Outlook 2016 – Fall Corv-air-tour

Builders:

Here is a plan I have been working on for a long time. the “Corv-air tour.” In a nutshell, We are planning on gathering Corvair powered planes to make a 14 day, multi state tour of the US in 2016. I have spoken with a number of Corvair pilots, all of whom really liked the idea. I am sharing it here, well in advance, because we are now taking suggestions for destinations on the tour, and I invite builders to write in the comments section with ideas.

.

.

Here are the elements that we do have set;

The dates are the first two weeks of September 2016. I want to make the last stop on the tour in Mexico MO, at the Zenith open house, which will also be Zeniths 25th anniversary in Mexico.

.

The tour will form a loop, made up of 200-300 mile daily legs. It need not start exactly at Mexico, MO, but the idea is to lay it out so guys who can’t do the whole tour can intercept it for a few days of flying on the segment that passes by their area. I have five guys who have said they intend to fly the whole thing, but many times this have said the are going to catch 4 or 5 days of the tour.

.

The idea is to alternate nights between grass airstrip camping with the pilots on the tour enjoying the evening, and then on alternative nights, the tour stops at an EAA chapter, where area Corvair builders can drive in, see finished versions of the planes they have at home in the shop, maybe do some flying in them, and get to know other builders in person. We can have catered dinner brought to the airport and hang out late, and pilots on the tour can head to motels to take a night off from camping. This way the tour can serve both flyers and builders alike, and over the course of the tour, several hundred people can be a part of it. I would also like to get individuals to cover it with posts, videos, and notes, as it is happening.

.

If the course is set out in a pattern that looks like a star shape, it is easy to scrub a day’s flying for weather without having to double the next days distance. We can also have extended legs  where guys with faster planes can travel out further, expanding the envelope, so the range of the tour isn’t planned around a 75 mph Piet with a 12 gallon tank. While I assume that some types of planes will fly together for fun, the flying between points will be a loose affair, at the pilots discretion. A pilot with a 150 mph plane can sleep in and have a very leisurely morning compared with the Piet pilots. The idea is to have a fun tour, not to run an airline or plan a strike mission. I want it to be casual about everything but safety.

.

On general geographic limits, I was thinking about keeping it between Kansas and Kentucky, Wisconsin and Louisiana, but I am open to ideas. To builders outside this area, I will point out that I already have pilots from Florida, California and New England who are planning on flying the tour, and with some planning, their stops traveling to intercept the tour route can be made into ‘satellite’ tour stops and a chance for builders to meet in person.

.

A thought: I have been going to aviation gatherings for more than 25 years, and they are fun, but they are all focused on things being done on the ground. The Corv-air tour is an event that can rebalance this by bringing half the focus back to flying. Going to Oshkosh is great, but it doesn’t really have any of our flying at it, and a Corvair builder can’t even hear an engine run there. Conversely, the tour will be the perfect opportunity for a builder to see up close and personal, what he is working towards, to meet others and have a good time. It can be the perfect mesh of building and flying experiences, something completely focused on the purest elements of homebuilding, removed from all the consumer pollutants that fill up “airshows” and too many of our magazines. It can be anything we wish to make it, and I believe that this format will prove to be a great return to pure homebuilding.

.

I look forward to reading ideas in the comments section, or you can email them to me directly. -ww.

.

Would you allow a combat Veteran to be called a “Whack job”?

Americans:

Today, on national TV, the chief strategist of one of the political parties, a person who has spent his entire working life as a lobbyist in DC, specifically named the veteran in the picture below, and dismissively called him a “Whack Job”.

.

The journalists present received this as a perfectly acceptable way to speak about a distinguished veteran. There is a disturbing trend for people in politics and media, who have often gone to great lengths to avoid personal service, to not be held accountable for making repugnant comments about the service of our Veterans. Our nation has spent the last 15 years generating an entirely new generation of combat Veterans. Out of gratitude for their service, and concern for the potential human difficulties they may find , we cannot allow it to be socially acceptable to demean or disrespect these men and women.

.

Jim Webb in Vietnam. (Photo: Webb2016.com)

.

