Notes on Punctuation and Grammar

Update: The builder who sent the note that sparked this story sent along another that better explained his thoughts, and I admire him for doing so. It is just below. I want builders reading the story to understand that it isn’t about spelling, the central point is that we all have things that cause us to loose focus on available learning. In Dave’s case he pointed out my spelling and grammar is a distraction; It is no different than myself not learning from Chandler Titus because he didn’t acknowledge me. The point I want everyone to know is that aviation doesn’t afford the luxury of allowing any distraction, big, small, personal or public, from getting between you and what you need to know.-ww.

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  William: I meant to compliment you on a daily offering that was not only insightful, but grammatically clean—positive reinforcement works better than criticism. I appreciate your quest for mechanical perfection, which results in excellence and progress. Keep writing. I learned something. Dave N475dg

Builders,

The letter below showed up in the comments section of my story about making 2015 your year in aviation. It was not a private email, the sender was  saying it to all readers:

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Dave G.

Congratulations! No grammatical errors, misspellings, or misuse of apostrophes. Seriously, this makes it easier for some of us to take seriously. Dave

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To Dave and all the other people who don’t take what I write seriously because it has spelling and punctuation errors:

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I began to read and write very young, before I was four. I started school more than a year early, and was always very bright. When I was a 10 years old and we were living in Thailand, it was a very safe place and I was out riding my bicycle many miles from home. On an empty country road I was hit by a driver in a car who left me for dead. Several people saw this, but there were strong spiritual, cultural and legal reasons why they did not offer any assistance.

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I awoke in the ditch after something like an hour. I found my way home, under the illusion that several years had past. I was in the 5th field hospital on Sukumvit road for a week, beside soldiers fresh out of Vietnam. There was a long year of tests and nightmares, not a lot of fun for a kid.

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The end result is that I have a particular type of brain injury, and I have never been able to spell nor see grammatical errors since, and I can only read at the same pace I can speak. In written text, even common words like ‘went’ look correctly spelled to me as booth ‘went’ and whent’ before spell check, my only ability to differentiate them was by pronouncing them at a snails pace. Looking at something I wrote at 4 am, I have no ability to tell if the spell check was on or off, and it doesn’t work well for me.

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In conversation with me you would never suspect anything like this, but that is because conversation is 100% phonetic, and this is the pathway in my brain that gets all the work. In the last 42 years, the phonetic elements have been worked to the point that I have a phenomenal memory for spoken conversation, and I can retrieve quotes from books I read a decade ago, because when I read them, I did so slowly, pronouncing everything to make it phonetic instead of visual.  None of the last 3 trucks I have owned have had a radio. I don’t need it. driving down the road late at night, I can remember note for note any song I have ever heard a few times.

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Being practical, I have a lot of things to share about airplane building, and the choices are to burden my wife with doing this for all the material I share, or not writing it.  If you like the direct honesty of the tone, I will tell you that it comes out at 4am, and if it is fed through the editing process, I am given a few hours to consider how some people will take it wrong, and invariably, it gets diluted or deleted, because when I think about our national obsession with criticizing the work of others or taking offense at things, I often never send things because when you are speaking of subjects like people you loved who’s life ended at 23, it is unpleasant have to consider people who critique it for bad grammar.

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A bigger point, that directly relates to me sharing what I know about the serious subject of building your plane. I have pointed out many times, that a builder has a moral obligation to his passengers to gather proven information on how to build the best plane he can, from All sources, not just ones he finds pleasant. The very honest story about Chandler Titus below is directly written on this subject. If it has grammatical errors, I don’t want to hear about it.

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 Although I have a lot to share, Some people are not going to take it seriously because it doesn’t meet his grammatical standards. This is nothing new to me. Last year, I directly told a guy, in person, not to do something, and 50 minutes later he tried it, and wrecked the plane. His friend offered the observation “If you had short hair, he would have listened, but he wanted to prove that he didn’t listen to people he perceived as hippies.”

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Many people think that my contribution to what they might know about planes is somehow limited to how to bolt a particular engine together. In reality, I could teach any 12 year old how to torque rod bolts. Learning concepts like how it is your moral obligation to learn from people, even ones who are unpleasant, have long hair and don’t spell correctly, does far more to reduce your risk and that of your passengers than anything I am going to show you about manipulating wrenches.

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Chandler Titus, 25 missions in a B-17 Ball turret, Pilot in the Berlin Airlift, worked at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for more than 50 years. Read the story to understand that very limited amounts of your potential knowledge will come in ‘nice’ packages.

