s life. Many people new to homebuilding think that it is something you do if life is treating you great and you’re rolling in dough. Here is reality: The most successful builders I know understand that hours spent in your own shop, creating things with your own hands, is a vital part of a worthwhile life, and that this reality will be most evident at the hardest of times. Learning to make things is a crucial investment in your own sanity. Does it surprise anyone that really happy people always have a way of being creative? The plane has nearly 600 hours on it.

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New Pietenpol Family website

Builders,

We received a note from Andrew Pietenpol, Grandson of Bernard, that he has assembled a new official Pietenpol family website. I have spent a lot of time looking at it and it has a lot of information I had not seen before. Obviously, Andrew is the direct living legacy of his grandfather, and our best resource to learn more about the life, ideals and designs of ‘The patron saint of homebuilding”.

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Even if you are not a Pietenpol builder, an hour on the site will give you a much sharper understanding of the origins of homebuilding in the United States, which came at a time of extreme economic challenge. Of all the creative men involved, Bernard Pietenpol’s designs are the only ones still being built nearly 90 years later.

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 Pietenpol Aircraft Company – Official Air Camper site:

http://www.pietenpolaircraftcompany.com/

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Make sure you don’t miss the extensive photo gallery. It has many priceless Corvair-Pietenpol photos that I have never seen before:

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http://www.pietenpolaircraftcompany.com/historic-pietenpol-photo-gallery

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Andrew Pietenpol, aviator and Grandson of BHP, right, attends Corvair College #4 with Grace and Myself in 2003. Greatest complement anyone has ever said to me in 26 years in aviation: Andrew told me that day “My Grandfather would have adopted you.”

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For further reading on Pietenpols, click here:

http://flycorvair.net/2013/11/28/corvair-pietenpol-reference-page/

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Corvair College #34 sign up – Open now

Builders,

We have just opened the on line sign up for Corvair College #34, September 15-17, Mexico Missouri, at the Zenith factory. If you are new to the Colleges, just about every question you may have has an answer that can be found at this link: Corvair College reference page, please take the time to review it. There is a lot of information there, but it also give a detailed, accurate picture of a learning and building experience that is far from the typical technical seminar.

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Before going to the sign up page, several points to understand:

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All builders of our style of Corvair Conversions are welcome, not just Zenith builders. Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith, welcomes all homebuilders, not just his customers.

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Sign up is required to attend. I insist that we know who is coming to the events, and that they receive all the pre event communications. The fee for the college covers every thing builders eat drink, the workspace, tooling etc. In 33 previous colleges, we have had more than 1,000 people find this an excellent value. Success in homebuilding has many factors, but commitment to learn, following directions and spending some money are always going to be required parts. Someone who does not wish to pay their share, and just wants to look, can come to my Oshkosh display #616 in the north area, across from the Zenith display. But, attending Colleges is different, one must sign up.

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You do not need to have a motor to attend the College. Many people come to observe and learn, and they only get a motor after the College. We welcome anyone who is these to learn about how we build Corvair flight engines.

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The event is focused on teaching all aspects of building, operating and flying Corvair flight engines as I have taught people to build them since 1989. We welcome anyone who comes to learn in a friendly environment. The builders at the college will assemble engines to our design with parts from our specified suppliers such as SPA/Panther, Falcon machine, J.S Weseman, Roy’s Garage, Clark’s, and ourselves. However, we do not offer support or assistance to builders who are stuck with the products of now bankrupt LLC’s like Aeromax, Aerolite, Magnificent Machine, or anything that was/is sold from Valdosta GA. The small fraction of builders who made the decision to work with those short lived companies should have no expectation I will support them. They have to live their decision. This is called responsibility and consequences, Ideas that still matter in the America I choose to live in.