The man pictured above was awarded the nations second highest award for Valor, the Navy Cross in Vietnam. He was also awarded the Silver Star, two bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. He went on to work with both Republican and Democratic administrations. His father flew both B-17s and B-29s in WWII.  Members of his family have been in every American conflict back through the Civil War. His son served as an infantryman in Iraq. Before dismissing him as a militarist, understand that he wrote the following in a Washington Post editorial, seven months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003:

.

“Those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade. The Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam. … In Japan, American occupation forces quickly became 50,000 friends. In Iraq, they would quickly become 50,000 terrorist targets.”

.

I do not have to agree with the things this man thinks, writes or stands for. My respect for his experiences is not conditional on his perspectives. I do not have to agree with people to recognize that the should be accorded being respectfully addressed. I do not have to agree with this man’s views to have a thousand times more respect for him than the scum political lobbyist who intentionally called him a “Whack -job” or the media personality posing as a journalist who allowed him to say it.

.

—————————————————————–

.

Corvair College #9 was held in our Edgewater Florida hangar on November 11th 2005, which was Veterans Day. Present was Sam Sayer, a B-17 co-pilot who was shot down on his first mission by an 88mm flack shell that past vertically through the throttle quadrant without detonating. After 61 years you could still see all the scars on the left side of his face and arms.

.

He shared the story with others at the table, making sure that all understood that he saw himself as very fortunate.  Afterwards, a particularly insensitive idiot gave a dissertation on why he drove German cars and how ‘superior’ German mechanical products have always been, specifically their weapons in WWII.  I took the guy outside and told him he had 60 seconds to develop and deliver a genuine apology for his insensitivity. Instead he said he had the ‘right’ to say what he wanted. I simply said, yes, but not in my hangar and not on Veterans day, and I told him to pack up and get out.  In 34 Colleges, with hundreds of builders, I have only thrown 3 people out. This was the first one. I wasn’t going to allow an 82 year old combat veteran, a guest in my hangar, to be verbally set upon in my presence.

.

This isn’t a statement about politics, conflict, nor military service. Those don’t even come into play here. Our country has an alarmingly high suicide rate among veterans, and you don’t have to be a social scientist to understand that when journalists and political lobbyists can speak disrespectfully of Veterans without anyone speaking up or objecting, recent veterans working through a difficult transition come to the conclusion that most of their fellow citizens simply do not care about their experiences. As a Nation of good people, we can not allow this.

.

Our popular ‘culture’ is obsessed with celebrities and material wealth, and consumerism tells you to worship them as gods. I didn’t point out which party’s operative made the remark, because I think either of them would do it. I didn’t point out the veteran’s name, because the story isn’t about him, it is about you, and asking yourself what is acceptable to you, what kind of country you wish to live in.

.

-ww.

.

2,775 cc Pistons are here.

Builders.

Two very large corrugated shipping crates showed up from California today, inside are the first round of our new 2,775 cc piston kits. You can read more of the story here at this link: 2,775 cc Piston and Cylinder kits

.

These are the slightly smaller brother to our 2,850 cc kits. I specifically developed these to use standard +.060″ Hastings chrome Corvair rings (2,850 and 3,000 cc Corvairs use metric rings because their bore sizes are actually 90 and 92 mm respectively) and to be set up for floating wrist pins, unlike stock Corvair wrist pins which are non-floating. Of course they are forged and made in America.

.

The slight dish in the piston tops is designed to allow these pistons to be used with fuel as low as 87 octane when combined with 95 series heads. They are designed for 90-92 fuel with 110 series heads.  These engines will also run fine on 100LL fuel, but it will not be required.

.

The cylinders for these engines will be re-bored stock GM cylinders. I have long proven motors in this bore size to be completely reliable on stock cylinders. A side benefit is that these motors will be several pounds lighter than 2,850 engines which use the proprietary Clark’s Corvair full fin, thick wall replacement cylinders.

.

As per the linked story above, I don’t yet have the final pricing on these kits, nor do I have them on the products page. I will take care of this in the next week, as we asked before, if you are interested, just send me an email with “2,775” in the subject line, we will directly send the information on connecting rod options and pricing shortly.

.

-ww.

.

.

