Barnwell Corvair College #48 Cancelled

Barnwell Corvair College #48 Cancelled:

Don Harper, head of the hosting team in Barnwell, Ken Pavlou, our online organizer and medical authority and myself, came to a very tough, but unanimous decision today, that Corvair College scheduled for November in Barnwell is cancelled.

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Cal, PF, and Tim 2018

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The decision was driven by Covid, and our commitment to running an event with an acceptable level of risk to the people attending the College, Don’s volunteer staff, and people we would interact with from the host community.

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This is an informed, rational decision. Don is a county councilman, and briefed on the status of infection in Barnwell county. They are currently fighting through a very high rate of Covid-D that has their hospitals at 100% capacity. Public buildings in the county are now closed to non-essential business. The hangar we use is a county owned asset, and we can not make an honest argument that the College is an ‘essential’ function. We considered utilizing all precautions, but the very close proximity of hands on instruction, and the 24 hour a day nature of the Barnwell events would negate these steps.

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The city of Barnwell has previously welcomed us with open arms for nine previous Colleges. Asking them for an exemption in the middle of their battle would risk us bringing in a further burden to their health care system, and equally important, it would be the definition of selfish ingratitude, for all times they had previously welcomed us. While Don did not say this, it is important that builders understand that Don, Tim and Cal, the core crew in Barnwell are each in their 70’s, and have conditions that put them in a high risk category. Both Ken and I believe putting them at elevated risk is unacceptable. As a final word on the matter, Don simply said “I knew PF Beck as well as any man, and I know if he were still alive, he would make the same decision to protect everyone”.

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Cancelled or Postponed?

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We are canceling the event, and all people who registered will receive full refunds over the next few days. The primary intent of the event was to hold a tenth Barnwell College, and have the event also serve as a special remembrance of P.F. Beck, the driving force behind the Barnwell Colleges, and an aviator and human being of the first order. We have decided that the latter purpose is the most important one, and this would be best served by having a Corvair Fly-in and weekend social gathering at Barnwell in P.F.’s honor at a later date when safer conditions prevail.

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The Future, and the evolution of Corvair Colleges:

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While this Barnwell College #48 is canceled, I actually held 50 Corvair Colleges since 2000. The un numbered San Antonio College of 2003, the 2006 Canada College, and Colleges 6, 8, and 9 having “B sessions” brings the total up. They were held from Orlando to Portland, and from Boston to Los Angeles. More than 1,000 builders attended, and more than 200 engines were test run. Dozens of Corvair powered planes flew in to these events. Its a pretty good track record, considering the only thing anyone ever paid for was the direct cost of the catered food. The events are really a tribute to the friends who put in the hard work of hosting and volunteering.

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It was my original intent to have a spectacular College #48, and then announce that I would close the 22 year history of Colleges on the last night of #48. For several years I have considered evolving from Corvair Colleges to something new, but it was very difficult to close the chapter on events that brought a great deal to my life, but have also taken a great commitment in time and resources. I do not make this decision lightly, and typing these words brings back a flood of memories of good times with great people, and particularly powerful memories from the Colleges my Father came to.

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Hundreds of people who told me they were ” Going to attend a Corvair College someday”. Many of these people said this to me repeatedly over 10, 15 and even 20 years. It was mostly well intentioned, but if those people are disappointed to read this, perhaps they need to take away the critical lesson my now gone mentor in aviation Chuck Nelson would say: “Wake up, it’s tomorrow.” He was referring to the remorseless march of time though our lives, and your only way to fight it is to aggressively decide to act, today.

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New ways to support builders and have fun in the future, Supervised Builds and Corvair Air Tours.

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My original intent in 2000 for the colleges was to hold 6 or 8 of them to train people who would themselves act as Corvair Tech Counselors in their local areas. The Colleges were more fun and rewarding that I originally imagined, and adding more of them was not difficult. The entire program changed over it’s lifespan, and it is now changing again

Supervised Builds have been going on at my hangar since 2019. I had more than ten builders come in ones and twos for these intense training sessions at my hangar in Florida. I used these builds, and the direct frank feedback from the people who had just assembled and run their engines to refine and improve the program. In the next two weeks I will have more information about the builds, the schedule and opportunity, along with YouTube videos of the builders who already completed their engines here.

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Colleges evolved to combine builder training with a Corvair Fly-in and social gathering for our builders. These do blend, but I would rather separate the work from the play, and have the settings purely serve their individual theme. In May of this year, the Shelbyville IL, fly-in we held in Conjunction with the Corvair Car Convention was a test run for a pure Corvair Fly-in event. It was very well received, and I want to have many more events like this in 2020. I’m fielding ideas for more locations , and I will be glad to take in suggestions in the comments.

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Questions?

If any builder has questions about how their build will be supported and served going forward, please feel free to call me directly, 904-806-8143.

William

4 Replies to “Barnwell Corvair College #48 Cancelled”

  1. Hi Will’ this is Fred. You did the right thing here Will, with all that is going on I believe that every one here will say the same thing, you made the right decision here. Talking to you and hearing the love you have for what you do here. I understand your pain having to cancel this event. I know this will be and imposition by asking for your help with this but if you would mind me coming down to your hanger with my engines and you look and here them and give some idea on what you thing is going on with the very light knocking noise in the ( 140 engine ). and look over the 180 engine. These motors are to expensive to the risk damaging and to expensive to pull a part if I do not have to. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Fred Metros 404-317-2088

  2. Have you thought about having small, in-depth classes to give a “Corvair builder certifications”, to a small number of quality individuals who are based all across the country. These “certified” builders could assist in the correct assembly of engines for those who cannot travel to you, and may be nervous to build without assistance.

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