State #50, North Dakota

Builders,

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Above, Rt. 12 headed in North Dakota. The landscape displaced all thoughts of life’s concerns elsewhere. In 125 miles of driving I saw only one other car, going the other way. Places like this never seem lonely to me, that is something I am much more likely to feel crowded places and cities.

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North Dakota was the only state I had never been to. Getting to every state had been a small goal of mine for a long time. I have actually driven to 49 of them, including riding to Alaska. It gives a a continuity to your appreciation for distance, climate and geography that arriving on a commercial flight doesn’t. 

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Likewise, I have been to almost all of these places either by motorcycle or old truck with the windows rolled down, methods of travel that put you “in” the setting. 

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I have stayed in people’s homes and  camped out far more than I have patronized corporate motels, eaten in dive diners more than restaurant chains,  had more beer in VFW halls than tourist spots. My grease monkey wardrobe is out of place among Oshkosh’s embroidered polo shirts, but out here in working rural America, it is a standard uniform were people’s actions matter more than their appearance of affluence.

I live in a State with a tourism economy, and it is very obvious that people who travel with the mindset and mannerisms of tourists never get much of the actual feel of my state, certainly no understanding of what makes it unique. I detest the way that Corporate consumer culture has homogenized much of our country,  but you can still find all the strong character that has resisted this as long as you are willing to slow down and listen, and trade the mannerisms and expectations of  a tourist for the eyes and empathy of  John Steinbeck or Robert Persig.

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East Bound in Montana 

Builders, 

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The airport in Livingston Montana is on a plateau several hundred feet above the town. Looking at any point on the compass provided a view of 10,000′ mountains. Above is the view to the south.  Yellowstone National Park lies on the same heading, 30 miles away.  Home in Florida is still 2,650 miles away.

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Above the Yellowstone river on an empty I-94.

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A tale of three Zenith builders.

Builders;

The last stop on the West Coast of our Corvair tour has been Portland Oregon, were I met three Zenith builders. We planned to rapidly finish the assembly on their engines on Saturday, and run them on Sunday at EAA chapter 105s facilities at the twin oaks airport. 

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Above, L to R, Vance Lucas, Alberta, 750 builder; Daryl Habit, Oregon, 601XL builder, Spencer Rice, Oregon, 601HD builder. Spencer just turned 18, but has been plans building for 3 years. He earned a private pilot license and flew to Oshkosh in 2015.

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Above, Vance and his 3,000 cc / 120 HP engine during the perfect break in run. His 750 is nearly done. Vance also attended the Corvair Colleges we held at the Zenith factory in Mexico MO.

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Above, Daryl stands with his 2,700 cc / 100 HP engine just after a great run. The only thing that eclipses this moment is the fist flight of your plane.
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Above, Spencer wrenching on his 2700 cc engine on Saturday. We did the assembly at Spencer’s home, and all enjoyed the hospitality of his family. All three builders now know their engines inside and out, they are the builders of these engines, not just the owners.

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Above,  Daryl at the last step, adjusting the valves. Corvair engines all have hydraulic lifters, and set once on assembly they run the full life of the engine without further adjustments.

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Above, Daryl strikes the traditional “Captian Morgan” pose we do for fun when your Corvair runs. He began the assembly last month at Corvair College #38 in Cloverdale CA, at Zenith’s west coast facilities

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Our excellent relations with the Zenith factory started 13 years ago when Grace and I bought, built and flew our 601xl, the first Corvair powered Zenith. Since then we have assisted more than 100 zenith builders to build the engine and take it flying. It isn’t for everyone, but for the people who choose to work with us, we offer excellent support, like driving across the continent to run your engine with you, which btw, we do for free. If you have ever wondered where my strong ‘fan club’ comes from, the answer is we built it one builder at a time, at events just like the one above.

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Water Bomber at twilight

Builders: 

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A Grumman, now retired from two careers , rests in the field next to the airport at Weed California. Last light of the day illuminates 14,000′  Mt. Shasta in the distance. Western tour rolls on. 

