Cooling failure caused by ego




What you are looking at is the bottom of a Corvair/Zenith Cowl. It is upside down, the rounded part is where the nose gear strut exits the cowl.  The right side is the part closest to the firewall where the air exits.  The orange level and square is there to visually show what 45 degrees looks like. To the right of the end of the level is the 2″ exit lip of the bottom of the cowl. This forms a fixed cowl flap, which makes the low pressure zone on the bottom of the cowl.  I have relentlessly specified that this must be at least 2″, and it absolutely must be 45 degrees to the bottom of the cowl.


Look at the picture and see the builder set it to 20 or 25 degrees at most. The effect? His 601HDS ran hot, he overheated the motor more than once, he publicly complained about the cooling and implied that other builders like Larry Nelson, flying the exact same combination in Yuma AZ was lying about his cooling success. He questioned if any Corvair ran cool, he was willing to search for any excuse, except the obvious one: the part of my advice he was unwilling to follow was the exact cause of his hot motor. This is a Cooling failure caused by ego. 


I spoke to this builder many times on the phone and pointed him to cooling articles I had written, and asked him just to copy it exactly instead of questioning every bit of it and treating the information as if it was all a big conspiracy theory to some how keep him from using his plane. In the end, he flew about 100 hours, and then took his plane apart and sold it in pieces. The wounded engine? he sold it to another builder, without clearly saying that he had overheated it badly. 


This isn’t a case of a kindly old guy who wasn’t good on the internet and missed a detail and we let him down. No, not that at all. Try this, He was an A&P mechanic in his 30’s who had attended a big Corvair College and seen plenty of working planes. His issue was simply not being willing to listen to my experience when it conflicted with his perception of what should be happening. That is not a failure of engine nor materials, it is a failure caused by ego.


The stupid move above was not the only thing he needed to do differently. he tried running his engine on the ground with no cooling ducts for 30 minutes and never thought to shut it off as the rpm decided. That was $3,000 for new heads and pistons. The is the same individual who made his cabin heat muff right up against the bottom of the head impending airflow. He used a blunt spinner, arguing it didn’t effect cooling. He did put 5″ inlet rings in his cowl, and then bitched they didn’t work. Doing this but having no working cowl flap on the exit side is akin to complaining about the radiator in a pickup truck not cooling, and saying you have the grill clear, but neatly failing to mention you have a piece of cardboard between the radiator and the fan. All of these actions were not caused by lack of information, it was simply because he was unwilling to follow information that was readily presented to him. 


You don’t know his name, but you have met him many times: He is the guy standing there with his arms tightly folded for 15 minutes as I answer a question he asked, but I’m not saying the words his ego needed to hear to feel vindicated. He is the guy who will not follow advice for a guy with 800 hours of Corvair time without incident, but spends hours studying an old website from someone who quit Corvairs a decade ago, after having a long series of failures. He is the guy who’s ego needs to make his engine ‘different’ or ‘unique’ because the positive comments from internet tolls mean more than successfully flying his plane with a proven system. He is the guy who blames everyone body but himself when he exits Corvairs, and issues a earnest sounding warning to other builders that doom is in the future, because a brilliant guy like him couldn’t succeed, so they have no chance. 


I have said countless times, new builders and the eternal ‘I’ll build one day’ people are fascinated with every story of people who claim to have issues, but they will spend next to no time studying the Builders who are out successfully flying the same combination that the guy exiting claims will never work.




Like to see more on good cooling on the same plane? Check out this video:


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 30 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.

9 Responses to Cooling failure caused by ego

  1. Dan Branstrom says:

    We all stand on the shoulders of those who have done the right thing before. When we step away from them, we are on our own, and the probability of making a mistake goes up.

    It is all ego when we take no responsibility for the effects of our mistakes or fail to admit that we made one.

  2. Gordon Turner says:

    Your level and square look old. Are you sure they’re still accurate?

    Not a very nice piece, but another good reminder of what a builder focused on success should prioritize. Thank you as always William.

  3. Jackson Ordean says:

    What the above 2 said! And I may never build one…and I could make a mistake. It would be out of laziness and stupidity for sure, but never ego. I’m happily ignorant in terms of experience. But I’ve read and own the manuals and read the updates. And if I ever do build one, it damn sure will be according to what obviously is the only qualified expert in the Fly Corvair arena, i.e., William Wynne.

  4. David says:

    I hate to say it but its the horse and water scenario I think?

  5. John Slaughter (Piet builder) says:

    William- Your frustration with the builder/ subject could be interpreted by some as vindictive, but those who have been reading you for some time recognize that underneath the irritation is an earnest desire to communicate truth well. I for one have missed your writing- the world today is crazy for the image, but the written word lasts longer and touches harder and more deeply. Keep it up!

  6. Charlie says:

    William, love the you tube videos but hate the metal intro music. Old guy One Sky Dog

  7. Gordon Turner says:

    Hate the soft music. What kind of gearhead works in an elevator?


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