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Sign up Link:

https://corviarcollegeregistration.wufoo.com/forms/cc34-registration/

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Above, The builders who flew their Corvair powered planes to CC##30/The Zenith open House at Mexico MO; Shane and Phylis McDaniels (2,700/650B, MO), Lynn Dingfelder, (2,700/601XLB, PA), Dave Gardea (2,700/650B, IN) Ron Lendon (2,850 /601XLB, MI) and Pat and Mary Hoyt (2,700/601XLB with 650 canopy, MN). The picture above captures all 5 aircraft on the ramp in front of the Zenith Factory at The Mexico MO airport. The builders are standing between myself on one end and Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft on the other. This was one of the moments that make years of work in the hangar a very good investment.

Married 65 years today.

Friends,

On this day in 1950, my parents were married. Words can not say how blessed I feel that I was able to pick up the phone and speak with them tonight, Knowing that 69 years after they met, they remain the joy of each others lives.

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Lisa Craig Heuer's photo.

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Above, 4th and 5th from the left, My Father and Mother. I have long said that any qualities of character I may have are directly attributable to being their child. When I encounter anyone my age in a terrible position in life, my first thought has always been, and will always remain “Without the fortune of being born to my parents, that could be me.”

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To our friends who’s parents were also members of the “Greatest Generation”, I hope the photo brings back many good memories of your own parents.

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-ww.

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To read more about “The real William Wynne”: William Wynne Sr. Turns 89 today

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FlyCorvair.net tops 900,000 page reads.

Builders,  Last night, the counter on this site went over 900,000 page reads. We are a little less than 100 days from Oshkosh. At the current rate of readership, the site will reach a million page reads before we leave for Oshkosh.

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This sight has strong readership because it strikes the right combination of information and tone that appeals to traditional homebuilders. It isn’t really a giant amount of hits, but it is plenty to show that the engine is an ever more popular choice for homebuilts, and that we are the source for proven information on building and flying the engine.

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The Corvair isn’t for everyone, but if you are one of the homebuilders served by the engines strengths and advantages, we welcome you aboard. -ww.

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Blast from the past: Pictured above in the 2005 Zenith display at Oshkosh, our 601XL, N-1777W, the first Corvair powered Zenith.  We showed our planes in the Zenith display  for 5 years straight. L to R in the picture, Sebastien Heintz, me with short hair, and Gus Warren. Gus and I had just flown up from Florida.

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For the last six years we have had our own Booth at Oshkosh. This year it is in the same spot, #616,  directly across from Zenith’s boothWe have been around experimental aviation a long time. 10 years ago, when the picture above was taken, I had already been building Corvair flight engines for 16 years.  In an industry where here today, gone tomorrow companies are the rule, We have earned a place as one of the longest operating companies in our industry.

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Upcoming Events from FlyCorvair

Builders:

If you are new to Corvairs, I suggest this post 2015 Your year in aviation? is a very good starting point for planning what you will get out of this season in aviation. For people who are in the Arena, here are several here are several things coming up on the schedule:

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Corvair College #34, to be held at the Zenith Factory in Mexico Missouri Mid September, 15-17th the Tues.-Weds.- Thurs. before the Zenith Open House. Local Hosts Sebastien Heintz and crew at Zenith. Same location as CC#26 and #30. Sign up will go up here shortly.

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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 Zenith Factory  The engine installation on these planes are clones of the one we developed in our own 601XL 12 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 build our engines.   Read more here: Corvair College #30 Good Times and here: Corvair College #30 Running Engines

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New Pietenpol/Corvair discussion board being formed now: Patterned after our very successful Zenith/Corvair discussion board, ( ‘Zenvair’ Information board formed ) This will be a new group aimed at providing quality technical support from successful builders to those serious about making progress on their Pietenpol project.

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The project has been in the works for some time. Corvair/601XL builder Phil Maxson, who covers both the IT and the moderation on our Zenith Board, has agreed to cover the IT work on the Pietenpol board. I have enlisted Pietenpol builder Terry Hand to be the board’s moderator. I have spoken with a number of the well known builders of the combination, such as Kevin Purtee, ( Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee ) and they are in support of this project, and will be active contributors.

