Corvair Mission 2019, Part #4, Large Colleges.


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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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.’


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. 




10 Replies to “Corvair Mission 2019, Part #4, Large Colleges.”

  1. I have greatly enjoyed the two Barnwell experiences I have had and treasure the experience that PF Beck provided me in his Pietenpol. The whole team there are examples of what is great and wonderful in life. God speed to all.
    Ed Lee
    3100 Corvair

  2. I attended two of the Texas events hosted by Shelley and Kevin – the first one was like being in Wisconsin in the winter, but the experience was fun and it was nice meeting all the participants. The second college in San Marcos was also very enjoyable, but I attended as a spectator because I have ended up at 78 with a pacemaker and vertigo. I suspect someone is trying to send me a message….. Nonetheless, what William has been doing is vital for the future of sport aviation and homebuilding. At a time when the average family has less discretionary income than ever, expensive imported LSAs are not the future of light aviation – too few can afford them. It will be up to the homebuilders to show the way for everyone to get off the ground…..

  3. I had the privilege of attending the last 3 colleges at Barnwell, and they are among my most unforgettable life experiences – memories that I will cherish for decades to come. PF and his crew were such a joy to work with, and we builders owe them a large debt of gratitude.

    I feel it a great privilege to have purchased my core engine from PF, and to have brought it back to life at CC#43. So the next time I am at Barnwell, it will be to show PF how his core has made it all the way to a completed homebuilt airplane.

  4. As the last builder to run an engine assembled at Corvair College #43, KBNL, Barnwell Regional Airport, Barnwell SC, and a builder that enjoyed the southern hospitality of four colleges (#35, #39, #41, and #43) hosted by Mr. P.F. Beck and the Barnwell Crew of volunteers, I offer a heartfelt, Thank You! Thank you for your gifts of encouragement and resources to those of us engaged in fulfilling dreams of flight via William’s Corvair movement in the world of experimental aviation.
    Thomas Clepper

  5. My Dad and I attended #32 in Tx. The one where Kevin donned the Sock Monkey Hat of Power and strolled shirtless into the prop blast while it was sleeting. Ah, good times. My only question is, what is Kevin going to do with all those tables?
    First class event. Never wanted for anything. Kevin and Shelly were great. It was an honor to attend an event that they hosted.

  6. Texas crew,

    I attended #40 in the fall of 2017. This event was more impactful on me personally than one might plainly see. The week I returned home, my daughter was listed for a heart transplant. The good feelings and clarity of vision I gained from the College expanded my dream of getting involved in a great way to learn, build and fly, and helped see me through some very difficult personal times of living the hospital life waiting for a new heart and through the recovery. For this I am deeply grateful.

    Bryce Gorrell

  7. I attended 3 of the Barnwell Colleges. Each one was a treasured experience. At the first, David McBride helped me disassemble 2 cores I brought. I ran my engine at the last one. P.F.Beck, and crew, have my undying gratitude for their generosity and hospitality. I will miss attending these events.

    Lawrence Harris, Tellico Plains, TN

  8. Barnwell was/is a grand event. P.F. and crew made it memorable and worthwhile even if we only made it there once. Clearly an event that showcased what can be when folks work on the task at hand in a productive environment.

  9. To P.F. and all the Barnwell crew –
    Many thanks to you for all of your hospitality and kindness to me as a Corvair builder. Barnwell 2012 was my introduction to Corvair Colleges and how they should be hosted. I could not have started this Corvair journey had it not been for your willingness to host the Corvair College. And the experience of being at the Corvair College would not have been as fulfilling had I had to worry about meals and accommodations. You have set a standard of excellence that will be greatly missed, and not soon repeated. Thank you again.

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