Corvair 2,775cc / Kitfox

Builders;

Pictured below is the Kitfox of Dale Bogard, of northern WI. It has been flying about a year. You can tell at a glance the plane exhibits outstanding workmanship. I’ll do a longer report later, with numbers and details, but for now I would just like to share the images and Dale’s report that the plane has real good performance and is a very smooth flyer.

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As a slightly funny side note, several years ago at Oshkosh, a member of the Kitfox company told me he didn’t want anyone putting a Corvair in a Kitfox to use my nose bowl, because it would make the plane “Very Ugly”. In the words of Paul Harrell, ” I’ll let you be the judge” .

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WWjr

Where are Corvair Builders talking?

Builders,

A common question asked is “Where is the most active conversation on Corvair Flight engines taking place? Easy answer, it is on my Facebook page “WW Flycorvair”

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Before you point out that Facebook is an addictive app made for spying on people in a way that J. Edgar Hoover would have found unethical, let me say that I totally agree, and, yes I find the fact that Mark Zuckerburg is a ‘hero’ to some people in the way Neil Armstrong was a hero to me, repugnant. I can’t fix those things, but I will say there is a lot of discussion activity on my group, it is public, and I have it set so you can read it without a Facebook account. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1117842541937300

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Above is the actual cover page of my Facebook group. Note that it has 1,200 members. I have written a lot of stuff there, but for 2012, I going to make most things I write first show up here, and then appear on my Facebook page. This will help if this blog is all you read, but you will mis a lot of the discussion posted by other builders. My suggestion? Read both. You can do this and still hold that Mark Zuckerburg is an idiot.

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WW jr.

2021- A great year in Homebuilding

Builders,

It’s the first day of the year, and the very very first visitor to my hangar is old friend and DAR extraordinaire, Arnold Holmes. Let me tell you why this bodes very well for our branch of aviation.

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Arnold and myself in my yard today. We have been friends for 25 years. If you look at the famous photo of my Pietenpol at Brodhead 2000, Arnold is standing there with me, as we had just flown it 1,300 miles from Daytona Beach. Arnold also hosted Corvair Colleges #17 , #25 and #29. Today Arnold owns a large maintenance facility in Leesburg FL, and is a very active DAR, working under the name “AV-MECH LLC.”

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Arnold was on my airport to inspect a new homebuilt, (A Panther) and to issue its airworthiness cert. Yes, a new homebuilt on the first day of the year……..But wait for this……….Arnold certificated 97 aircraft last year, a record for him, and he is but one of several very active DAR’s operating in Florida. 2020 was actually a very good year in homebuilding, and most industry insiders believe that 2021 will be even better.

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This is something of a mental disconnect to many people who may like homebuilts but are not active builders; How when Oshkosh and every other major airshow was cancelled in 2020, does homebuilding have a record productive year? The question answers itself: Maybe the two are not directly related.

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Airshows are fun, but in the long arc of your time in aviation, they are really entertainment, they are not an achievement in your life, like the plane you are building in your shop. They are related, but if your personal balance favors entertainment, you will need to make a correction to get your plane to the Flightline. 2020 forced this correction on people by canceling all the entertainment. If airshows come back in 2021, you should know in advance what personal balance you will strike on how to invest your hours and dollars in aviation.

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wwjr

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New video interview

Builders,

Here is a link to a Youtube video, an interview done in my hanger by Bryan Walstrom of the Experimental Aircraft Channel. It was the kick off video of an entire week in his series. Notably, this video gathered more views than any other engine he covered, including Rotax. The Link:

Thanks,

WW.

Dave “The Bear” Vargesko; Gone at 65.

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I got a text this afternoon while I was out, I glanced at it and saw ‘Dave Vargesko’ in the ID and planned on calling when I stopped the truck. Reading the text was a shock, it was Dave’s wife Tammy texting that he had died of an apparent heart attack while working in his shop. He was 65, but if you knew him, his enthusiasm for everyday life made him seem much younger. Im typing this 8 hours later and it still seems unreal.

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Dave was known in the world of Corvairs by the moniker ‘Dave the Bear’. He was 6’3″ and near 300 pounds, but he was a very gentle giant. He was a core member of my six member “Hangar Gang” from 2001-2007. We often worked 80 hours a week back then, took countless trips together and packed a lot of good times and accomplishments into those years. If you are among the builders who met him, you understood that he was an uncommon creature, a relentlessly supportive and positive person.

