…and the parade of animals continues.

Builders,

Not much gets the system going like an indoor water moccasin encounter. So I still have things to do today, so I toss the snake carcass in the pond, get a coffee to replace the one I spilled over the snake, and head out to the hangar and promptly jump out of my skin and spill the next coffee…..over a pigeon?

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OK, its a one pound bird, but I’m at my “startled by animals in the hangar” daily limit.  I can’t explain why, but this guy is marching all around my hangar.  He can fly, but keeps coming back. If his eagle vision was supposed to warn me of the presence of a big snake, well sorry buddy, you are 10 minutes late to work, and you owe me another coffee.

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Just outside the side door. He has some kind of a band on his ankle. Probably on probation. Someone should contact his parole officer and mention that it isn’t funny to scare middle aged men for entertainment. One more visitor and I’m going to take it as a sign I should have gone to the beach today.

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ww.

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Springtime brings unwelcome visitors.

Builders,

I just was refilling my coffee, walked the 10 feet from the house to the hangar and found this 38″ water moccasin sunning himself. People attribute all kinds of qualities to snakes, but after a childhood in Thailand with cobras and a few decades with moccasins in Florida, It is my opinion that snakes are slightly dumber than cockroaches, which at least know to run.

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No matter what TV personalities think, there are good reasons some people chose to own firearms, and here is my personal reason for the day. The wold record for moccasins is only 59″, and 38″ is nothing to be trifled with. The bite has the potential to be fatal, but isn’t frequently. However, the treatment will leave you very sick for a long time, and many people end up with amputations from the necrotic tissue damage.  This snake took that 20 gauge #8 hit in the middle and was still able to bite at a shovel minutes later.  I don’t mind looking after my own safety, as long as I, not others,  get to chose the tools.

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ww.

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When the Hangar doors become 3″ taller overnight…..

Builders;

How do you know your morning coffee hasn’t saturated the critical neurons yet? Last week I walked out to the hangar just before sunrise, and saw something really odd: My hangar doors appeared to have become 3″ taller overnight. The gap between them and the ground, and the gap between the doors and the hanging tracks had disappeared. For 6 seconds while I just sipping my coffee at first light, the doors seemed to have gotten taller.

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One more gulp of coffee, and I realized the 40′ span front hangar beam has actually given out and sagged down until the weight of the doors was on the ground. My second delusional thought was “This is probably going to take all day to fix.”  It’s in the home stretch today, but it has most of the productive hours of the last 8 days in it.

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My hangar is a 50 x 40 wood structure, it may be the oldest original building on our airport, it predates my house by 20 years. Although it is lightly built, it survived two dozen hurricanes and nor’easters. At the time it was built, our airport was just a little grass strip, a fun place to put up a simple pole barn hangar.  No one conceived of it as the community it has become 45 years later. Almost all the hangars built here in the last 25 years are large modern metal buildings.  The gray truss is the replacement steel beam I welded up from heavy wall 1.5″ square tubing. its 40′ long and 2′ deep. the brackets on the front support the door tracks, which hang from the beam.

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The Aviation lesson here: 

When Grace and I bought the house in early 2006, my plan was to tolerate the hangar for 2 or 3 years, and then tear it down and replace it with a modern metal building, financed off house equity, because every genius in 2006 knew that house values were never going down……

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By 2010, the value of our property was roughly $100K less than we paid.  I didn’t really care, it wasn’t an investment to flip, it was our permanent home, but it was obvious that I was keeping the existing hangar for a long time. This weeks main beam is one of many projects I have done to upgrade the hangar. When external financial situations change, if you still need a hangar or a homebuilt plane, your best option is to get resourceful and productive.  The only other option is quitting, and being the kind of person who was a lot of dull stories about things he was going to do before some ‘villain’ or ‘impossible situation’ showed up.

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The type of skills, attitudes and perspectives I write about, those of the traditional home builder, are exactly the ones I put to work building the gray beam and installing it.  While 90% of the hangars on our airpark are more ‘valuable’ on paper, there is a specific satisfaction to making a major working component that other people bought…..just like your engine.

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Putting away tools in the dark last night, I was consumed with thoughts of times past in the hangar, with my Dad, Grace and the dog, friends now gone, planes and engines which flew away, times never to return. In the dark, everything seemed past tense.  This morning I went out in the sunshine, it is a warm sunny day here.  I walked out on our green runway with bare feet and a coffee, and looked back at my hangar. It seems big when you are making a beam to span it, but walk 400′ away, and  it changes to a small pole barn with a rusty tin roof. Which perspective is real?

