First Flight Resources to review


I got a short note from a Pietenpol builder, saying he just got the FAA sign off, and will be taking his first flight after a few details are taken care of. It brings up a few things everyone should have in mind at that point. While a general review of this page is in order:  Engine Operations reference page, and everyone needs to have read the flight test plan in the ops manual: , I have listed several things below that builders need to have at the forefront of their actions.


The number one rule of first flights in anything, but particularly any alternative engine, is the “Two Minute Test.”

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #5, Two Minute Test


It should be an indication of how important setting the timing is by the number of stories I have written about it. 20% of the people doing a first flight have never set the timing on their engine. Do not be one of them, the results are not pretty.


When to check your timing, Lessons learned Pt#2

Ignition Timing on Corvairs

Ignition timing on Corvairs, Part 2





Above, a 2007 picture of the homebuilt of Ken Lien of WA state. The following year, he was killed on the very first flight. You can read the story I wrote a long time later here: Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place.  THIS ACCIDENT WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED IF HE RAN A TWO MINUTE TEST. This is not a one of a kind accident, we had two planes wrecked on their first flight in 2015 by pilots who didn’t bother to run a two minute test.


By an absolute coincidence, a life long best friend of Ken’s, named Denny Jackson became my neighbor at our airport in FL just after the accident. Denny was deeply hurt by his friend’s death, and finding out that I was the ‘Corvair guy’ lead to him angrily confronting me at our EAA chapter. He was 6’5″ and 325 pounds and not to be trifled with. Because I was part of the investigation, I already knew what Denny did not: It was caused by his friend putting his carb together incorrectly, it had nothing to do with Corvair engines, yet I could not say this to him, I could only ask that he withhold judgment. Months later, Denny understood the report, came and explained that he was just hurt at the loss of his friend. I told him I might have done the same thing.

Read more here: Comments on aircraft accidents.




Thought for the day: Choosing to be alive ““If the goal of the captain was to preserve the ship, he would never leave port. Most people never do. The goal of the captain is to seek adventure, to meet all the challenges and still achieve the goals, to be In The Arena, not rusting at the pier in the safe harbor.”-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.

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