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Dave was at my place for a few days in early September, the picture captures the mood. No matter how much time we were apart, we would pick up like this in one minute. I can say without the slightest hesitation that Dave was the kindest man I have ever met in my life. In 20 years of knowing him, I never heard him raise his voice or express anger about anyone. He had many things that he cared deeply about, family, friends, craftsmanship, our Country, but he was always positive. On occasions where I was ticked off at something, Dave by his presence and demeanor, demonstrated that anger was a waste of time and frequently a self embarrassment to the person who gives in to it.

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Dave did many things in aviation; He was a USAF KC-135 crewman (who had the misfortune of spending several winters at Kincheloe AFB, a frosty spot.) He was on the secret delivery team that ferried F-14s to the Shah of Iran. He worked for Piper aircraft at both Lakeland and Vero Beach plants; he was one of the first workers for Liberty Aerospace, and one of the last to leave; and he did an enormous amount of work on our friends 1941 DC-3, a plane Dave loved. He built mountain of Corvair components with us, and he is the builder of record for the Wagabond I have in my hangar. This is just hitting the highlights, he was always available for any aviation idea that promised some adventure and a dose of camaraderie.

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Easy example: 2004, three days before Oshkosh, we are in Florida, and Ed Fisher is in Ohio with a new ultralight design, but he is pessimistic about it’s less than absolute perfection and its appeal to new EAA people. Dave said to me ‘Lets kidnap him’ ; We drive to Ohio in Daves truck, stuff the ultralight biplane in a trailer, load Ed, and off to Airventure ……….. Where the plane is promptly awarded Grand Champion Light Plane, all rooted in Daves decision to always get involved rather than ever sit home.

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Above all else, Dave was a family man. Luckiest day of his life was the day he met Tammy. They were married for 39 years, she understood his need to create and roam around a bit, and she was relentlessly supportive of anything that Dave felt to be on his path in life, and for this he loved her dearly.

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It’s one am now, and I’m sipping a beer alone in my quiet house typing this. The words are not really flowing, because I know it’s a futile task. Typing words on a screen in an attempt to explain what was great about Dave just isn’t going to work. You can’t capture any of the color or style of who he was in real life. I just can’t find the words to describe what a treasure he was. So I’ll stop here and wander out to the porch and look out into the night and just think about how much richer my life is for the great fortune of having known him.

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William.

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Doc Mosher, aviator and human being of the first order, passes into our memories.

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Near the end of the day, Charlie Becker from EAA headquarters called me to say that Doc’s short obituary was in the Oshkosh paper. It was the kind of thoughtful gesture Charlie is known for. He knew Doc well also, and understood that caliber of human being had just slid away from us. Doc had passed on Monday. He was 95 years old.

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For as much as it was expected, the news is still staggering. If you were fortunate enough to know him, you would understand that you could go your whole life and feel really lucky if you called just one or two people like him ‘friend’.

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His time in aviation spanned more than 75 years; He personally counted aviators like Paul Schweitzer, Dee Howard, Ed Swearingen, Olive Ann Beech, Paul Poberezny Bob Whittier and dozens of others as close personal friends. He was in very rare standing that he held both the FAA Charles Taylor master mechanic Award and the FAA master pilot award. You have to have a spotless 50 year record as a mechanic and pilot just to have your application considered by the FAA.

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If you own a copy of my Corvair manual, the forward in it was written by Doc. Over the years we worked on a lot of different writing and research projects, the best known being the long Pietenpol weight and balance series which later became the basis of my book on the topic. Doc improved my written work, and was the source of a lot of wisdom; He once said that you could tell a good writer by what he chose to leave out of stories rather than what he chose to put in them.

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If you knew Doc and his wife Dee as the editors of the Brodhead Pietenpol Association newsletter during its golden 7 year run, you are only looking at a small part of one of the later chapters in Doc’s life in aviation. I knew him as a very close friend and mentor for more than 20 years, and in all that time he didn’t repeat many stories. One evening each were the stories of being the first person to fly under the St. Louis arch and being the first person on the scene when Rolly Cole died in 1964.