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But, from such a little setting has come continuous flow of parts, components and builders who learned a lot. The sunshine always makes me think of things to do, times ahead, friends both old and yet to be met, to share these with.  With that thought I walked back to the hangar, pick up some tools and build the next chapter of my life.

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ww.

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The vital element of Safety: Training

Builders,

Like many aviation professionals, I have found the coverage of the Boeing 737 accidents pathetic. The media is very weak on most technical subjects, but aviation is always a topic they forget their journalism on and resort to inflaming public fears for ratings.

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Their entire narrative is about Boeing, totally ignoring to completely obvious factor: The 737-max 8 is one of the most advanced machines mankind has ever made, yet foreign carriers are operating these this crews who don’t have enough flight experience to qualify for giving a sight seeing flight in a Cessna 172 inside the US.  CNN has reporters trying to explain ‘fly by wire’ controls, ( Oblivious to the fact they are describing an Airbus not a Boeing ) and never mentioning that the Ethiopian Air Co-pilot had only 200 hours of flight time total, and very questionable training. Few people commenting on this aircraft understand that many foreign pilots are very, very reluctant to ever try to hand fly any element of this planes flight envelope, and they are discouraged from trying it, and this makes them very reluctant to turn off the autopilot, even when it is in error. The Ethiopian Air co-pilot would not have been allowed anywhere near the flight deck of a US operated 737, with good reason. Thinking you can be safe by having very sophisticated machinery, and ignoring the training level of who is flying, is insanity.

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Good thing no one in Experimental Aviation thinks that way, right?

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Look at the picture above, remember when you had 200 hours of flight time, and ask yourself if you would have been comfortable walking onto the flight deck of this plane, with the lives of 100+ people behind you, and taking off.  That is exactly what the ownership of Ethiopian Air did, and now they offer emotional commentary about Boeings alleged poor judgement.

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We are a week away from Sun n Fun 2019. I have been going there for 30 years. Wander through the endless displays and you can see a dazzling supermarket of things for people in Experimental aviation to buy. Ask any salesman if the product he is selling is ‘safe’ and without any doubt he will say it is.  Notice how tiny the segment of products are which qualify as direct training: Books, companies offering flight training and transitions, training on engines and systems. It is as if the management of Lion Air set the priorities of US homebuilders. How well do you think that will work out? 

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I have spent 30 years teaching builders about the engine that powers their plane. This wan’t done so they can save money like most people first guess. This was done because I know that training in aviation is paramount, and without it, no machine can be considered reliable nor safe.  Salesmen, ( and the ownership of Lion Air )would try to tell you otherwise, but that is like trying to argue that you could replace Chesley Sullenberger with a 200 hour pilot and expect the same outcome on the Hudson River.

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You don’t run Lion Air, nor Ethiopian Air,  but you are CEO of your own aviation enterprise, and you also will decide what portion of your budget will be for supposedly ‘safe’ equipment, and what portion of your program, in both time and money,  will be devoted to learning, training, understating and mastery.  Choose wisely, physics chemistry and gravity judge inadequacy without a trace of mercy.

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wewjr.

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PS; If you see me as an aviation grease monkey from Florida, perhaps out of his element commenting on International air transport, keep in mind I’m a graduate of the worlds finest aviation university, most of my close friends are aviation professionals, and the chief person I ran this past before typing this happens to be a current 25,000+ hour ATP qualified in both Boeing and Airbus aircraft. Anyone can question my perspective here, but if they are driven to do so, perhaps for the sake of their future passengers, they should ask themselves why they are downplaying training.

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Something humorous: How you know ‘journalists’ are a joke today: Boeing has more than 5,000 737s on order today, that is 10 years worth of production, it is the most successful airliner in world history, more than 10,000 of them have been built. This particular aircraft is the #1 threat to Airbus.  About a third of Airbus is owned by European states. Journalists are completely blind to how quickly and why European entities condemned the 737, these people have a very strong vested interest in seeing how many of the 5,000 Boeing orders they can get canceled. Notice how not a single news reporter questioned the flight data recorder being sent to France for analysis. It’s all a big charade. Just make sure your own aviation program has a lot more integrity that this circus, because you do have a vested interest in that story.

