How many Corvairs are left?

Builders,

The title of this story is a perfectly acceptable question, and one I frequently place an educated estimate on.  It doesn’t bother me, even if it is asked many times a day at Oshkosh.  I do however contrast this with the person, who walks into my booth at Oshkosh and pronounces, “There are no Corvairs left. “ or “They don’t make parts for Corvairs anymore.”

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I was just about to type “It takes a special kind of idiot to say such things in the face of demonstrable evidence otherwise” but that isn’t correct. Statements like that are not the utterances of special idiots, they are spouted by common idiots. I have actually had a guy flatly say they don’t make parts for these engines while leaning on a stack of new boxes of pistons that was 4 feet high. I pointed out to another person who said their are no engines available, the dozens of pictures on my website of recently finished Corvair powered planes, and asked him where he thought those engines came from. Ironically, no answer from the same guy who knew everything 2 minutes before.

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It has been my experience that you can’t use budget, prior experience, age, nor outlook to predict is a guy will be successful in homebuilding, however, I have noted that the guy who likes to start every conversation in homebuilding with a statement that he absolutely ‘knows’ to be true, is the guy least likely to enjoy learning, and therefore least likely to be a guy who finishes a plane. Be aware that common idiots are not just found at Oshkosh, they are at nearly every airport in the country. For a laugh, I highly suggest getting a look at this: A visit to the insane asylum .

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Above, a very heavy box in the back of my 3/4 ton truck in the front yard this morning.  It was 48″x 40″ by 40″ and packed solid with Corvair cylinder and connecting rod cores being truck shipped to Clark’s Corvairs in Massachusetts. the rear suspension is compressed about 8″.

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The box has about 50 engines worth of cylinders and rods, and these are all going back to Clark’s for reboring and rebuilding. I collect them up over time, and send them back in a large lot. Think this is a big amount? I have been to Clarks shop, and this isn’t 5% of what they have on hand, and I strongly doubt that Clark’s is holding 5% of the remaining Corvair cylinders….Oh, by the way, 2,850, 3,000 and 3.3L Corvairs are all based on new cylinders and rods, so everything in this box can be applied to 2,700cc Corvairs.

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There are probably less than 5% of the original 1.8 million Corvairs left. If that sounds small, it is 90,000 cars. We live in a nation of 250 Million registered cars. Any reasonable person can look at those numbers and understand a ratio of 2,778:1. and probably on the order of 20,000:1 in a daily driver comparison, why you don’t see a Corvair driving down your street everyday. But only the common idiot looks at those numbers, the giant box of cores, the fact I have been doing this since 1989, and Clarks has been doing Corvair parts for more than 40 years, and still is sure enough to say there are no Corvairs left.

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Automotive production numbers dwarf anything aviation has ever made: The Jabbaru 3300, the Rotax 912 and the Continental O-200 are all good engines that serve particular builders. These engines have been made for 20, 30 and 60 years respectively. Corvair were produced for just 10 years 1960-69, but consider this: They made more Corvairs in the first 10 days of production in 1960 than Jabbaru has built 3300’s in the last 20 years; To match 30 years of 912s took GM till the third week of production in 1960; To match 60 years of O-200s took the GM engine plant about 50 days in 1960. And from there GM went on to another decade of engine building. It is my educated estimate, that there are more Corvair core engines remaining in the US, than the entire combined production of 3300’s 912s and O-200s. Give that some thought the next time someone tells you there are no more Corvairs.

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-ww.

Real moral power: HRH, the King of Thailand passes from this life

Builders:

News channels in the US will be occupied with pathetic stories of moral corruption today, and there can be no greater leadership contrast today than looking at the nation of Thailand, where their beloved king who has ruled for 70 years, has passed from this life.  Most of my friends know that I spent my childhood living in Thailand. While it has become an ever more popular tourist destination since we were there in the 1970s, few westerners ever took the time to understand that the King of Thailand was an incredible life-long example of real moral power.

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Above, my father speaking with HRH, the King of Thailand, in 1974. Being born in Massachusetts and educated in Switzerland, The king understood both western and eastern worlds. 

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During the cold war, our nation ‘befriended’ a number of terrible despots like Chang Kai-shek, Ferdinand Marcos and the Shaw of Iran. In complete contrast, Thailand shared our vision of a world without communist totalitarians, while being lead by a man whom we could be very proud to consider as an ally. If half our allies in the cold war had been people of his morality, the world would have been a much better place today.