Above, a 2005 shot of our personal Zenith 601XL in flight on it’s way home from Oshkosh. During the years we owned and flew the aircraft, it used two different engines. The latter was a high compression 3100 cc engine with 140 series heads, but it did it’s first two flying seasons and dozens of demo flights on it’s original 2,775 cc engine. While many new builders would guess that there would be a tremendous performance difference, there was a fair difference in climb rate, but the 2,775 cc motor was a solid performer that we tested to prove that it still had a positive climb rate at 1,500 pound gross on a hot day, On five cylinders. In cruise flight, if both engines were set to five gallons per hour, they delivered the exact same airspeed. In the same airframe, any airspeed will have a certain pounds of drag to go a set airspeed. To make that many pounds of thrust requires burning a certain amount of air/fuel. The only thing that is different is the percent of available power being used. Larger engines will have more power in reserve for climb, but Zeniths and other typical Corvair powered planes have good rates of climb on 2,700 or 2,775 cc Corvairs. I do not promote any combination which will not have a positive rate of climb on a 100F day at gross weight on five cylinders. All the combinations we sell parts for will meet this criterion.

.

.

Above, a 2,850 piston made in the USA, specifically designed for flight engines. The  “2,775 cc”  looks identical, but is .045″ less in diameter and has a different chamber volume.  I wrote a story about having these on the back burner of development 24 months ago, but the project will be done shortly, and they will be an option for builders. read more: Getting Started in 2013, Part #15, 2,775cc.

Back in Florida – 10 / 5 / 2015

Builders,

I woke up this morning, and for 5 seconds I was unsure of where I was. This was odd, because it turned out I was home in Florida after 23 days on the road, 3,400 miles spent in 16 states.

.

The last two days spent on the road were in South Carolina. The long stay started at I-95 mile marker 122 where the road washed away 20 minutes before I got there, and before we were directed to retreat, it also began to washout at 125, blocking the ability to back track. The SC troopers allowed 4wd trucks to run through 300′ of 12″ deep water rushing across the road, and I was one of the last people off the closed section of road.

.

I know South Carolina roads and geography pretty well, and figured out a 325 mile detour to get around the 40 closed miles of I-95. It was this long because all the common north-south roads like 17, 1, 301, 378, and 601 all had sections that were closed from flooding or missing bridges. It took all day to drive the route, and literally, there was savage flood damage to be seen on every single mile.  The route took me right past the neighborhood on Gill creek in Columbia, where my sister lived for a number of years. The creek was right in her back yard, knee-deep brook 20′ wide. During the storm it rose thirty feet and destroyed the homes in the area.

.

If you have never spent a day in South Carolina, and would like to know something about the character of it’s people beyond the BS conclusions TV news commentators make after looking at election polls, let me offer this: In the middle of this natural disaster, every single person from the state was incredibly kind and helpful. This includes their law enforcement, every person asked directions, and a family in the little 600 person town of Turbeville that insisted I stay in their house rather than camp in the truck.

.

These people have a neighborly decency which is woven into their lives.  When our national news media leaves one of it’s urban bases in search of a ‘story’, they invariably understand nothing of the values of people they meet, and this is never more apparent than when they are reporting from the Palmetto state. Contrary to what they would have you believe, I saw people of all hues helping each other, and I didn’t see a single southern battle flag. Study the news conferences with your own eyes, and see that the law enforcement and first responders are a cross section of the population, the mayor of the capitol isn’t a ‘good old boy’, and the governor is the daughter of immigrants. It is a very different place than most people have been ‘told’ about.

.

With he help of Dan Weseman and Paul Salter, the truck and trailer were unpacked today, but it will take a few days to come back up to speed on normal operations. We have 5 weeks until Corvair College #35, and my main focus beyond normal parts and communications will be building 3 engines going to builders. I will document these in stories in the coming weeks, as each of them would serve as a good pattern for builders assembling an engine of the same displacement.

.

If I missed an email or a call from you please send an email, and include your phone number with it. I will cover these over the next few days. Grace is still at her parents house, so answers on billing and small parts shipments may take an extra day to get back to you on.

.

-ww.

.

IMG_0663

Home, sweet home.  Grace’s 1946 Taylorcraft in the yard in front of the hangar at night. Christmas light stay up all year long.

CC#34 and the Zenith Open house -2015 -quick notes

Builders,

I have not had a chance to upload most of the photos and notes from these two events, but I just wanted to share some quick notes.