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A meeting of the ‘Appliance Assassins’

“I’ve killed microwaves and laptops. I’ve killed everything that plugs in or has a ‘not user serviceable’ sticker at one time or another. And I’m here to kill you, Little water heater, for what you done to Ned.”

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Builders,

We had a very busy weekend working at my place, with a lot of assistance from Dan Sheradin on NC, the same Corvair/Pietenpol builder who helped out with this project: Stromberg Shootout, Pt #2.

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On Saturday afternoon Dan and I took a short break, along with Ryan from SPA, for another session of our club, The ‘Appliance Assassins.’ The subject of todays attention were two water heaters removed from my house.

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In my personal view, there are powerful consumer forces trying to fill your life with junk appliances, and the antithesis of this is choosing to have real machines in your life. I covered the concept in this story: Machines vs Appliances Part #2. Terminating appliances is powerful reminder to stay focused on mechanical quality, particularly in all things aviation. I have shot my old malfunctioning Dell laptop with a Thompson SMG, and it was the most rewarding feeling I ever got from a computer.

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Above, I’m holding Ryan’s Freedom Arms 83 chambered in .454 Casull, a very potent cartridge.  To see some of my previous “A-A” club work with Ryan, get a look at this: Machines vs Appliances, putting metal in microwaves.

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This is an appliance sticker, and it should be revolting to you also. Selling things knowing nothing about them is gross, and besides, this planet can’t afford to have 6 billion people on it running through disposable appliances. The comparative solution is machines which last, preferably built by your fellow countrymen who need quality jobs to have a fair shot at having a rewarding life. It isn’t PC or fashionable, but this is important: Made in America – data plates – obituaries to US manufacturing jobs .

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American craftsmanship, both of the above at Freedom arms products, one in .454 Casull, the other in .22LR

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Table of hardware, mostly Dan’s. Ruger Alaskan is in .44 Mag. The LCR-X is mine. All of these were made in America. Everyone has a natural right to be proud of the work of the craftsmen of their own land, only in America are some people apologetic about such natural pride, and it is typically people who have no connection to manufacturing who don’t understand why anyone would admire the craftsmanship of his neighbors, people from his own community and life experience. People who have been brainwashed to be pure consumers, people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, are the last to understand pride in craftsmanship and honest quality work.

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Dan with Marlin in .30-.30. Went right through heater, didn’t care it was full of water.

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.454 Casull went right through both sides also. .44 Mag had a bit of trouble doing so out of a 3″ barrel.

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Top to bottom, .30-.30, .454 Casull, .44 Magnum.

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Myself, Dan and Ryan, in my yard, after another productive meeting of the Appliance Assassins.

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WW

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The Limiting Agent: Motivated Builders.

If anyone reading this is offended, bear in mind I just write these things to keep from being invited to weddings and to keep my Christmas card list short. – love, ww.

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Builders;

Every year at Oshkosh, the most common question asked is “What if you run out of Corvair engines to rebuild? I get this same question 25-50 times a day, all week, and I have been politely answering it all week for 25 years.  “We will never run out of Corvairs, they made nearly 2 million, even if 2% are left, it dwarfs the amount of serious homebuilders.”

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Almost invariably, the person asking this is an EAA member, loves homebuilts, is certain he is going to build one someday, but if quizzed, he hasn’t made up his mind, they all look good but he is waiting to see how a new and exciting kit he read about in a press release is doing (as an industry insider, I already know in most cases they have already filed for bankruptcy) I will often see the same person, year after year. If you listen close, he always tells you some story of how he didn’t build X or Y because when he looked into it, he found the flaw

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The “Someday” homebuilder thinks he has discovered an issue with the Corvair, because they were built long ago, there must be almost none left. Doesn’t matter that I can rationally demonstrate that 90% of a 3.3L or a 3.0L EIB engine is all new parts, and the other 10% could be made if needed, but it will never be needed because there are 100,000 left, about 5 for every real builder in the EAA, It doesn’t matter rebuildable cores are so cheap I give one away at Oshkosh every year.

