Would you rather be friends with a turtle or win an academy award?

Builders,

Would you rather be friends with a turtle or win an academy award? Simple question, and understand it or not, homebuilders will make this decision in 2017.

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2017 will be my 28th year of working with Corvair engines. Over this length of time, it has always been my approach to share “Old and Proven” with builders, all based on slow methodical development and extensive testing. In the last 28 years had many people criticize this slow evolution, saying that they were going to promote “New and Exciting” things. Most of those people and their companies are long gone, and a handful of them are no longer alive. They took a lot of peoples money with them, ended a lot of dreams, and took far to many lives. Crack open any sport aviation from the 1990s, and you will see my ads in the classifieds. I am essentially the only company left, still under the same ownership. That doesn’t mean I am a genius, it means I am just dumb enough to not know when to quit, and if you combine that with slow steady development, you get somewhere in 28 years.

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So that is the turtle part of the question, but what about the academy award? that sounds better. Drama comes from people making poor choices that result in exciting flying. When I got started, poor advice to new builders was limited to people at the builders airport. ( see:A visit to the insane asylum ) However, since Al gave us the internet, a new builder can get his poor advice from the biggest fool on the planet with a keyboard.

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Like some examples? Years ago, one of the most prolific ‘contributors’ to the big Corvair internet group vehemently argued that if a person put a snowmobile carb and a set of headers on a 2700 cc Corvair it would make 750 pounds of thrust. (he belatedly said the load cell was a rope tying it to a van). The same group has a guy in Africa who argued that people should use six motorcycle ignitions from a 1970s Honda instead of the distributor I make, get this…because he knew it would be more reliable. The same group had an engineer give a long series of dissertations about cowl inlet sizes for stol aircraft, with a beautiful calculation showing the area of the inlet, the density of air on a standard day. and the volume of air ingested at 50 mph. It was universally applauded…..to bad no one pointed out that there is this thing right in front of the inlet called the propeller, and it tends to accelerate air backwards into the inlets, and a Stol airplane generally has a 120+ mph slipstream over the cowl in a 50 mph climb. Mind you all of this advice was offered by people with little or no experience with Corvair powered planes. The people who listened to them had a hard time distinguishing between two animals: Unicorns vs Ponies.

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Looking back over the last 15 years of this, a small fraction of the internet experts ever took their ideas flying to see them fail, but they did convince a lot of people to “wait and see” how it turned out, or to start their engine assembly around poor ideas. These people had a really high rate of quitting when it became apparent the one line gurus they were following didn’t know much about the engine. So the choice for 2017 is simple: If you want to get to have your own trouble free story like this: Ken Pavlou’s Zenith 601XL hits 500 hours.  or this: Woody’s 2,850cc Corvair/601XL hits 400 hours. or a drama free test period like this:Brent Mayo’s Flying 3,000 cc Panther , decide that in 2017 you are going to become a follower of the slow and steady progress of the turtle.

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The alternative of course is to look for something on the internet that promises to yield much better results than anything that we have demonstrated with the conservative long-run approach. Just as you decide that going the proven path is the right choice for you, my experience has shown plenty of others will seek something ‘better’ in cyberspace. If you want to really understand that mindset, read this story: Waiting for the bus from Unicorntown to Cyberville

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A good number of the people headed for “new and exciting” secretly hope to “show everyone” how clever they are. In their heads they are practicing a not so gracious speech, just like the academy awards night, where they will be able to tell everyone just how smart they are for not restricting their project to the proven paths. I am pretty sure several hundred people must have done this in the last 28 years, but the closest anyone has come to giving the speech had to include a lot of drama about broken parts and off airport landings…..which were obviously someone else’s fault.

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Above, Prepping Paul’s Panther for it’s third flight. As the photo shows, it is still perfect VFR tee shirt weather down here in Florida, in spite of Christmas being 14 days away. Although it was carefully inspected, absolutely nothing had to be adjusted or changed for the flight. This is professionalism. Is there anyone who really believes that if you build your Corvair and install it according to suggestions from the internet, that the results will be this drama free? The answer is Yes, there are people who believe that fantasy, even though they have no reason, beyond wishful thinking, to think so.

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Above is a take off, filmed this morning, of Paul Salter’s 3,000cc Panther. Absolutely no drama. This is the way flying should be, but often people who chose to listen to internet experts or local engine guys get very different results. Often what sounded good as a new builder, reading internet discussion groups, no longer seems so cool when you are sitting in the cockpit alone, looking at the first flight. The trick is being able to picture that you don’t want that kind of drama, all the way back when you are getting started. Thinking about this early on, and making decisions to follow the proven path from square one will not only speed up your building, it will switch your learning provider from internet people to the guy who has been doing this for 28 years. Take your pick.

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“I have watched many of the same people get taken in by a new ‘revolutionary!’ idea every few years, never seeing that they would have been long flying if they had just given up on ‘new revolutionary!’ products with lottery ticket odds of success, and instead embraced the philosophy of proven designs with a track record in place of a promise. They will be waiting there in another 10 years because that bus isn’t ever going to come. The rainbow bus line from Unicorntown doesn’t have a stop on reality street, it only is headed to cyberville, and there is no airport in cyberville.” -ww, 2013

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Above, a snapping turtle goes about his business yesterday on the loop road of our airpark. They are civil, but capable of, and disposed to removing the fingers of overly forward humans. They can live over 100 years. We also have their really anti-social cousins, the alligator snapping turtle .

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If you would like to read another perspective piece, give this a read: Turtles and Cell Phones, 6/24/13.

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-ww.

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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 www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

2 Responses to Would you rather be friends with a turtle or win an academy award?

  1. michael mckosky says:

    Where is your airport? I have tried to find it on Google Earth to no avail. Just curious, but also in future might want to visit when final assembly/test occur.
    Thanks
    Mike

    • Mike,
      Our airpark is a residential home to about 90 people. Out of respect for their privacy, I avoid publishing the exact location and name of the place on the internet, to avoid having a lot of people stop in without invitation and ask neighbors “Do you know where the corvair people are?” Our neighbors didn’t sign up for that when they bought their home. We have friends and visitors down, but do so on an individual basis rather than just broadcasting the location into the blind. If that sounds a little over secure, remind me to tell you the story of the two guys from Montreal who made three laps around the airport road at 1am looking for my house. -ww

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