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Baffling on 3.3 Liter Corvair 

Builders:

Below is a look at Dan Weseman’s 3.3 liter Corvair being prepared for installation on the Panther prototype. This engine was dynamometer tested with impressive results.  The prototype ‘s  original 3.0 liter engine is migrating to Paul Salter’s new Panther, which is just coming back from the paint shop, and will be completed and at Oshkosh. Paul’s  airframe will be the 8th Panther to fly.

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Above, the Wesemans make perfect baffling kits for many different Corvair powered airframes. Their most popular sets are for zeniths, Panthers and Cleanexs , but they have also made them for planes like the Bearhawk LSA. Every part it perfectly shaped, formed and comes with all the holes drilled. They are matched hole tooled, and fit the nosebowls perfectly, no trimming required. The parts shown above can be put on the engine in 30 minutes, it takes about an hour to install the silicone rubber seal strips. The kit not only provides a clean quick installation. It has excellent cooling. 

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This type of cooling is on 95% of successful air cooled planes like RV’s and Cessna’s because it works. Look up the concept of a ‘plenum chamber’ and it says a large volume of pressurized air in a container designed to allow the air to slow down and have the pressure equalize. The system above does this task better than a set of ducts because it has much greater volume,  and that means the airflow will slow down and minimize currents and inertia that can cause the air to flow unequally through different parts of the cooling fins. Picture a white water river and a broad slow moving river that are flowing the same gallon per hour rate.  The fast moving white water will have eddies and currents and pockets behind obstructions vs the slow moving flow bathes each obstruction equally, flowing smoothly and completely around it. That is the very idea of a ‘plenum chamber’ and a low volume ‘plenum’ without the chamber doesn’t do the same job.

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This is a good angle to see that this system doesn’t have a ‘choke point’ above the front cylinders. It has a very large crossectional area there to slow the flow down and not form a restriction.

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Look at how easy getting at the spark plugs is, and nothing has to be removed to perform a compression test to inspect the top of the engine or head gasket area.

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Above, having the starter on the front allows the oil filter to ride back on the engine instead of remotely mounted on the firewall. 17 years ago I pioneered mounting the filter on the firewall and using rear starters, but was open minded enough to revert to improved front starter systems and gold oil filter housings because they work better for builders. More than 90% of Corvair powered planes are configured this way for a reason: it works.

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For the same reason a large volume plenum works for the engine , the oil cooler works vastly better directly fed by the air in the plenum addressing the whole face of the cooler rather than being fed a current down a hose. Pictured above is a 9 row cooler. This is the same size and installation I built for Andy Elliot’s zenith that flew more than 600 hours without issue in the Arizona desert. It works. Having the cooler on the engine keeps the hoses shorter and they move together with the engine and cooler as a unit, not flexing in operation.

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The rear view shows how high the rear baffle is on a panther. This is a good thing, it adds to the volume in the ‘plenum chamber’ of air above the motor. Some humans may like the look of ducts, but the air flowing through the motor doesn’t care that the inside of the cowling is forming the top of the ‘plenum chamber’ it is using.  Air doesn’t have an ego, and it isn’t attached to defending something it thought up nor does air have feelings that got hurt because someone was ‘rude’ to it. Air just works to cool things in proven systems. It’s just physics.

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Oshkosh 2016, booth and forum schedule

Builders,

We are now about a month away from Oshkosh. Our booth is #616 in the North aircraft display area, the same location it has been for six years, directly across from Zenith aircraft, right next to SPA/Panther. The show starts on the 25th, but commercial displays are assembled the day before. If time allows, we will be stopping at Brodhead WI for the Pietenpol gathering on the way to Oshkosh.

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I have been giving The Corvair forums at Oshkosh the last 18 years. This year I have the following  three scheduled:

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Tuesday, July 26 · 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM
Workshop Classroom B
Wednesday, July 27 · 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM
Forum Stage 2
Saturday, July 30 · 11:30 AM – 12:45 PM
Workshop Classroom C

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Oshkosh is a good time to see friends, get a look at parts in person, ask a lot of questions and make some good memories. While we are there I always catch the Zenith dinner, the Homebuilders dinner, and The Panther/Corvair BBQ. Many people close their booths right at 5pm, but ours is something of a social spot after hours. I hope to see as many of you as possible at Airventure. -ww.

