Vern’s 5/8 scale L-4.


Most Corvair builders know that Vern Stevenson is our neighbor and friend here at our little airport. He he is a life long welder, and has worked with me on Corvair stuff for many years. He also has done a lot with Dan and Rachel Weseman at SPA/Panther, and at our airport, he is known as a gregarious and hard working guy.


If you are a regular reader, then you saw this about Vern and snakes, and his vehicle which is half Geo metro and half Lancair 320: Fun with Agkistrodon Piscivorus and Vern’s Aero-Trike.

Or you can see pictures of his 100 mpg light trike project at the bottom of this: Weekend work, December 2015.

Or read about Vern’s 49 year old welder in constant use: American made tools, built to last.

Or read bout his years welding on US Navy aircraft: Shop Notes, 10/26/14

Or just look at a Corvair Sand Dragster he built in the 1980s: Corvair Performance from 1980-2016.


But below are pictures of one of Vern’s half dozen light planes. It is a 5/8 scale L-4 grasshopper. He built it about 10 years ago. It is made out if a lot of parts and materials dug out of the Sun n Fun Fly-mart, when that event was aimed at homebuilders rather than airshow spectators. He had about 6 months of part time work and $3,000, most of which was the used Global two cylinder engine. The plane is a tribute to scrounging and very skilled budget building. Not mainstream, but very ” Old School.”



Above, the plane sitting in my front yard. The wheels are very light ATV aluminum, and the tires were knobbies before Vern shaved them with a hand held electric planer. Tundra tires for $20 for the pair, wheels included.



Above, the fuselage is steel tubing, mostly 1/2″-.035 and 3/8″-.035.Instrumentation is as simple as it gets, behind the panel is a very complex 5 gallon hand crafted 6061-T-O tank. The aluminum in it cost $25, but the skill to make it took perhaps a decade of welding professionally to develop.




Above, 16 seconds of the Global running on my ramp. It is about, 1,000 cc. It was a purpose built aircraft motor that used many VW parts, but it has a unique cast case, not a cut down one. It is ‘about’ 35 hp. The prop is a 54 x 28, statics about 2950 or so.  The plane has tiny die springs in the gear.


Above, the L-4 style skylight. Note all the little aerodynamic points like streamlined struts and fairings including the strakes behind the trailing edges. The plane has split flaps. 1-26 hanging from the rafters in my hangar.



Above, a photo with of the plane in front of Vern’s hangar before tundra tires. My suburban gives some sense of how small the plane is. The top of the wing is below the shoulder of a 6′ person.


If you are fresh to home building, make this your ‘take away’: If you stay at homebuilding, you can learn all of the skills Vern has over time. You can create anything you want and are willing to work for. Anything you build with your hands will be more rewarding to you as a human being than any plane that anyone buys. The Wright Brothers built the 1903 flyer, and it flew a couple of minutes, but it did more for their lives than anyone who bought a Gulfstream Jet in the last year. Exercising creativity makes people happier than acquiring things.



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 and in more than 50 magazine articles.

7 Responses to Vern’s 5/8 scale L-4.

  1. Bob 'early builder' Dewenter says:

    I love Vern, he made my motor mount in your shop, but I can’t stop the images in my mind of Vern getting out of it (let alone in) unless three clowns came out after him 🙂

    No…I thought about it more…I cant see Vern getting in or out of that at all!

  2. Bob 'early builder' Dewenter says:

    It looks a lot like Don Harpers Mini Max.

  3. jaksno says:

    “Exercising creativity makes people happier than acquiring things.” True that!!

  4. Nick Chittenden says:

    Do you have any dimensions and weights for this aircraft? It’s a work of art!

    • Nick, it has a 4 foot cord and a 28 foot span , it weighs about 300 pounds. Vern built it by eyeball, he doesn’t even work things out in hand sketches he just looks at it for a log time and tack welds it several times until he likes the layout. -ww.

  5. Nick Chittenden says:

    He’s a clever guy; it’s a delighful ultralight. I have to comment that I enjoy this site and your writing very much. A combination of the thought provoking, inspirational, outrageous and downright hilarious is a regular treat. Please never give up!

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