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There are already several other places on the net where people discuss Pietenpols. Several things set this group apart: Everyone will use their actual names, not made up ones, and we will have civility; The focus will be on the exchange of proven, tested, valid first hand data, and the development of skills required to build and operate a Pietenpol. This will be done in the same positive, supportive way that colleges are run. My goal is to have a location that will serve serious builders, and be free of the old wives tales which are constantly presented as data in other settings, which I hold to be a serious impediment to builder progress and risk management. If you will like to get advanced notice of the start of the group, send me a private Email ( WilliamTCA@aol.com ) with the words “New Pietenpol Group” in the subject line.

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Above, Terry Hand with his steel tube Pietenpol at CC#24 in Barnwell, SC.

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Corvair College #33 starts in 48 hours. We are in the final prep work stages. Grace, Vern and myself have been working at this, with a great deal of assistance from Corvair/601 builder/pilot Lynn Dingfelder. the College runs from the 17-19th, but we will have a day of rest and unpacking. The first full day back in the shop will be the 22nd.

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Above, Lynn Dingfelder awaits the launch signal at the Short take off competition. at the 2014 Zenith open house. He had the best combination score for low wing Zeniths. This photo gives a good look at how streamlined the 28″ wide Corvair is.

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Above, Kevin Purtee’s Pietenpol flying College #22 in Texas. He and Shelley Tumino have played many roles in supporting Corvair builders, including being the local hosts of 3 Colleges.

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Above, Kevin Purtee and Shelley Tumino receive The Cherry Grove Trophy at Corvair College #24.

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Thought for the day: Freedom, 150 years later.

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“I have always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others.”

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Abraham Lincoln spoke the words above in 1865. He lived just 30 more days. Although he only made it to 56 years old, he out lived the institution of slavery in the United States.

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An iconic black and white photograph of a bearded Abraham Lincoln showing his head and shoulders.

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In the photo above, Lincoln is 54 years old. Most Americans believe that he was much older, based on his appearance. Although conflict and stress aged him terribly, it could not break him. He had will power, and the ability to withstand hardship and hatred without altering his purpose nor deviating from his path.  He was the ultimate proof that qualities of character are more important than any other factor in determining the value of a human life, and what can be accomplished with it.

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150 years after the end of the civil war, with physical slavery vanquished, most Americans would proclaim they live in freedom. While they enjoy possibilities others can only dream of, a reasonable person can point out that more subtle, but pervasive systems of control, pacification and subjugation confront the individual today; a consumer driven society with an indifference to smothering personal debt; Celebrities and personalities used to expunge our memory and understanding of real heroes and champions; Declining educational standards combined with the end of journalism as our parents knew it, leaving most people unaware of issues, and hardly capable of expressing their objections.

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Yet, I remain optimistic because I have great faith in the individual, acting of his own will, in the interests of himself, his family, his neighbors and this country, can still accomplish many things of great importance, even in the face of powerful forces that wish otherwise. I have no grand plan nor path, only a simple, powerful observation: When an individual creates an aircraft from his own mind and hands, and flies it with skill and control to a destination of his choosing, he is expressing his ultimate belief in the dignity of the individual and his ability and right to determine his own value. -ww.

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Something to be grateful for

On this day, on the eve of the holiest day in the Christian year, perhaps it is a good occasion to pause and consider what is worth being thankful for. Aviation is the centerpiece of my life’s work, and it is easy to forget that the achievable dreams of aviators here, are not possible to the great majority of people on earth. By the absolute luck of our birth, something none of us ‘earned’, we live in a world that has freedom for individuals to strive for things that others will never be allowed to know.

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Think about this:

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In the one hundred and eleven years since the wright brothers flew, more than eight billion humans have been born on this planet. Out of this number, perhaps fewer than 450,000 have flown a privately owned plane, and maybe a tenth of that number has flown an aircraft that they built themselves. The overwhelming number of flights of aircraft that were personal creations of the pilot happened in America.

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I do not conjure this thought to congratulate my countrymen; quite the reverse. I mention it as a reminder of their indescribable good fortune of being born in our imperfect country, but the one that affords an incredible head start on an individual achieving flight on their own skills, a dream that predates modern recorded history and perhaps language itself. Consider your good fortune compared to vast majority of humans on this planet: I don’t think your fellow humans begrudge your fortune, but I believe that they would beseech you to do something with it.