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The EAA is an organization I believe in. I have been an EAA member since 1989, 1990 was my first trip to Oshkosh, I have been a Chapter president (288) and a Tech Councilor, worked for EAA publications for a number of years, Participated in the original Sport Pilot rule conferences, made display donations to the museum,  have been a guest speaker at dozens of chapters, given Airventure forums for almost 20 years, and been a commercial presenter at Oshkosh for more than a decade. This said, I have still gotten more back from the EAA and it’s membership than I have been able to put back.

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Below I would like to briefly mention three people who are long time EAA people who have worked on behalf of the interests of the membership for decades. They are some of the best people I have met in aviation. They all knew Paul Poberezny, ( Speaking of Paul Poberezny) and each of them bring their own version of his spirit to our organization.

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Above, The EAA’s Charlie Becker ( in blue) Grace and Joe Sarcione hanging out at our Oshkosh tent for the night airshow in 2015. Charlie is the EAA’s director of the homebuilding community. Charlie is an accomplished pilot and homebuilder, and supremely qualified for his mission. In a world of soft morals and tepid commitments, he is integrity defined.  While impressive in his craft, it is his actions away from flying that generate the great respect of all of Charlie’s friends.

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Above, EAA Editor Mary Jones with Chris Heintz.  I think that Mary is the most influential aviation journalist of our times because her work has always been about the story, just the opposite of many other writers. Countless times I have read a very good story, only noting at the last moment her name on the by line. This  is as it should be, her work always carrying the hall marks of quality and accuracy.  Everyone knows her as tough but fair, an excellent listener, an outstanding writer. Readers inherently understood that her coverage was accurate and reliable, the only yardsticks that matter. Her work to define and promote the Sport Pilot rule demonstrated her commitment to the lasting success of aviation in this country. As my mentor is publishing, she taught me why some stories are not main stream : Thought for the Day: “The only guy promoting alcohol, firearms and aviation” but she is also a lot of fun; when she visited Grace and I in Daytona Beach we spent a pleasant evening at “The Last Resort”, the bar made famous as the favorite place of serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

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Above, the EAA’s forums chief, Mark Forss.  Forums are a critical interface between members and the EAA when it comes to supporting the original mission of learn, build and fly. Articles in publications are very good at igniting dreams, but to make things happen, for dreamers to become builders, the best point of entry are the face to face exchanges of understanding provided by forums. Mark supports this mission year round with his involvement in the sport air workshops. He is a skilled builder and a pilot. Grace and I, and countless other people are very grateful for all of the work he as done for EAA members.

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“I sure hope his opinion is worth money to someone”

Builders,

John Tower was a four term US Senator from Texas.  Between his service in WWII and being a reservist, he wore the uniform of the US Navy for 46 years. He was on the Senate Armed Services Committee for 20 years; he was on the Joint Committee on Defense Production for 16 years; Although he was a Republican, he lead the ‘Tower Commission’, that investigated and condemned the Reagan administration role in the Iran Contra Affair. After leaving the Senate Tower was the Chief US negotiator of the Strategic Arms talks at a critical time in the Cold War.

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In 1989 President Bush nominated Tower to be US Secretary of Defense. Because he had never been a man of blind party loyalty, Tower was attacked on many fronts in one of the ugliest Senate confirmation hearings in history. At the height of the battle in the Senate, Towers enemies stated he was unqualified to be Secretary of Defense, because after serving in the Senate, Tower had worked for General Dynamics and was paid about $200,000/yr. One of Towers supporters went to the microphone and “We are speaking of making this man United States Secretary of Defense, on these issues,  I sure hope that his opinion is worth money to someone.” 

