Sherpas. Part #2


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.


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


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.


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: 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.


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


thatcher cx4


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.


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.


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.




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.


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%.

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.

About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at and in more than 50 magazine articles.

2 Responses to Sherpas. Part #2

  1. Stan bohman says:

    William I just want to thank you for the incredibly honest articles yesterday and today on sherpas and everest. Your choice of words and examples. Have made it so clear to me that that if one doesn’t choose the Sherpa. That has made it to the top. Listen.prepare.and follow his example your going to die . Bad choices Always have a way of catching up to us sooner or later. These articles have helped me personally more than you can Imagine. Thanks again.

  2. Vern Lehman says:

    William.. Thank you for the efforts and expense with Falcon to finally refute the EFI pundits claims as pure “voodoo physics”. The fact that EFI can only claim an advantage as far as emissions control and cannot magically add “twice the horsepower” to an ICE already operating correctly on carburation, is in my mind proven conclusivly by your research. You and others here..including myself; have attended many fly-ins to see at vendors booths complex static display engines, none of which I remember touting the lower emissions aspect of what EFI can claim as the main benefit. Some of these displays have FWF more complex than an automotive installation, yet are somehow claimed to be “safer” in aviation use than the proven K.I.S.S.!! Thanks..but no thanks..I’ll stay with the well proven MA-3SPA induction system. I especially liked your info on the rusty lifters and worn automotive cam. I wouldn’t do that to my own 65 Corvair cars..let alone in an aircraft engine! Your analogy of climbing Everest is indeed appropriate, William. Even in the factory settings engineering and building a new aircraft design or even modifying an existing design is a monumental effort. We build from the experience of what was tested and discovered to have failed. When recognized as such, the failure then becomes a success. The cost of errors in judgement in aviation and also such a climb of the highest peak on Earth can easily be everything one has or ever will have in this lifetime. The perspective of what is the least risk in aviation rather than the lowest cost is paramount. You are a credit to the best aviation has to offer! Great work William! Have a blessed Easter season.

    Vern Lehman
    Carson, New Mexico

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