Corvair Mission 2019, Part #4, Large Colleges.

Builders:

Below is the story of our largest change in operations in 2019.  Many people think of large Corvair Colleges as our only interface with builders, ignoring events like airshows, finishing schools, demonstration EIB builds (like CC #44 will be) and one on one training at my hangar, and the newly emerging idea of the 10 person remote build schools.  Over the last 20 years, the 43 full Corvair Colleges I have held did gather most of the attention, but we also did a lot of other work. 2018 brought a lot of  evaluation, and the honest assessment that while  the 14  large flagship Corvair Colleges of Texas and Barnwell were outstanding events, they put a very heavy annual burden on two small groups of highly motivated volunteers. While the hundreds of builders they hosted were deeply appreciative and expressed this, in our larger community of builders if kind of became taken for granted that there would always be a Texas or Barnwell College to attend when ever people got around to it.  Nothing wrong with someone saying “I’m going to attend Barnwell someday” but the intention was not to conscript these friends into lifetime service, they were stepping up years ago, to fill a need and motivate others.

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Above, P.F. Beck in the black shirt and part of his loyal crew at Barnwell. I shot this the last hour of Corvair College #43 last november. These people brought you Nine Corvair Colleges.  – think about that; not just 20% of the Colleges held, but because of their size, 35% of the people who attended a College did so at Barnwell.  There were very detailed events, and the typical budget was over $7,000, but not a dime went to these people, they did it all as a show of South Carolina hospitality, their belief in the Corvair as an excellent way of getting more active builders in experimental aviation, and a particularly strong pride in their home airport, a facility they devoted a large part of their lives to.

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Above Kevin Purtee and Shelley Tumino, between Earl Brown and Katrina. I took this picture at Brodhead 2018. These friends, along with ‘Super Dave’ Hoehn of AZ, were the core people of bringing five major Corvair Colleges to Texas.  Again. this was a titanic first class effort, done completely as volunteers. They hosted more than 10% of the Colleges, and more than 20% of the builders. They hosted a College every year Kevin wasn’t deployed.  Additionally, Shelley did all on-line registration for all the Colleges for many years. People like this do not grow on trees, and you can justifiably feel blessed to have a handful of them in your life.

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After speaking with P.F. , Kevin and Shelley, I have come to the decision that we are going to suspend large colleges in Texas and SC for 2019, replacing them with the smaller training colleges I was speaking of in part 2 of this series.  While I am already nostalgic about good times we have all had, this isn’t a tough choice, because while neither group ever complained a bit, it was very obvious to me and  many other people, that a handful of Volunteers were doing a tremendous amount of work, and it was long past when would should have others shoulder some of the work.

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The of the good things about the 10-12 builder new format is how it allows a host to come forward, without them committing to the giant workload of a College the size of  one in Texas or Barnwell.  In NC, we have already had Dan and Tracy Sheradin offer to host one in the fall to take up part of the gap which will be left by Barnwell.

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If you get anything from reading this story, take this lesson to heart: While I’m pretty sure we will have another large Texas event years ahead, I’m reasonably sure that the Barnwell crew are going to rest on their record of nine Colleges.  I spent some quiet time speaking with P.F. about this, and he is very proud of his team and their work, and he wants it to stand on a high note. If year after year you read about Barnwell Colleges, and always promised yourself you would go ‘someday’, your chance has now closed. Aviation and life don’t wait for ‘someday’ , they are happening now, this season. In the next few days, when you read about the smaller events we will hold this year, do not make the same mistake of promising yourself that you will attend one of these events….’someday.’

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If you are one of the many who benefited from the generosity of these hosts, please use the comments section to share a note of gratitude for their efforts and what you received from them. 

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William.

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