The Vindication of Persistence


November may be the best month in Florida. The leaves are still on the trees, the grass is green, and most days are spectacularly clear, while tee shirt weather stays for a few more weeks. These were the conditions present at our airport over the holiday weekend, and it was perfect weather for the test flights of the third SPA/Panther.


You can read the story at this link:

But I would like to share some of the unspoken larger picture brought in focus by this flight.  Understand that for every 100 new experimental designs announced, maybe 50 actually have a flying prototype built; of these 50, maybe 25 ever accumulate 100 hours;  of those 25, maybe 10 have a second one ever built, and of those 10, perhaps 2 designs ever see a third airframe built. It is from these two of a hundred come all the long lived homebuilt companies that provide proven opportunities  to homebuilders.


In the few short years of the Panther’s history, it has been met with near universal praise. They have sold, and delivered more than 50 kits, and have expanded to not only fill this demand, but also have kits ‘on the shelf.’ Most people focus on the design itself as the source of the success. I disagree; I believe that it is the people, not the plane. The right people will produce the right design. The wrong people, even if the stumble into a clever layout, will still not be successful in the long run.


To people who know Dan and Rachel Weseman, there was never any question they would succeed in the world of homebuilts, because people who know them understand they are the ‘right’ people. They have the characteristics of success, read this story for some insight: Panther Roll out.


I personally think that the #1 quality of success is persistence. At Oshkosh forums when people ask: ‘who is more likely to finish a homebuilt, a guy with cubic dollars but few skills, or a highly skilled guy with few funds?’ I always point out that smart money is on which ever of the two is persistent. (The concept is the root of this story: 100 HP Corvair, Tim Hansen , Persistence Pays.)


As 2015 is winding down, and you look for ways to improve your progress in 2016, I suggest focusing on developing persistence. The coming year will not likely have a greatly different disposable income, nor will it have more than 24 hours in a day. The one variable that you do control is how determined you are to make progress and achieve your goals. How consistently you can focus your resources, while remaining positive, is the measure of your persistence.  This will be the most important factor, and it is entirely up to you.




Above, A twelve year old photo of Dan Weseman, taken at Corvair College #8 at our old Edgewater hangar. There were 70 people at CC #8, but few are in the photo because it was well past midnight. The picture speaks volumes about persistence. Dan had a lot of fun as a builder at those early colleges, but he also stayed up very late and got everything out of the events, which was how he has always approached homebuilding. The following year he flew his Corvair powered Sonex back to Corvair College #9.


The fact he is an incredibly valuable industry asset, playing a positive role in countless homebuilders projects dozen years later comes as little surprise. He relentlessly applied himself to every opportunity to learn and expand his own personal skill set, and worked to share this with others. This is what you get when you distill the homebuilding experience to it most fundamental elements. It also happens to be a blueprint for any builders personal path to find the real rewards in building and mastering your own aircraft.




Dan never pays attention to trolls, but I am cursed with the memory of an elephant and a contempt for people who are compulsive critics, particularly critics without the courage to use their real names. When the Panther was the most talked about aircraft Oshkosh, one of the few negative people was a ‘personality’ on who is an expatriate living in China, who never met Dan, nor saw the plane, but felt it was his duty to condemn it from his safe anonymity in the land of Chairman Mao.  As the Panther success story has vindicated the program, the ‘personality’ has gone on to hundreds of other negative comments on other designs. I guess everyone works to create the reality they feel they deserve. For some people, this means creating a highly successful aircraft company, and for others it means being an anonymous person complaining on the net while kowtowing to police state masters.



2 Replies to “The Vindication of Persistence”

  1. I think there is more to the Corvair than just the engine. I believe it is the total experience of the “movement” as you call it. I am one of many who truly enjoy this experience. Without you, Grace, Dan, and Rachael non of this would be possible; at least not in the form as I have experienced since I first became interested. You guys are totally committed to and involved in your respective businesses which has directly resulted in the success of us builders and flyers.

    The way your two companies work together reminds me of Macy’s and Gimbal’s in the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th St.” “If we don’t have it send them to Gimbal’s. The main thing is the children get what they want”


  2. Early on, when I had a Sonex kit, I attended CC#5 because there was someone building a Sonex who was making all sorts of boasts about what his Sonex would do with the Corvair that he was installing, and I wanted to see what the truth was about the Corvair.

    The Corvair college was an education. I discovered that the Sonex builder was full of hot air. Once he completed the installation of the Corvair, he never published any performance figures or, according to a person who had a nearby hangar, ever gave any rides to anyone else. He claimed to follow William, but it became obvious he didn’t, when he took shortcuts.

    I also discovered William’s honesty and met Dan Weseman. Dan’s installation of the Corvair in the Sonex was done with a lot of forethought, and it went like stink. Dan went on to develop a lot of parts for a Corvair installation in Sonex, and he paved the way for others to follow.

    Dan didn’t make any claims about his Cleanex, (as he renamed his engine/airframe combination out of respect for the Monett designers of the airframe) until he demonstrated they worked on his plane. Dan doesn’t sell unicorns, he sells products that he’s demonstrated will work. The same is true of the Panther.

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