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In the western world, we think of “Kings” in the European tradition, where they pronounce their powers as God’s will, declare themselves infallible, write their own law, have their enemies put in dungeons, behead their ex-wives and declare war on their colonies, all while sitting on vast wealth and great estates, tended by subjects that are beneath them. They declare themselves to have “absolute power” but in reality, they are weak because they lack one critical element: Moral Power. 

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The King of Thailand was the worlds longest serving ruler, having been king for 70 years. Contrary to western monarchy, he was not the head of the faith, nor was he leader of the armed forces; he didn’t derive power from legislation nor from wealth; he took no direct role in politics, and he directly spoke against the concept of infallibility, calling it an insult.   Yet for seven decades he remained the most respected and powerful man in a country of 65 million people. His entire life was a single example of ethical and moral behavior, one that was revered by the people of his nation, and in times of crisis, his leadership by example of ethical behavior, was a compass needle his nation chose to follow.

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Today, in our country, we have two people fighting to be in a position of leadership. I can say without the slightest hesitation, that even though one of them will be ‘elected’, there was never any chance that either one of them would be our nations ‘Leader’, because each of them, a long time ago, did things which permanently crippled any moral power they might ever have. Moral and ethical understanding of life is the critical element without which, no good can come. I would offer my condolences to the people of Thailand, but at this hour, it seems we might be the country who is suffering

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-ww.

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From the 2013 story: Happy Father’s Day William E. Wynne Sr. :

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“Thailand is a constitutional monarchy like England, but the Thais hold the deepest reverent respect for their royal family. The King is the longest serving ruler in the world, and is widely understood as a very positive force in a part of the world that knew very little peace or freedom. He was educated in the United States and knew that his country was on the front lines of the Cold War.

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The location of the photo was a construction site on Doi Inthanon, the tallest mountain in SE Asia. From 1971-74, my father was the OICC (Officer in Charge of Construction) in Thailand. This included numerous military and civilian infrastructure projects in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, and places as distant as Diego Garcia. My father worked equally hard on building hospitals and roads as he did building airbases. While all of Thailand’s neighbors, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, fell into savage rule by communist totalitarian regimes that ran from repressive police states to genocide, the Thai people were spared this trip to hell. My father remains very proud of the role he played in preventing their enslavement.

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As a show of respect for our Thai hosts, we lived in a typical Thai home, went to regular schools, learned the language, ate the food and always were deeply respectful of the people, customs and beliefs of our host nation. My father drilled into us that any shortcoming on our part would be tantamount to sabotaging the work that he and many other Americans were doing to ensure excellent relations between the two countries.  Today, 42 years later, I have no patience for any American who goes abroad and forgets what the word “guest” means.  At the conclusion of our time there, the Thai Secretary of Defense presented the Order of the White Elephant to my father. It is the medal on the ribbon around his neck in his official photo above.”

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Hurricane Reading – “The Winged Watchman”

Builders;

During the hurricane, our power was out for two days. With the hangar flooded, there wasn’t much to do. In the middle of the storm I did ride the dirt bike around the airport, but after visiting neighbors I headed home to read something. The book I picked out was “The Winged Watchman” a 200 page 1960 children’s book which I had retrieved from the book shelves of my parents house last year. It was around when we were kids in the 60’s, and I am sure most of us read it in turn.

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I had never sat down and read the whole book, and was surprised how good it was. It was intended for children, perhaps from 10-15, but it was obviously written by an author who took writing for children as a serious challenge rather than an excuse for weak work.

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The subject of the story is a child’s life in the Netherlands during Nazi occupation. It covers family, faith, work, collaborators, patriotism, hiding partisans, downed airmen and Jews, famine, fear and forgiveness. I got the sense that the book was written 15 years after the war, when children born after it were just old enough to understand what their parents and families had lived through, and it was important to the author that the next generation understand something of this. I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, and I’m sure there are great things about them, but I suspect they have less to teach about life than older children’s books did.

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Too few American kids read Anne Frank’s “Diary of a young girl” in school these days, and almost no Americans can place Anne Frank as being hidden for 750 days in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The Winged Watchman was published at the same time that European Neo-Nazis were just emerging to claim that Anne Frank was a hoax, and that she had never lived. If any of the writing in The Winged Watchman  seems slightly heavy handed, perhaps it can be forgiven when seen as having to counter claims that the Germans had arrived as benevolent overseers.

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If there was one good thing about the hurricane, it was reading a book that arrived on our family bookshelves more than five decades earlier, and reflecting on how important it was to my parents that our childhoods be filled with books and reading, even when we were a medium sized family living on the modest income of a junior Naval Officer.  Something that makes me feel very fortunate.

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-ww.

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