.

'The Corvair College

The Corvair College “classroom”. This year we rented a very large professional tent, and put it on the concrete apron right next to the Zenith building. The proximity was great for air, electric and tools like drill presses. It turned out to be much cooler than working in a hangar, and surprisingly, the white inside of the tent offered much brighter reflection of halogen lights for work that went on late into the nights. Although it was tight for 60 builders, everyone kept a positive attitude and a lot of new friends were made.

.

Corvair College #34 was the third consecutive College we have held at The Zenith Factory. (The others were #26 and #30) Like the others, this one was a strong success, with 60 builders in attendance. Although we were a little tight on space, a lot of high quality work was done and a number of engines went all the way through a test run on the stand.

.

We had a great crew of early birds who came and unpacked the trailer and set up all the work benches, tooling, run stand, lighting and wash tank. We were actually ready to go a day early, and a dozen of us headed out to the 54 diner to kick back. By noon the following day, we had a full house, and the building was in high blower.

.

Special assistance came ‘Air-Male’ from Florida, When Dan Weseman flew up from Florida to offer technical support for the full college. To give you a good idea of the progress, Dan said he supervised the installation of eleven of his 5th bearings on site. Think that over, that is 20% of the builders on hand closing their case and installing his bearing during the college. This is the progress possible with a cleverly designed, builder installable mass produced, affordable 5th bearing.

.

As always, the modest fee for the college was directly applied to the catering of all the meals by the Steinman’s catering. The weather was perfect, and we ate outdoors in the open air three meals a day. Rob Riggen of Flying High Coffee provided the Java, and we had large coolers with everything else for builders to drink. I have many good digital photos of this we will post at a later time.

.

One way you can always see that Colleges are successful is that builders rarely leave when the college ‘ends’. We always have many people right up to the end, and are never short of hands to break down the workbenches and pack the trailer and truck, even though builders drove in really long distances like Stu Snow and Larry Nelson who came from Arizona and Vance Lucas who drove in from Calgary…for the second year in a row.

.

'Zenith Aircraft Open Hangar Day 2015'

.

On the net several years ago, a person who disliked me called me a “Long haired, foul-mouthed, nationalistic, grease monkey from Florida.” My response was to write back and say, “Thanks, I accept the compliments, with a small correction, I was actually born in Pennsylvania.”  Just to show people that I am not a pure troglodyte, and I am capable of change, I present the above new photo of me at The Zenith open house, as a Short haired, foul-mouthed, nationalistic, grease monkey from Florida. The actual reason for the style change was my Mother asking me to do something nice for my Father to raise his spirits. It worked.

.

After the college, every year, we encourage builders to stay two more days for the Zenith open house. I have not missed one of these in many years, we have been there every year since 2009, get a look at this old zenith link: http://www.zenithair.com/news/oh2009.html.

.

.

Dr. Steve Minart, of Iowa, stands beside his 2700cc Corvair powered 601XL(B), He has flown in to four of the Zenith open houses. His home was one of the stops on our 2005 Midwest night school tour: A decade later: Midwest tour, winter 2005

.

The open house is a great event, if you are a homebuilder it offers a great chance to meet many industry suppliers in a setting far more relaxed than Oshkosh. Because Zenith is one of the biggest and oldest kit companies, they have the power to bring in all kinds of engine, avionics, and systems suppliers to their open house, in addition to running in depth tours of their operation and having Kitplanes sponsor their STOL competition. For a look at the event, check out this you tube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ocdQQW70G8

.

(You can get a very good look at the College tent in the aerial views. Note to Paul Salter who loaned me his truck for the trip, Don’t let Dan kid you, the truck still exists, it is parked next to the tent in the film.)

.

———————————————————————————

.

To get a better look at Zenith, check out this link:

http://www.zenithair.net/

.

For a look at College #30:

Corvair College #30 Good Times

and

Corvair College #30 Running Engines

.

For a look at our long standing relationship with Zenith aircraft and the Heintz family:

12 years of Zenith’s powered by FlyCorvair Conversions.

.

-ww.