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He never flew for an airline, but he amassed tens of thousands of hours of far more interesting flying. His long career as a corporate pilot and a demo pilot for Howard 500’s and Jet Commanders brought him to many more interesting places. He loved sailplanes, because Elmira NY was his home town. He held altitude records in 1-26’s and flew most of the classic light planes you have ever heard of.

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He had a very full life outside aviation; In his early years he knew many of the greats in Jazz. In his office he had many pictures of NYC Jazz clubs in the 1950s, and he was close friends with men like Thelonious Monk; He was James Browns corporate pilot in the 1960s, he knew Cesar Chavez well. The bar he and Dee had in Colorado made them tight with Hunter S. Thompson. There was no evening spent with Doc that you didn’t come away with the sense that his integrity, skill and charm had opened many doors and made countless lasting connections in life.

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His knowledge of all things aviation was exceeded by his understanding of people; he was a great humanitarian, he judged no other person unless they inflicted harm on others. He understood that people are flawed, but always knew then it was fair, possible and perhaps in their interest that you demand more out of them.

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He was incredibly well read, and he had a photographic memory. He like to study things in very close detail, to really understand the the factors in an issue. An easy example: I have never encountered anyone, not even the Notre Dame Phd trained Theology department chair I studied under, who was better read on all major religions, including sects; Doc knew virtually all facets of Christianity and 6 or 7 other major faiths. There was little he couldn’t tell you about the the lives of Luther and Aquinas, he also knew the Bhagavad Gita and the Koran, as well as the beliefs of Sikhs and Buddhists. He spent decades studying the world faiths to better understand history and people, the depth of his knowledge was more astounding when you learned that he was an absolute Atheist.

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He had a very easy going external manner, but could quietly take the measure of most people in a few minutes. He could act in with a clear head in a crisis or shocking moment; at the 2004 SAA Urbana fly-in man was killed taking off in a homebuilt. His wife had started a 6 hour drive home 30 minutes before. It was Doc who told the 30 people on hand to “Put your damn phones away” and not tell anyone off the field there had been an accident, he was the only person who instantly understood that there was a woman who still had 5 hours to drive home, and if no one called anyone, she would likely make it all they way back to family before her phone rang and she found out she was a widow.

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Its near midnight now, and If I made a pot of coffee I could still be typing things about Doc when the sun comes up tomorrow, but instead I’m going to close this and go get a beer out of the fridge and sit alone on my front porch and stare into the night and think about how fortunate I was to know Doc. I have a life rich with good friends, but none of them would be offended if I say that Doc’s absence is a wound in the heart that no one else can bandage. He was one of a kind, and now he is gone.

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Blue skies and tailwinds Doc, my life was far richer for the great fortune of having known you. You brightened the lives of nearly everyone you encountered, a rare claim indeed.

William

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Barnwell Corvair College postponed

Builders:

Evaluating it together, local host Don Harper, Organizer/RN Ken Pavlou, and myself have unanimously concluded that we are going to postpone the Barnwell November College #48, until Spring 2021.

We have made this decision based on three factors:

To get the most accomplished at a College, builders have to work in close proximity to myself and others, making social distancing not possible. People can be careful for a few hours, but the long hours we operate, and the fact we all dine together would lead even well intentioned builders to compromise their guard. It would be irresponsible to host an event with 105 people present under these circumstances.

Second, the State laws affecting the event are changing weekly. The hangar we use at Barnwell is a publicly owned building, and what we are doing is considered an indoor event. I may not like nor fully understand all the laws about Covid, but my Father taught us a ‘Law Abiding’ person follows all laws, not just the ones they are in favor of. The additional complication here is more than two dozen states require anyone who travels to SC to quarantine themselves for two weeks upon return. A great number of builders, Including Ken, would not be able to attend the College for this reason.

Third, A focal point of the college is to celebrate the life of P.F Beck in the presence of his family and friends. (https://flycorvair.net/2019/08/29/p-f-beck-an-extraordinary-life-closes-8-28-19/) . It would diminish this part of the event if attendance was limited by travel restrictions or builders who have health concerns or care for vulnerable people. Holding a full sized event in the spring will allow a respectful event to properly honor the man who defined the hospitality standards of Corvair Colleges, and flew more than 300 people in his Corvair Powered Pietenpol.


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Above, the second to last engine at the previous Barnwell, Lou Casella’s Pietenpol engine.