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ERAU – models of integrity #2

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“Maybe half the stuff I know about planes comes from people I would never have chosen as a friend. I am fully aware there are many good reasons to dislike me. Do not set your goal on being friends with me, set it on learning everything I can teach you. That exchange in itself is a better basis for friendship than initially ‘liking’ someone. Trust me, on my worst day, I could run the White House protocol and etiquette department compared to Mr. Titus. I don’t know what he knew, but I am 50 times the people person he was. If I am not your kind of person, don’t let it stop you from learning what I have to share.”

Friendly reminder on manual upgrades

Builders,

A while back we asked anyone who wished to upgrade to the new manual to send in their address. We sent out a notice of the reduced price of manual for upgrades, and then sent out a large number of manuals, to all the addresses we received.

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We understand when things fall through the cracks every now and then, but it has caught my attention that nearly 50% of the builders we sent the manual to did not get around to returning the registration page nor the payment. If you are one of the builders who didn’t have a chance to take care of this, I thank you in advance for doing so now. -ww,

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If you have any questions, you can send a direct email to me at: WilliamTCA@aol.com

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Blast from the Past, Oshkosh 2003:

Gentleman aviator Marv Hoppenworth with William Wynne.

“One happy meeting that sums up the whole experience was recognizing and meeting Jay’s Hoppenworth’s father, Marv . At Brodhead, Jay had shared pictures and stories of his parents, who had met and gone flying in an L-4 on one of their first dates. A few days after Brodhead, we met the man himself at Oshkosh. Marv is truly old school EAA, and it was an honor and pleasure to meet the father who was so obviously his son’s hero.”

 

Terry Hand’s story “Our Own Honor Flight”

Builders,

Below is a link to a family story written by Pietenpol builder Terry Hand. It is an account of taking his father, a US Navy Seabee in WWII, to see the memorial in Washington on the occasion of his fathers 88th birthday. I have read the story several times and find it moving, and I asked Terry if we could share it with Corvair builders.

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Every week I have people forward me stories from anonymous sources about servicemen they never met nor heard of before. The stories are often, neat, tidy and contain an unambiguous uplifting moral message. Some of these stories evoke Vietnam infantryman Tim O’Brien’s quote about war stories.

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Conversely, Terry story, about his own father, draws more questions than it answers. It mirrors the experience of many son’s of such men, sons who found their fathers very reluctant to say much of anything about what they had seen and done in their youth. Buy a mixture of luck and persistence, Terry discovers a key that unlocks some insight to his Father’s experiences. Well worth a careful read.

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The link to the story: After clicking on it, also click on the “download”

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https://app.box.com/s/zlbu9bfe4k9l26fur359

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Above, Terry Hand with his steel tube Pietenpol at CC#24 in Barnwell, SC.

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Terry also has a wicked sense of humor, ‘refined’ by years in the Marine Corps. Above he is intentionally provoking an inter-service rivalry by wearing the “Hat of Power” normally reserved just for CC#22,28,32 host Kevin Purtee. This is a major protocol violation. The photo is from late at night, Barnwell College #31. Terry and fellow Marine Andy Shorter were joking around saying things like “The Marines have been sent in Force…Two….why so many?” We expect this stuff on the day before the birthday of the Corps (Nov. 10).

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Terry also wrote a very well received guest editorial here. While he is an airline guy today, flying heavy stuff globally, he also spent a significant amount of time instructing in T-34s at Pensacola. The insight in the editorial comes from lessons learned as an instructor at “The birthplace of Naval Aviation.”

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Link to the editorial:

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Guest Editorial, Pietenpol builder Terry Hand.

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Here is a sample of the mail on Terry Hand’s Editorial:

Zenith 601XL builder and flyer Phil Maxson writes:

“This is an excellent article. Each of these points resonated with me, but I’m particularly struck by number 5. I am beginning my 24th year with Mars, Inc, a mult-national food company. We are very big on the Freedom principle, and in our case, it is called “Freedom within a framework.” In a company of 70,000 associates it is not possible for everyone to have their own “do whatever you like” form of freedom, but each one of us is obligated to exercise our own talents and skills within our purview. We have a framework that includes five principles: Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and the one I’m emphasizing here: Freedom.”

Builder Matt Lockwood writes:

“Terry- Thanks for this. Especially point #1. There is a certain discipline that comes with making yourself slow down and consider the ramifications of your decisions…i.e fish tank tubing for fuel lines and/or routing it through the cockpit. Some of the information that is out there on the internet doesn’t consider the ramifications, nor do these anonymous advisors out there have to suffer the consequences of you taking their advice. Everyone, please be careful. Thanks again to you and to WW. P.S. I thought ‘NATOPS’ stood for ‘Navy’s Attempt To Operate Planes Safely’Matt Lockwood, VT-3 1997-1998″

Builder Jerry Mcferron writes:

“Footnotes and warnings are often written in blood. Don’t add yours.”