Bob Lester’s 48 flight hour, 3400 mile Pietenpol adventure

Builders:

Here is a short set of notes from Pietenpol builder and flyer Bob Lester. It describes how after several years of not being able to coax his 65 hp Lycoming to carry his Piet from Florida to Brodhead, he was able to make the trip without issue after his Corvair Conversion. There were many Piets on hand at Brodhead this year, but Bob’s clearly flew the furthest, and his trip was made old school, without ground support. Bob has done many things with planes in the last 40 years, but he will tell anyone that flying his Piet around the country the last few years, barnstorming as if it was the 1930s, is the most fun he has had. He now has about 300 hours on the conversion.

.

IMG_2000.

Above, Bob Lester’s Pietenpol at CC #33.  Bob gave an intro flight to almost all of the Pietenpol builders on hand.

.

————————————————————–

.

What I did on my summer vacation, by Bob Lester

.

Every year since 2009 I have tried to make it up to the Brodhead Pietenpol fly in in Wisconsin, and every year I’ve failed.  Two years were scrubbed by problems with the Lycoming 0-145

 engine in my Piet at the time,  3 years due to weather, and 1 year due to family health issues.

.

Well this year was my year.  I had long since installed a 2700 Corvair in the Piet, and the weather was going to be with me ( more or less) for the trip.

.

I planned for ten days ( including a side trip to central Minnesota  to view the farms that my great grand and great great grand fathers  had lived on in the 1800’s ) with several overnight stops at the homes of old friends.

.

Day one took me from my home at Little River Airpark in McAlpin Fl to 49A  Gilmer Co in Ellijay Ga.  For a nice visit with friends from Jr High in 68.  A total of 7.0 hrs flying .

.

Day 2 took me east then north over the mountains ( following a hi way ) to KJVY  Clark Co in Jeffersonville In.  to visit a good old friend of mine from way back.  A total of 5.8 hrs.

.

Day 3 had me pinned down until noon waiting for the rain to pass over to the north.  So I headed west until night fall to land at  KBRL Southeast Iowa Regional at Burlington IA  to find a cheep cab ride to an expensive motel room.  A total of 7.6 hrs.

.

Day 4 had me heading North to Austin Min then West to KFRM Fairmont MN. A total of 6.0 hrs   Here I rented a car and drove out to view the farms that I had only been able to read about for the last 45 years.  Took pictures to show my brother.  Stayed an extra day.

.

Day 6  left a dawn to fly East to land at Cherry Grove ( birthplace of the Pietenpol ) only to find the runway grass was knee high.  So I pressed on to Brodhead WI .  A total of 7.1 hrs.

.

Days 7, 8, & 9 , were spent resting and enjoying Pietenpols flying, Pietenpols landing, or Pietenpols just sitting there.  What a great way to spend your vacation.  (No flying by me.  My butt needed a rest )

.

Day 10  was time to start heading home.  Flying South had me back in Southern Indiana at my friends house  outside of KJVY Clark Co Jeffersonville. A total of 6.1 hrs

.

Day 11  The next day being a Monday, .  He  told me the bad news that he would have to drop me off at the airport a 0530 so that he could make it to work on time  That was perfect for me.  It allowed me to take off at the crack of dawn.  Flying South all day passing on the    East side of the Atlanta mode C area and over the Smokie Mountians  ( really cold ) I made it home by 1830 hrs and 8.8 hrs of flying

.

This trip was a total bucket list thing that I’ve wanted to do for over 20 years.  It was great fun, and I may just do it again next year.

.

My plane and it’s Corvair engine made this trip possible with no mechanical issues worth noting

.

If you’ve always wanted to do something like this but haven’t yet j,  just do it .  You’ll feel a lot better about yourself.

.

There’s an old saying that goes  “Your going to be dead for a long time.  What are you waiting for ? “

.

 Happy trails

 Your friend    Bob Lester

.

————————————————-

.

More Bob Stories:

.

Power plant comparison:

Pietenpol Power: 100 hp Corvair vs 65 hp Lycoming

.

Landing gear change:

New die spring landing gear on a Pietenpol, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

.

Our Piet discussion group:

Piet Vair discussion group update, notes on joining

.

Bob’s Piet and others at Barnwell:

Pietenpol Builders and Pilots at Corvair College #31.

.

A look at a College where Bob gave a lot of rides:

Corvair College #33: Behind The Scenes

.