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Picture a 15 year old young man in the slums of the Angolan city of Ondjiva. He is watching a Beech 1900 of Air Nambia that comes to his small city twice a week. He wanted to fly planes but he never will. He is missing both of his feet, as he stepped on a land mine when he was 12. It had been put in the ground 24 years before he was born. The helicopter flight that saved his life will be the only time in his life he is airborne, and he does not remember it. He consoles himself that there really was no chance he would have been allowed to fly anyway, as he is a member of one of Angola’s numerous ethnic minorities, he would have been excluded from doing anything meaningful with his life, yet he still looks at the planes.  Had he been born here, his story might have been very different. His handicap would not have stopped him from flying, even racing planes. Even as a minority, could have gone to college and earned a degree in aerospace engineering, serving for decades designing cutting edge aircraft. If he was born here, he could have been Neil Loving

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Imagine a 13 year old girl living in Conakry Guinea, west Africa. It is a city of two million people, and you have never heard of it. She is watching an airliner trace a line across the sky. She has done well in school, and hopes to escape the poverty of her world and her dream is to fly one of those planes. But her dream will never happen. Her culture is world epicenter of the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, and it is done to 96% of the women there. It is not done by the state, nor the faith, but it will be done to her by her family, who will believe they are making her a much better servant and wife, the only goal they can imagine for her. Had this girl been born here, and dreamed of flying to expand her world beyond being a mother and wife, she could have been Jerrie Mock.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerrie_Mock

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Perhaps there is a 20 year old man in Gansu province China. It is one of the poorest areas in the country, and the average wage is less that $2 a day. He has always liked machines, and harbors a private dream of being a pilot one day, but it will never happen. In a country that still has hundreds of millions of people living on less than $5 a day, there is no opportunity. He is bright, and worked hard in school, but he took a standardized test when he was 14 he didn’t do well. He knows this ended any chance of further schooling and effectively sentenced him to a life of subsistence toil. Still, when a plane flies overhead, he can not help himself, he looks up and follows it path in the sky and wonders what his life might have been. Had this man had the fortune of being born here, he would have found that our system places value on all kinds of thinking. He would be stunned to learn that one of the most influential aviators of all time had an IQ of 88. His name was John Boyd.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Boyd_(military_strategist)

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Think of a 19 year old woman living in Ahvaz, one of the eight cities in Iran with a population over one million. As a girl she listened to her fathers stories of working on F-14s in the Iranian Air force at Mehrabad. When she was too young to know better, she told he father she wanted to be a pilot. She did not understand the look on his face or why he stopped speaking of planes to her. That was many years ago, but she still thinks about her dream when she sees a plane. But this is not her real secret. What she can not share with anyone is far more dangerous, and carries a penalty in her country: She is attracted to other women. She is good at hiding this, but one day when she is older, in a moment of weakness she will confide in the wrong person, and this will end with her in prison for 20 years. It will be considered “merciful”, she could have been sentenced to death by stoning. If this woman had been born here, she could have done anything she wanted in aviation. Her attractions would not have been a crime, and the certainly would not have been the business of the state, or anyone else. Had she been born here, she could have been Sally Ride.

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Ride-s.jpg

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Ride

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 Think about it……….

Sherpas. Part #2

Builders:

Maybe you read yesterdays story on Sherpas and thought my central point, that no one should follow the advice of anyone who has never built a flying plane, was a little obvious, and that everyone knows that, it’s just a given.  If you are aware of that, you have probably been around planes for a while. On the other hand, a great number of new arrivals in homebuilding either don’t know this, or think I am overstating this. I am not.

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Above, the EFI 2,700cc Corvair in 2007, at power on my dyno. This was built as a joint project with Mark at Falcon. Conclusion: It offered little or no benefit while adopting a giant level of additional risk over a simple carb. Read more here: Testing and Data Collection reference page If you want to understand what successful people are doing, read this: Carburetor Reference page

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Case in point: A potential builder contacted today expresses an interest in EFI, specifically one promoted by a guy named Robert Haynes. New guy undoubtably read Haynes’s website, which clearly states that Haynes has been working on this project for 11 years, and it has never satisfactory run, far less flown. That  is the definition of a guy standing in the village for more than a decade telling people that he is going to climb the mountain real soon, just as soon as he gets his electronic climbing gadget to work. The new arrival is yet to understand why people who want to climb the mountain work with Sherpas.