“In the early 60s my Dad was a Navy flight instructor at Pensacola teaching in T-34s. Earlier, in 1958, Dad was the co-pilot in a helicopter that crashed and he was severely burned. He was the only survivor of the four crew members. A few years ago I received an e-mail from a lady looking for my Dad. Her Dad was the pilot of the helicopter. She had not yet been born at the time of the crash, so she had never known her Dad. If the fates of our fathers had been reversed, I would not be here. The investigation into the crash resulted in changes to the procedures for flying helicopters. Dad is now 76 and passed his physical a few weeks ago. He is still teaching people how to fly. When Dad calls me and says “I got to go flying today”, it makes my day.-Jerry”

Builder Dan Branstrom:

“Amen, and Semper Fi.”

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On the subject of ‘war stories’, infantryman Tim O’Brien, wrote in his book The Things They Carried:

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“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil. ”

Looking for Volmer VJ-22 plans

Note: I wrote the post below and was contacted by Ken Harris of Texas, who had a new unused set of Volmer  plans which I bought from him. Ken also asked that I mention he also has an unused set of Davis DA-2 plans for sale, if anyone is interested, contact me, I will share Ken’s contact info. -ww

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Builders,

I am looking for a set of Volmer plans to buy. I am not going to build the plane, I just would like to study the relationship between the CG range of the wing, the location of the step on the hull and the amount of dead rise at different stations.

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There are two different sources for plans on the net, and I can’t tell which one is the real source, or if both are, or maybe neither, thus this request. If any builder out there has a set of actual plans I could buy, please drop me an e-mail at WilliamTCA@aol.com

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Claude Delebruere ‘s Corvair powered Volmer in a photo taken about 10 years ago.

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Mail Sack: Builder Questions #2 Panther Engine

Builders,

Here is the second of a new series, where I take actual letters from builders and answer the questions here, where the answers can serve many builders. Because the writers sent in the questions as private email, I have trimmed their name off the email to respect their privacy. Their questions are in blue, I put the answer in black. You can click on the colored links in the answers to read stories with longer explanations.

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Mr. Wynne,

I have on order from SPA a full LSA Panther kit.  I don’t have an engine.  To
save you some time I will list my current questions and then write my general
palaver. What are the details of your next Corvair College in MO?  Cost?  What must I
bring?  Is a core needed or can I buy it from you?

CC#30 will be in September in Mexico MO, at the Zenith Factory. The cost will be about $79, this will cover food and drinks for 3 days. The learning is free. We will have the registration page up in another week or so. You don’t have to bring anything, you can just come and observe. If you wish to assemble an engine, there is much prep work you must do in advance, the task is too big to just start with a greasy core on day one and finish with an engine on day 3. However, you can fully assemble an engine and run it from a collection of prepped parts, and have a good understanding of that engine, in three days. The best spot to learn a lot more about colleges in general is here: Corvair College reference page

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What do you think of the Aeroinjector?  I intend to fly Sportsman and possibly
Intermediate IAC aerobatics.

There have been thousands of hours flown on Corvairs with Aerocarbs, the red flat side predecessor to the Aeroinjector. There are reasons why they have their fans, but It is not a carb I would choose for a Corvair, and I would never run one in a fuel system with a pump. I know it can be done, but that doesn’t mean I would choose to. To learn more about carbs look at: Carburetor Reference page. Dan’s panther runs an MA3-SPA and he performs a lot of aerobatics with it. If you wanted to move up one level, look at a Rotec carb or an Ellison EFS-3A. The Ellison is now out of production. (After 30 years and thousands of carbs, Ben Elison perhaps has gotten a little tired of homebuilders who don’t read instruction and ‘experts’ on his products who have never used one) You have to speak with Dan, but his original plan was to use a precision mechanical injector for advanced work. see a picture below and read more at this link:Mechanical Fuel Injection Testing.

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I have been reading your websites.  You have a wealth of information and, you
obviously, have a masterful level of skill and knowledge.  You and Dan give a
lot of creditability to using a Corvair engine.

Thank you. I remind people if you do something for 25 years, you have a good opportunity to become very good at it, especially if the job involves teaching it to other people.

