When Sun-n-Fun was Really Fun.

Builders,

Sun N Fun is the second largest airshow in the country, and it has been around for decades. It is held every spring in Lakeland Florida. Today it has been transformed into a Walt Disney style family spectator event, but long ago, it was the bastion of experimental aviation, and a ritualistic gathering of original ultralight characters.

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Unlike today, where in the name of “make it nice, inoffensive and character free” airshows are promoted with images of yuppie families driving imported minivans to squeaky clean (and dull) events, There was a time where some events were actually fun for real people in aviation. The WW standard for “Fun” is a simple question: Would Pappy Boyington think this was entertaining? 

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I attended every single Sun-n-fun from 1989-2015, I stayed all week at most of them. There was a golden period, now gone for a decade, never to return, where the Ultralight people easily would have met Pappy Boyington’s nocturnal approval. While there was an official Ultralight party every year, the whole week was a series of great evenings with the characters who made up the vibrant world of Ultralights.

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Above, witness a historical aviation artifact of the first order, A one Gallon container for “Muzzle Loader” , a volatile moonshine made by the legendary Chuck Slusarczyk ( who is in the EAA hall of Fame)  The jug  is carefully preserved in my hangar, awaiting the day when the horrible trend trying to make everything ‘nice’ is reversed, and this jug can take its rightful place in the EAA museum.

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Muzzle Loader was so potent it would take the bottom out of a white styrofoam cup in 5 seconds, yet it was willingly consumed by hundreds of revelers at the Ultralight parties in the 1990s. Chucks rock band, complete with background singers in choir robes, would hammer out classic covers like “Sweet Home Alabama”  and originals like the “Zooming'” song.  Most people know I very rarely drink anything at airshows. People guess at the reason, buy its this simple: nothing today could hold a candle to an evening lead by Chuck Slusarczyk, so there really isn’t much point in trying.

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Above, screwed to my hangar wall, an official sign for one of the later parties. At the early ones the beer was free, provided by a local distributor. Lakeland is in Polk county, a particularly hard core blue collar, place that breeds a very strong party mentality. The Ultralight party was known for attracting dozens of Polk county’s most fun women, many of whom would be there as groupies year after year.

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Muzzle Loader is good for you, just read the label.  One year I coined the phrase “Muzzle Loader – Liquid Dignity Remover by Slusarczyk” and Gus Warren printed very popular shirts which bore this motto.

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Yes, some things need a warning label.

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Different Years came in different flavors: this was a 2001 jug, that year Chuck made 17 gallons of “Black Bury Falver” , which was patterned after a family 1927 recipe.

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Above, My Pietenpol at the last hours of Sun n Fun 1996. From L to R, Gus Warren, Steve Upson and a much younger version of me. The smiles are strained, we had spent the previous night at the Ultralight party. The Photo was taken by EAA’s Mary Jones, who had the great fortune of being close friends with many of the original 1980s Ultralight people. I consider myself fortunate to have had fun with them in the 1990s, today, this type of fun is just a memory from a different era. 

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Wewjr.

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Corvair Oil Analysis

Builders,

One of the smartest things you can do with your Corvair engine is run a continuing oil analysis program on it, this is a very valuable tool for monitoring your engines health, and we as Corvair people have a ‘secret weapon’ in oil analysis, and it is called Larry Nelson.

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Larry has a flying Corvair powered Zenith 601, and he has been around Corvairs and Corvair Colleges for a long time. He knows oil testing very well, and he works at the Yuma Proving Grounds. No, he isn’t an “internet expert” on this, he is an actual expert.

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Larry’s business can be found at  LNClabs.com , or you can call him direct at 928 304 9848.  Each sample costs a mere 15 bucks. You are paying for the test in advance by purchasing the sample cup and coupon, which you mail in when you test, and Larry emails you the results, or you can call and speak with him about it. I keep about 10 kits handy here for our various Corvairs at the airport, but buying 4 at a crack makes sense for most people. Keep in mind, it’s main benefit is trend monitoring, it isn’t nearly as valuable as a one shot deal.