68209

Above my favorite Bob Lester photo, where he naturally strikes the “Intrepid Aviator” pose with his Pietenpol at CC#25.  He is good at this because he has seen every old aviation movie ever made. I have to coach other pilots on getting the pose right, but not Bob. He built his 2,700/Weseman bearing engine at CC #17,  Bob is now an active member of our ‘Pietvair’ group

.

-ww.

.

How many flying seasons? With whom will you spend them?

Builders:

A day ago I had some harsh words for a person who thought it was a good idea to call Jim Tomaszewski’s twin project a “Death Trap” in the comments section of this page, and to go on say “Shame on you for promoting this obvious misuse of Corvair technology.” Although Jim wrote him back nicely, the guy chose to double down on his negative comments twice more, basing his comments on a single class in aerodynamics as superior to my 5 years at Embry-Riddle.  His final comment to me was that he had ‘lost his respect’ for me, and I guess that makes us even, as I have never had any respect for people who need to voice a negative opinion about things they don’t even bother to read about.

.

About 10 pages of my new manual, (which that guy owned a copy) are devoted to me explaining that I don’t care what race, faith, color, persuasion any builder is. That is a private matter and no business of mine. A good look at my oldest friends reveals no pattern nor qualification, bar a single important issue: None of them are negative people. I have a whole page devoted to explaining that it was my Father who conditioned me to detest critics of other men’s works.

,

The photo above was taken by the U.S. Navy in early 1968. In my 5-year-old hand, I hold the Bronze Star awarded to my father during his 1967 tour in Vietnam.

.

My Father learned to fly in the 1940’s in N-3N’s at the Naval Academy. He was 38 when I was born in 1962. I took him on his last flight in a light plane in Florida about 5 years ago. He was about done driving then, and a number of years past flying a plane. All other things being equal, this suggests I have about 25 flying seasons left. I am not sure in which planes or locations I will spend them, but I have no intention of spending a single hour of those years in the presence of negative people nor critics.

.

Who will you spend your seasons with? What will be their values? What will you gain by the time in the company? Consumer society tells us that we are to admire men for monetary wealth. The American news this week was dominated by two polar opposite men, one who couldn’t stop telling us of his wealth, another who spoke of making his organization poor from devoting it to the betterment of others. Perhaps each of them has taken a vow of poverty, one of spirit, the other of material goods. Which would you choose to spend your hours with? Maybe most people never think about such things, but in the quiet hours, these are the questions that matter to me. My life has be enriched by the better choices in company I have made, when I was awake enough to ask myself  “what can I learn from a day in this persons company”?

.

 As an engine instructor, it would be pointless of me to try to teach anyone who refuses to read and consider what I write. Here is a 300 word story I wrote 9 months ago, about a man who’s life example I find critically important: Ernie Brace, American Aviator, dead at 83. It included this quote:

“In the years that you will work on your creation, you will have at least 200 people tell you that you are doing the wrong thing. you should quit. This will not just be in the form of a coworker or a brother in law calling your creation a ‘death trap’ repeatedly. It will also come in the form of other fliers who are EAA members, but would never even fly in a homebuilt, far less create one, telling you just to buy a plane, to give up on self reliant craftsmanship, just because  they did.”

.

Does it sound like my writing had any effect on yesterdays critic? Do you think the issue is that I didn’t cover the topic, or that it isn’t possible to reach some people? How many hours of my seasons should I spend trying to disprove the latter theory?

.

——————————————————-

.

I type this as it approaches midnight, sitting at the kitchen table of my parents home in New Jersey. The only sound is the ticking of the clock. I listen for any sound of my Father awakening in the night. If he can’t sleep and his thoughts are clear, I will sit beside him and ask him to share one more story from the past.

.

Invariably he will speak of events that required the best efforts of good people, and the fortune of being there, in the hour that mattered.  The body that ran a 4:35 mile at 17, loaded twenty two 5″ shells in one minute at 21, and carried both my sister and I in his arms on long walks at night at 40, now a faded shadow nearing 90, reminds us time is always running though our fingers. But the hours and years can not tarnish the values and beliefs, paramount among them, this: As a free American, you had the great fortune and duty to do something of value with your life, and if you did this, your place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

.

-W.E.W.jr

.