If you signed up for College #48:

You will get a refund through PayPal this week. We considered offering the option to ‘roll over’ the registration, but the fact it will be in a different fiscal year precludes this. Everyone who signed up for the November college will be given advanced notice and priority when we get the date and new registration up for the new #48 dates.

For builders who were counting on getting a supervised assembly and test run in for planes that will be headed to the flight line in the spring, we will have one and two person build weekends available at my hangar in Florida over the next few months.

I will put out more information over the next 10 days. We are sending this by email to all 90 builders who registered, and posting it on social media. Thank you in advance for being understanding about this. Anyone with a specific question can ask it in the comments here of call me.

William Wynne

904-806-8143.

Next Event: Zenith Homecoming, Sept. 18th and 19th, Mexico MO.

Builders: 

This coming Friday and Saturday is the annual Zenith Aircraft Company Homecoming. It is one of very few public aviation events being held this year. I will be there, meeting builders, for my 16th consecutive year.  I spoke with Sebastien Heintz last week, and he said that he expects a slightly larger that average group of homebuilders to be present, and he expects a very good event. 

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Above, Val Westedt’s Zenith 650 tail, her plane was voted best in class when it publicly debuted at a Zenith Homecoming.

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Although the event is focused on Zenith Aircraft, It is important to understand that Zenith welcomes all homebuilders to their events, not just their customers.  If you are a Corvair guy, but currently building a different design, know that Sebastien and his crew will whole-heartedly welcome you to their event.  This pro-homebuilding, without reservations, it one of the things that sets Zenith apart from other companies, and part of the reason why they are well liked and respected in our industry. 

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Above, Dave Gardea’s  CH-650, pictured at the 25th Zenith Homecoming several years ago. The plane now has more than 500 hours on it. 

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I am bringing display engines, parts for sale, motor mounts, manuals and everything else I can stuff into the trailer.  I’m delivering 3 engines to builders, so there will be plenty of space for me to take core parts back to both my shop, and to Sport Performance Aviation. If you have parts to get your project in gear, by all means bring them, and I will transport them back to Florida and get them into production. 

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The event is well attended, but it isn’t a mad house like Oshkosh. You can park within a one minute walk from the action, there is free camping, tech seminars and other builders to meet, tours of Zenith etc.  If you have parts you would like me to inspect, bring them, We will have plenty of time for ‘parking lot tours’.  I’m traveling 1,100 miles in truck that was built during the Cold War to be there, I serious about having a product and fun trip, and I look forward meeting as many of you as possible.  The event is just the right casual atmosphere to meet other builders, get questions covered, and reenergize your project. 

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Read more here: http://www.zenith.aero/events/29th-annual-zenith-aircraft-homecoming-and-fly-in,  Make a plan, I will see you there. 

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Thank you, WW. 

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A Zenith Cruiser Engine is Born

Builders; 

Pictured below is the first start of a brand new, no expense spared, 3.0L Corvair engine destined to power a Zenith Cruiser in Texas. 

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.Here is the video: https://youtu.be/0Q_PvskZdLI

Above, Greg Crouchley, the engine builder, in my front yard at the airport this morning. He is in the white shirt. Next to him is Ken Pavlou, 800 hour Corvair/Zenith 601XL pilot. Greg and Ken are old friends, if you have been around my Oshkosh tent after hours, you have likely seen their version of tough love friendship, which involves Italian vs Greek pride jokes, immodest drinking and great story telling. Corvairs are not new to Greg, eight years ago he built a 3.0L engine for his Waiex.  Today he is a Zenith guy, in the home stretch of his Cruiser.  He has built a number of planes, previous ones were powered with  Jaibaru and Continental engines.  He can tell you the merits of each, but for the last decade, he has been a Corvair guy.

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The new engine came to life in 2 seconds of cranking. It put down a perfect break in run, and after just 30 minutes on my run stand, the cam was broken in, and it had excellent compression on all cylinders. He had one tiny oil leak, that turned out to be an oil fitting that needed another 1/2 turn.  The engine is a clone of his Waiex engine, a first class power plant built around an SPA billet crank.  Nearly every single part in this engine, including the crank, is the product of American craftsmen.  This is not an imported engine. Every person should be proud of the work of the skilled craftsmen of his homeland, and the Americans who buy products from me can be assured they are supporting good manufacturing jobs here. 

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We will have a video on the break in run shortly. 

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William