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None of my reasons matter because “Mr. Someday” isn’t asking for planning purposes or even to understand availability; what he is looking for is a plausible reason he can  yet again,  tell everyone in his EAA chapter the ‘flaw’ or the ‘issue’ he ‘discovered’ that he can tell his friends about, which he will offer as the reason he didn’t get started building anything again this year. Such a person isn’t likely to even buy a finished homebuilt, as he doesn’t really love homebuilding, certainly not enough to sacrifice nor work for it…..what he really loves is the idea of being perceived as a homebuilder. 

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Above, a milk crate of Corvair forged connecting rods in my shop. This is 7 rows deep, 14 rods in each row. If these were O-200 rods, the crate would be worth more than $5,000, because they are scarce. Because they are Corvair rods, and GM made 12 million Corvair rods, the crate is worth about $12, the going value of 94 pounds of high grade scrap steel. 5 years ago the crate was worth about $500, but today no one buys Corvair used rods because new billet ones are available for less money that it would cost to rebuild these. There is no ‘availability’ issue with Corvairs, there never has been, and there never will be.

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The real ‘shortage’ is actual motivated homebuilders. The EAA has plenty of ‘Mr. Someday”s, the ranks have become swolen with spectators and posers in search of another excuse for not getting in the arena, but the actual number of real traditional builders is much smaller than you think. Someone is going to point out the number of RV aircraft at Oshkosh, but follow this microcosm: we have 10 RV’s at our little airport, exactly ONE of the ten is being flown by the guy who bought the kit and built it. All the rest are second owners, and many of their planes are the work of serial RV builders who have churned out many planes for profit. The percentage will vary at your airport, but understand that 10 RV aircraft doesn’t indicate the presence of 10  traditional builders. At my airport it means 1 builder, 1 finisher, and 8 retired airline pilots with money to spend, but unwilling to build.  I don’t think of that last group as homebuilders. To paraphrase Jeff Cooper, Owning a homebuilt built by someone else doesn’t make anyone a homebuilder any more than owning a guitar makes someone a musician. 

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Here is the Good News:  If you are a real homebuilder, and to me, you don’t need a plane to be one, you just need to be motivated and willing to learn and build, and have a plan in your mind that you are advancing on, then understand I am here to serve you, and their are far less people competing for my time than you are imagining. Want to learn? Want to build? Good, because I am here to share what I have learned with people who will use that knowledge.

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When I go to Oshkosh, I am looking to find just 50 new serious builders each year. Thats it.  I have several hundred active builders, but I try to add 50-70 new, motivated builders per year. This is a lot harder to find than rebuildable Corvair engines. Builders are the limiting agent, not just with Corvairs, but with the EAA in general. If this wasn’t true, the EAA would not have added the other divisions like aerobatics or warbirds, and hire writers who are aiming their output at spectators not builders.  If you are reading this and you have a dream of really learning and building, then you are not only a rarer breed than you think, you also happen to be the type of person the EAA was founded on, real homebuilders.  The shortage isn’t metal parts, its actual motivated builders. If you mistakenly think that my commentary here just applies to Corvairs, walk over to the Zenith booth at Oshkosh and ask them if their factories potential kit output is the limiting factor or if the number of people unwilling to settle for spectator status is the real limiting factor. It isn’t metal, it’s people. 

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Would you like to make this year actually count for you? Decide right now that you will invest $750 in yourself this year. For this money, you can buy a conversion manual of mine and DVD’s, buy a good Core motor in your area, and even later in the year attend one of my smaller group colleges and learn all about your engine. You will be choosing the path of traditional homebuilding, you will be identifying yourself as one of the 50, one of this year’s serious builders.  If you stop coming up with all the reasons why you shouldn’t get started, I will gladly, in one day, show you all the reasons why you will wish you started years ago. 

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Wewjr.

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shop.flycorvair.com/shop/

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Cruising at Flight Levels .5 to 1.0

Builders,

When selecting the lower Flight Levels for cross country work, particularly in aircraft with restricted forward visibility, be aware there may be large solid objects at your cruise altitude.  They may be inconveniently painted colors which camouflage them in low overcast.

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Found this picture in the bottom of an old file cabinet today. Took it from my Pietenpol on the way to Brodhead and Oshkosh 2000. The Alabama water tower says “Tuskegee.”  Even when I was younger, stupid and without plans of living to comb gray hair, I never intentionally overflew a populated area at low altitude. The picture above shows a pre-GPS navigational mistake on a 1,300 mile flight intended to be done entirely over rural areas.

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Wewjr.

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