Corvairs at the 25th Zenith open house.

Builders,

Below is a look at the four Corvair powered Zeniths which flew into the 25th open house in Mexico MO, last week. Let me say again, that I remain very thankful that we have builders who put out a great effort to return to events in their finished planes, and share their experience with fellow builders. Over the years we have had about 20 different builders fly their Zeniths back to the open house and to the Corvair Colleges we have held at the factory, and a number of these builders returned several times. This years collection has one plane making it’s debut, and three returning aircraft.  The high percentage of returning planes demonstrates that the events at the factory are excellent aviation events, not something builders do once so they can check off the “fly back to the factory” box.

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Above the Westedt’s, Craig and Val, stand in front of Val’s CH-650. Craig had hands on the motor, but the airframe is Val’s achievement.  This was the first year at the factory. They flew in from Oklahoma. This plane was awarded “Best low wing zenith” at the 25th Open House.

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Above, Dave Gardea’s  CH-650, which has been flying about 4 years. Dave has a 2,700cc engine and reports climb at 85 mph was 800-900 fpm. Level flight at 3500 ft full throttle yields 123 mph at 3050 rpm with the Warp drive prop at 9.5 degrees of pitch. He is from Indiana.

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Above the CH-601XL-B of Dr. Steve Mineart, from Iowa. The plane has been flying a little less than 10 years. Steve offered his home as one of our stops on the 2005 Midwest night school tour, and we have been friends ever since. The plane is flying on a 2700cc engine.

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Below, the Plans built 601XL-B of Ron Lendon, from Michigan. He now has 600 hours on the plane. It is powered with a 2850cc Corvair. Ron’s engine first ran at Corvair College #17.

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Above, a famous 2014 Zenith Open House photo of five Corvair Powered Zeniths. Note that Dave and Ron’s planes are in the picture, along with The McDaniel’s 650, the Hoyts 650, and Lynn Dingfelders 601XLB.

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Dave Bally, your fellow Corvair Builder, from an EAA family.

Builders;

Today in Homebuilding circles, there was a lot of excitement, because word came that one of the most anticipated Homebuilts in 20 years, Jack Bally’s 1/3 scale, scratch build B-17G is very nearly complete, and had all four engines running now.  One of the reasons I have followed the project closely is because Jack’s nephew, Dave Bally, is a fellow Corvair builder, and a great contributor to our efforts to support Corvair builders. I have not yet met Jack in person, but if he is anything like his nephew, it is easy to understand why the man has friends far and wide.

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Dave is the guy who is the first person to show up when we arrive at Oshkosh or Midwestern Corvair Colleges.  Just when you are exhausted from travel, he is full of energy to set up; When you discover the critical piece you left at home, Dave has already figured a way around needing it or fabricated a replacement; When you are tense, Dave is calm, and in no time at all he is setting the pace unloading, unpacking and applying his dry sense of humor to the moment, always making it much better. He always does this, he never lets you know he is coming, he is just there. He actually is the relentlessly positive person I pretend to be.  He is the embodiment of everything I like about EAA people.

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Above, Dave and Grace at Oshkosh 2016. The place looks bare because it is after the show. Not only did Dave help us set up, he also came by after it was over and ‘helped’ us take down the tent and pack everything in the trailer. I have ‘helped’ in quotes because he actually did the lions share of the effective work.

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If you were at any recent Oshkosh, or at this years Zenith Open House or last years Corvair College #34, Dave was at all of these events, pitching in to make each of them better for Corvair builders. At College #34, both Dan Weseman and I agreed that it was Dave, who showed up and assisted builders breaking down cores and getting them going, who was our critical volunteer assistant. Keep in mind that Dave didn’t even bring any of his own engine to the College, he just drove a couple of hundred miles each way to assist other builders.

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EAA - Homebuilders HQ's photo.

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Above is Jack Bally, Dave’s uncle with his scale B-17G. Yes, that is a single seat experimental aircraft. you can read more at this site: http://www.theballybomber.com/

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After the crew of volunteers helped us set up the day before Oshkosh 2016, we went out to a very posh restaurant called Jansen’s in the old district of Oshkosh. From the outside it looks like any other brew hall in town, but inside it is pure class, and the food is outstanding. From the left, Dave Bally, John “Nungesser” Schmidt, and Grace.

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OK, here is the photo you I can share since Jack Pelton, Chairman of the EAA has already signed my Major Achievement Award. That is Grace, myself, and ‘Outlaw Kitfox’ builder Mike Maury. The Three of us and Dave and John headed out to dinner together.  When we got to Janson’s, there was only one table left. Since we were all wearing aviation shirts (and a little underdressed for Janson’s), the waitress knew were we in town for Airventure. The local people don’t call it that, nor Oshkosh, they universally refer to it as “EAA”.  She walked right up to us and said “Are you from EAA?” which we replied “Yes.” She lead us right to the only table, which was marked ‘Reserved’. I was exhausted and thought it was very nice they reserved a table for any people attending Airventure.

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Right after we ordered dinner, In walks Jack Pelton, head of the EAA. (He is the guy in the blue polo shirt in the background above) Even with my dulled brain, I quickly understand that our waitress was actually asking if we were from EAA headquarters, the people who actually reserved the table, not asking us if we were attending Airventure. and we had just taken Mr. Pelton’s table, which lead to the slightly childish picture above. A moment later we told our waitress we were more than willing to share it. To his credit, Jack Pelton didn’t raise the slightest fuss, nor complain to the staff, nor did he try to pull rank. He just pulled up a place at the bar and ate dinner with some friends. While I have previously been critical of the upper management of EAA, a number of trusted friends who work at headquarters everyday have assured me that Pelton is actually the right guy to head EAA at this time, just as Paul Poberezny was the right man to be the founder of the association.  I can be opinionated, but I will always listen to rational people who have more first hand experience than I do.

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