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My personal experience comes from a 1/3 ownership of a Cessna 172 and a Bellanca
Citabria 7KCAB.  Both had Lycoming O-320 engines.  Of course, the Citabria was
fuel injected.  Both engines ran without problem given regular oil changes,
compression checks, and general TLC from all 3 owners.  That gives me a base of
confidence in Lycoming engines.  So an obvious choice, for me, in an LSA
aircraft for aerobatic use would be a Lycoming IO-233.  The problem is that
Lycoming is not very forthcoming with information about this engine.  Also, the
nearest that I can tell is that a new engine would cost me over $30,000.  That
gives me the impression that Lycoming doesn’t want to service the LSA Homebuilt
market.

I have seen a 233, and it is impressive. It is not as light as the promoters suggest, but that is true of most engines and airframes in experimental aviation. ( A standard 10% error is what I call CBW- calibrated brochure weight, which is the actual weight multiplied by .9 for marketing purposes) You are correct, Lycoming, and continental in particular, don’t go out of their way to serve homebuilders. They certainly are not going to hold a free ‘Continental College’ any time soon.

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What are my other choices?  Rotax?  No!  I’ve been flying planes that cruise at
2400 rpm.  Reduction for prop rotation or not, the high rpm would never let me
feel comfortable.  UL, short TBO and too expensive.  How about Continental?
Some possibilities here.  An O-200 with and Aeroinjector is a possibility with
less power and high cost.  Then there is the Jabiru 3300.  A real possibility.
Better cost than a Continental, but is it as reliable?  I don’t know.

There are a lot of choices, and you sound like you have looked at most of them. Your previous flight and aircraft ownership background is actually serving to inform and fine tune your choices. Builders just getting started with little or no personal reference have a hard time navigating this selection because magazines and other pilots don’t offer much valid input. Reading our site gives a good look at our perspectives and philosophy, which I hold to be more important that exact weight or cost.

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I like the idea of an engine that I have built myself.  I’m sure that I can do
the job.  Earlier in my life I rebuilt a slant-6 Dodge Dart engine that had been
oil starved and experience cam shaft bearings piggybacking.  I follow directions
very well when I have confidence in my sources.

You sound like our kind of guy. Because I teach this stuff instead of just selling a product in a box, I am particularly good at directions. I find it very funny that if you look at any modern product in a store, the guy who wrote the directions inside was obviously the low man on the totem pole. Every other person involved, marketing, packaging, legal, etc, got more of the budget to work with. Businesses try that in experimental aviation all the time, and it never works. Shiny wrapping paper often = Empty box.

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Although I have never been a fan of the Corvair car,  The engine is looking very
attractive to me.  All of the flying video of the Panther (I’ve watched it all
more than once) allows me to know that 120hp is all that I need.  My greatest
uneasiness is with fuel supply.  Everything I read about the Panther engine
tells me that fuel starvation during basic aerobatics is not a serious problem.
I don’t think that I will know for sure until I try.

If you see the plane fly in person, you will be even more impressed than watching it on film. It captures the eye and holds it. The level of flight Dan gets from a standard fuel system is hardly to be believed. A simple change to a Rotec or Ellison and a flop tube would go even further.

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At this point, I think that the Corvair 3000cc with all of Dan’s tricks is my
best choice.  Of course, I haven’t received any of the airframe kits yet so time
is still fluid.  The idea of building an engine in September is very attractive.

FYI: I live in Orange County California and have building space in the EAA
hanger in Chino.  A road trip to Mexico, MO may be very enjoyable if I were to
return home with a working engine for my Panther.

Our Good friend Steve Glover runs NVaero.com at the Chino airport. The next Corvair College we hold in CA, likely in 2015 will be at his place. However, I would suggest Mexico MO because we bring several thousand pounds of parts and tools to Eastern Colleges, where as we are limited in resources on west coast colleges. If you want to drive back with an engine, we need to get started in a few weeks with a plan that does a little prep work every week: Getting Started Reference page

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Thank you for your consideration,

You are welcome.

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Further reading:

Corvair power for Panther and Sonex reference page

3,000 vs 3,100 cc Corvair engines.

Why Not the Panther engine?

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Above, a rear view of the engine. Behind the harmonic balancer is an alternator driven off the crank through a flexible coupler. It is a  project that Dan and I worked on, that he now sells as a rear alternator kit, P/N 2950.  It retains the balancer and cannot put bending loads on the crank. I have never been a fan of belts on the back of the engine, but this system does not use one. The alternator is the same Yanmar unit we traditional use on the front of the engine.

The intake is a custom stainless part made in our fixture so that it mates with our traditional welded on head pipes. On the bottom of the intake is the Precision mechanical fuel injection unit. Dan has designed the Panther to have tremendous airframe strength. The test wing took more than 9Gs at gross weight in a sandbag test conducted after Sun N Fun. Although Dan designed the plane to be easy to fly, it is capable of impressive aerobatics.