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Larry suggests every 50 hour oil change, or at least ever 6 months, and points out that there is logic to spot testing  before a long cross country. The fact that Larry is a Corvair builder and pilot, and flying Corvairs are his focus, gives him a very good comparative data base. I send him samples from standard engines we build and use here, so we have a pretty good evaluation for “normal” which you can’t match by looking at tiny flakes in your oil filer element.

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Here is the hardest part of oil analysis for most people to understand: Reading Larrys site, and planning on doing this ‘one day’ offers the exact same level engine data and understanding as doing nothing at all. Yes, hard to believe, but this is true, to actually get any benefit from this tool, oil samples must be sent in! Once a builder gets this critical element of the program, it can start to work for him. When you speak with people, many people are familiar with the concept, but too few follow through with action.

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If you have a flying plane, or an engine you are planning on running this year, make a plan now to have it on oil analysis for this years operations. By choosing this, you are adding a serious professional tool to your operations, and setting yourself apart from the crowd who justify all their inactions with the phrase “it will be alright.”

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Above, oil kits as Larry ships them. The item at the bottom is an optional pump which allows taking a sample through a dip stick tube in the middle of the run. Not required for most analysis programs, I just have one because of our test programs.

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Yes, Larry is the same guy who paid for his corvair parts in ammunition at CC#34. He has personal style which makes average Rotax owners and models for the Sporties polite catalog uncomfortable. The operative question of the day was: Would you like to trade benjamins, plastic or lead?  Above, Larry Nelson’s engine on the bench at Corvair College #34.  Read the story here: Acceptable methods of payment for Corvair parts.

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Its nice to know that you are getting a quality service while supporting a family man who is working to make sure aviation still has character.  Full Disclosure: I make nothing off promoting Larrys efforts, it is just a good idea, but he did promise me that if I get to his neck of the woods we can have an afternoon of full-auto with at the range. In Larry’s part of AZ, this is simply referred to as “Hospitality”.

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Above, a picture of the coupon which comes with every one of Larry’s test kits.

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Wewjr.

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Valentines date with two pairs of .38s

Builders,

We have many more aviation stories in the works, but I thought I would share this timely non flying one with builders. 15 minutes before sunset, my neighbor Ryan called to say he wanted to come over and use my backstop, we decided to make it an all .38 event.

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For all of you better gentlemen who spent a few hours paying your respects to a manufactured holiday, buying flowers and waiting in line for a mediocre dinner in a crowded restaurant, vicariously enjoy a better way to spend the evening on 2/14.

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After the light was gone we headed inside an a number of friends and neighbors stopped by for lasagna and beer, followed by a lot of conversation on building and flying to be done this season.  Notably, this memorable evening started when one person Ryan, decided to do something non-typical and out of the routine. The same impulse that gets many things in aviation going with the start of a new season.

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Above, the four .38s on my back porch, from the top, S&W, Taurus, S&W, and Colt. Contrary to media myth, reliable handguns are not ‘cheap’ none of these except the Colt are collectors items, but the total is still worth $1,800-$2,000.

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OK, so neither of us is Jerry Miculek, but we still have fun. This is 10 yards, mostly rapid fire. The four guns have very different points of aim, and two of them shot very differently with hand loads. The red tape is 2″ wide.

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Lawn chair become the shooting bench, IMHO, the S&W 10 (left) was the best shooter. .38 hand loads only cost 10 cents a round, factory ammo is about 25 cents a shot if you buy in bulk. It is inexpensive compared to most shooting. Revolvers give you all the brass back; autos scatter it in the yard. I have enough brass in my grass that you can hear it when you mow it with the tractor.

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Above, Ryan taking aim with a classic long barreled S&W; looks old, but was made in the 1970s. Shot very nice. Hope everyone reading this had a nice evening, just was we did here. There is human satisfaction to living in a place where responsible adults are trusted to engage in acts ranging from recreational shooting to building their own aircraft.

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-WW.

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