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Haynes is at least direct and honest, if misguided. He says he doesn’t believe in 5th bearings, and he is so cheap that he assembled his engine with an old worn stock cam and gear. He changed the rod bolts and goes through an elaborate balancing routine, completely missing that resizing the rods is the critical element of rebuilding them, the one step he didn’t do. His basic engine is flawed, and represents an obsession with rationalizing not doing any of the advancements we have made in Corvair in the last 15 years. He then uses this as the basis of a decade long search for a way to make a cheap homebuilt EFI system. If you are thinking I am kidding about this, the site is: http://www.hainesengineering.com/rhaines/aircraft/corvair.htm. If you think I am judging harshly, read the part where he took apart a very filthy, internally rusty core, and he is actually going to use the same lifters again, because spending $3.60 each for new ones is a waste of money in his book.

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Now think that our new arrival looked at Haynes’s website, including his wooden motor mount and plywood disc in place of a test prop, the engine roughly running for 20 seconds in a video clip without a cooling shroud, nor even a rudimentary exhaust system, read descriptions of going through a series of batteries trying to make it run, even looked at Haynes welding skills like the photo below, and believes that this guy is on to something that negates my observations on EFI : Fuel Injection – Corvair flight engines reference page

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thatcher cx4

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Above, a photo of the motor mount weld Hanes did for his VW powered Thacher CX4 project. If this was good enough to photograph and use, I contend that Mr. Haynes doesn’t know how much he doesn’t know about aircraft construction. If you are not familiar with the definition of the word “Hubris”, take a moment to look it up, it will enrich your understanding of a mindset that does not match well with building planes.

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Haynes might be a very nice family man, clever with computers, but his value system and workmanship has not generated anything one would include in their Corvair with the expectation of trouble free reliable performance, but evidently the new arrival to village saw this and still thought that some of these ideas were better than what the Sherpas of the flying Corvair world are doing. In 25 years of homebuiling, I have met countless people who held the same perspective, yet I can’t think of any who built a reliable plane.

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There is a mindset that wants to believe that there are countless ‘un discovered’ improvements to any system developed over 25 years that can be revealed by an amateur who looks at it for a week, particularly if that amateur is going to apply high tech in the form of electronics. The root interest is almost always the promise of saving money, or not having to put in some type of work.  It doesn’t matter that they have thought this most of their life but can’t cite 2 example cases of it being true.  If any new arrival thinks that a guy with rusty old lifters in an engine he thinks he will fly with his kids, has discovered something about Corvair powered flight that I don’t know, he is working with a mindset that is common to many people who have not, and will likely never build and fly a plane. People can send me hate mail over that, but they can’t send evidence refuting it.

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It is important to me that Homebuilding find better ways of binging new people in, not just as a spectator/ EAA member but as real, active builders with an effective plan for success, which I define as finishing a good, reliable plane and really learning skills, traditions and ethics of aviation. That is transformative in a persons life, most other aviation experiences pale in comparison.

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So, How do we get more people into a position where they have a fair chance at success in homebuilding? First, you have to be honest with them. You have to tell then that the odds are against them going in, so before they look at anything else about it, they should me most interested in one single thing: Understanding the different approaches between the 20% who make it and the 80% who don’t. If they are focused on anything else, but have not even considered this, they are almost certainly in the 80%.

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In reality the new builders don’t divide into neat groups of reasonable and unreasonable. This division and the percentages actually exist inside each new builder, and I believe that you can appeal to the reasonable side of each builder by articulately explaining why he might want to invest the real effort in transforming is abilities and knowledge, and how merely finding a short cut to a finished plane is not synonymous with this. You will not reach all people, and some will take time, but after decades of hands on teach in writing, I still think it is worth the effort. -ww.