House Call Bearhawk LSA; range: 6,250 miles.

Update: Sept.9, 2016

Craig’s plane has been flying since the week after Oshkosh. It has about 20 hours on it. It has required a few detail airframe adjustments, a normal expectation on a plans built plane built by a first time builder. When I inspected the plane on my trip, I made a number of small suggestions that the FAA had missed on their ‘airworthiness inspection’  (they are just looking at paperwork ) I also took a great number of digital pictures that I shared with the Designer Bob Barrows at Oshkosh. Bob, took the time to further suggest refinements to Craig. To his credit, Craig didn’t get a defensive attitude, he took the advice, and this is a significant factor in his test program advancing smoothly.-ww.



Continuing East, I stopped in central Iowa for a six hour house call / inspection on Craig Owen’s 2,850cc Bearhawk LSA. It received it’s airworthiness inspection directly from the FAA the day before. It is the first Corvair/Bearhawk. There are several others under construction.



Above, Craig Owen’s Corvair Bearhawk LSA. It was built from plans, it took 39 months, and was Craig’s first plane. He is determined,  and  looks upon learning new skills as a challenge, not an obstacle. He is currently finishing his flight training in an Interstate Cadet, a good  trainer for the Bearhawk  in an excellent example of good decision making, he has an experienced pilot  to fly the test time. Although the FAA lost its mind and made it legal to bring owners as non essential passengers on test flights, no  sane person does this.


First take away: The FAA inspection inspects the paperwork, and has absolutely  no assurance of airworthiness.  the people they send and many DARs  have missed things that killed people on first flights. A plane having an Airworthiness  certificate still needs experienced builders to look at it and an owner willing to accept suggestions of improvement.


Second take away: on the net this week, there will be  some personality trying to sell the idea that I am just motivated by profit, and I don’t care about builders, and I am an opinionated jackass.  When reading that, ask how making free* house calls on a 7,500 mile tour ( Craig’s is mile 6,250 ) of free Corvair Colleges is evidence of being a person driven by profit who doesn’t care about builders?


Full disclosure: the house call wasn’t really free, Craig paid for my hamburger and fries at his local diner….and I do plead guilty to being an opinionated jackass, but it happens that my 27 years of working on Corvair engines makes my opinions on them valid, even if I made fun of someone’s favorite celebrity or politicians, didn’t respond to their FB friend request, or publicly corrected them when they were saying it was Egypt that attacked the USS Liberty. I do those things just to keep my Christmas card list short.




9 Replies to “House Call Bearhawk LSA; range: 6,250 miles.”

  1. William, Two quotes I like. I’m sorry my common sense has offended you (not really) and SCIENCE does’nt care what you believe in. Press on!

  2. This is exactly the project that I would like to do. Hopefully, we will get some flight reports from Craig. I need to work on my welding skills first.

  3. Damn William I wanted to be the first to fly a corvair/bearhawk LSA. Oh well I guess you just cant have everything. It is a beautiful airplane. I hope I can do as well.

  4. Hey, only the people who like you, whether we’ve ever met or not, care, so your apologies and worries about critics go over our heads…{;^) Man, those ‘hawks are sweet. I sure hope Craig will do a build blog. Happy 4th, blow up a few moccasins for me…

  5. Hi William,
    I regularly agree with a lot of what you say, however, you might re-read the FAA advisory circular AC 90-116 about additional pilots. Don’t feel that Mr. Owen’s Bearhawk(beautiful plane) won’t fit into the additional pilot program as it is plans-built. From the AC
    -Built Aircraft.
    Currently the FAA is limiting aircraft eligibility to th
    ose aircraft built
    from a kit. These aircraft have the highest population and consistency from aircraft
    -built aircraft will n
    ot be considered at this time. There is currently no intention to consider
    inal designs for this program. Eligible aircraft kits are those that have been evaluated and
    found eligible to meet the “major portion” requirement of part
    21, Certification Procedures for
    Products and Parts, specifically §
    , and are listed in the “
    Revised Listing
    -Built Aircraft Kits
    .” This list is periodically up
    dated and can be downloaded at:
    .The advisory circular is actually an interesting read. Just my $.02 and don’t intend to start a flame war.

    1. John, you are correct, my point wasn’t articulate, I wanted to point out the excellent choice to have a test pilot with higher skills, but I also wanted to mention to other people with kits that the good of making the same decision would be undone by opting to go a long as a passenger on a test flight. I am not alone in being a critic of the FAA allowing passengers, the late Jeremy Monnett was a vocal opponent of it. In industry groups, you would be stunned to know who lobbied for it behind closed doors, citing ‘logic’ like ” the owners pride being hurt” and saying that people do it anyway.

      1. Thank you for your reply William, I certainly agree with you if there is any doubt about your capability of performing the first test flights, getting a more experienced pilot is the only way to go. I did that for the first kit that I built, and was glad that I did it that way. I also want to say thank you for all that you do for the builders that actually do want to learn about their engines and that you are not content to “rest on your laurels” and are always looking for better ways to make a better engine.

  6. How does this compare weight wise and power wise to Bob’s high output Continentals in actual use?

    1. I have flown Bobs plane and it is impressive. I have a good number of hours flying very well tuned small continentals, and found Bobs engine to be a standout in 85-90-O200s. It likely has the same output as a 3.0l Corvair. The Corvair will be lighter by 5-10 pounds and smoother.

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