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With the goal of finding someone who had not been paid for their perspectives, Tower’s nomination was defeated by a coalition of his political rivals and enemies.  Another nominee was found, a relative unknown from a state where he had few detractors. He was easily confirmed, 92-0, and thus began the rise to power of a Wyoming Congressman named Dick Cheney.

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Your Aviation Connection: In budget experimental aviation, there is a small (10%) but internet vocal minority that will constantly spout the myth any person who runs a profitable or successful business will advocate products and procedures, motivated solely by quick profit. In this distorted view, anyone who is ‘successful’ can’t be trusted, and their track record should be ignored in favor of getting advice from people who’s opinions have never been valuable enough for builders to spend money on.

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This is a disease that doesn’t affect mid level builders like RV series builders. A part of the reason why their are 10,000 flying RV aircraft is the message Profitable=Evil doesn’t resonate with them. They want to build a proven aircraft, and they want to fly it. They are not interested in getting sidelined by conspiracy theories on success. To the contrary, the majority of RV builders selected Van’s Aircraft, specifically because it was successful and profitable. To sane people, this is taken as evidence of having a good and proven product.

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When people who are against trusting successful people need medical attention, do they look for people who didn’t make it through med school? Do they look upon every successful professional with suspicion? Do the automatically trust the opinion of every amateur or failure? Your guess is as good as mine, I am an aircraft mechanic, I have little understanding of that kind of psychology.

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On the internet last week, the claim was made I advocate pressure cowls because I make money selling baffle kits.  This is a joke, first because pressure cowls work, evidenced by 98% of RV aircraft and 100% of Cessna 172 and 150’s having them, second, we have more than a hundred of flying Corvair powered planes that use a pressure cowl, but lets not forget the point, I don’t even sell baffle kits. Even if I did, I am well known as a person who can’t be bought: Read this story: Expert Witnesses in civil Aviation trials. and know that I was offered $55,000 for 2 hours of testimony against Cessna, and I told their lawyers to “F–k Off. ”  In 2001, I had several attorneys promise me a million dollar settlement if I would sue the PIC in my accident. I told them to drop dead also.   So perhaps it seems unlikely that I would sell out for the ‘big money’ available from Corvair parts sales.

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The anti-success line sold on internet groups isn’t just aimed at Corvairs; I have seen it used against any VW company that lasted, about half of the aircraft plans sellers, and a great number of people who offered parts for plans built aircraft. The people who sell this idea claim to be defending traditional homebuilding, but what they are really doing making it unattractive for people to make products of basic planes, to take away the opportunity for some builders to choose for themselves products that best serve their individual time vs money equation.  If you are a grass roots homebuilder who wonders why there are “A wealth of products for the wealthy“, but far fewer choices for those on a budget, here is a big part of your answer.

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Here is irony: One of the things I do with the modest profits from our 27 year business is put them back into events that serve grass roots builders like our free Corvair Colleges: Corvair College History….in photos. and use the time to write about our R&D and testing projects: Testing and Data Collection reference page. Yet, a number of people who claim I am solely motivated by profit, have actually attended a Corvair College, and certainly almost all people who make the claim have learned something from my websites. These are the some of the people I was writing about in this story:The Hypocrisy of Homebuilders.

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Every builder will choose his own path. Some will follow the proven path because their goal is success, and they interpret success as the sign of good product or service. I am glad to assist these builders, no matter how big or small their budget is.  Others, will choose to condemn any successful company, for reasons that are important to them, but in doing so will greatly diminish their personal odds of building and flying a reliable plane, all as the years drift by and their time runs out. Pick your own personal path carefully, most people don’t get two chances at this.

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Above John Tower in the 1960’s. If you can see past the political necessity of his vote against the Civil rights act to gain office, the man had a long run where he put his loyalty with his conscience instead of either party. It wasn’t a long term strategy for gaining the favor or protection of his party. He was killed at age 65 in the crash of an Embraer twin turboprop, a scheduled airline flight. The accident was traced to the failure of a Hamilton Standard propeller. A later, nearly identical fatal accident caused a major safety probe that laid responsibility on Hamilton Standard’s overhaul practices.

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