Mail Sack: Builder Questions, #1 RV-9?

Builders,

Here is the first of a new series, where I take actual letters from builders and answer the questions here, where the answers can serve many builders. Because the writers sent in the questions as private email, I have trimmed their name off the email to respect their privacy. Their questions are in blue, I put the answer in black. You can click on the colored links in the answers to read stories with longer explanations.

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William,

Would you please answer some questions for me?

1. I have a Corvair conversion manual, #7856 that I purchased when I met you at the Arlington Washington airshow probably 6 years or more ago. It is a 2006 version. Is that still the most current version of the manual?

The manual has had many small updates since then, but if you read this site and keep up with the comments here, you do not need a new manual. Since 2006 we have written a very popular flight ops manual that you should consider.

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2. I have found 2 engines – an RB and a YN. From your manual it appears that I could use everything minus the heads from the RB engine and the heads from the YN – if I bought both of them. Is this true or would you recommend waiting for a better engine?

The RB is a 140 HP manual transmission engine. If the crank does not need to be reground, you can magnaflux it and use it as it with a Dan Gen I bearing. Read this story: Getting Started in 2013, Part #5, ‘Allan Able’ short block. If the YN engine is a 1964 (it could be an un-useable 61-63) The heads will bolt on and work.

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3. Would I have to re-nitride the crank from the RB engine or just do a magnaflux inspection?

See above.

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4. In your manual and web pages you say that an engine should cost no more than $150 to $200. Is that still what most used engines are going for?

$250 to $300 is more common these days but plenty of guys who run adds on craigslist looking for engines pay less.

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5. Has anyone used a Corvair engine in an RV-9 or -9A?

The only model RV that has flown on a Corvair was a -3. The guy had it on there and flew it for several years, but had issues. He had a turbo, injected 3,100, not really what I would call simple nor representative of how we suggest people do things. For all this work, it was not significantly faster than Dan’s 3,000 cc Panther prototype, which is totally reliable. You can’t really blame the engine for not being what some people wanted.

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6. If not – why not? I think a 120 hp Corvair engine with the Weseman billet crank is a perfect fit for the RV-9. Even with all of the successful CH650/Corvair installations, I think the RV-9 is a better airplane than the Zenith, even though the Corvair engine would have to be moved ~7″ forward in the RV-9 to stay away from the aft CG limit.

Some people like Van’s products, others like Zeniths. You should build the one you like. I am sure the combination would work, but just about every RV-9 I have seen, including the one that belongs to my next door neighbor, has 150 or more HP.  RV-9 would probably be faster, but the Zenith would get off faster and might have a better climb rate.  It will take 1/2 the time to build a Zenith 650.  I have spent a fair chunk of time in person with both Chris Heintz and Richard Vangrunsven, and I will say that Heintz’s personal philosophy on individual choice appeals to me more. I have many friends with RV’s but I occasionally get tired of the element of the RV-fan club that attacks anyone who proposes something different, like putting a Corvair in a -9. Those people seem to forget that the RV-1 was a modified Ray Stitts design, and if Stitts had the same attitude, there would be no such thing as an RV-anything.  The guy who runs the Van’s Airforce website has made some very negative comments about freedom of choice in flying and turning people into the FAA. In 11 years of working with the Heintz family, I have never found an element like that. I don’t need everyone to love nor understand what I am doing, but it is tiring if the official attitude toward ‘experimental’ is negative.

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7. Could you design and fabricate an engine mount for a Corvair/RV9 installation?

Yes. It would be easier to start with a an existing RV-9 mount to get the gear leg sockets already done. If you would like to see the geometry, it would be nearly identical to this one we built for the Wittman Buttercup:( http://www.flycorvair.com/hangar1209.html )  there are several photos at that website. See picture below.

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8. When will you hold the next Corvair College on the West Coast?

We are giving a lot of thought to having one in Chino, but I hope to have a California tour before the end of the year, even if we can’t organize a full blown college until 2015. -ww.

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From 2009 “ Above, a motor mount for our Wittman Buttercup project. It is an intensely complicated Mount because it incorporates Wittman’s tapered rod landing gear sockets (the Buttercup actually uses RV-6 landing gear legs). I spoke on the phone with Earl Luce, the plans provider. He gave me all the operational data and weight and balance info for his O-200 powered plane, which I mathematically worked out to our own installation. The Mount resembles the O-300 mount for a Tailwind.  After completely welding it, I took it to our local powdercoater, and had it done in U.S. Navy gray. It is the 40th different Corvair Motor Mount Design that I have built.”

 

Letter of the Day: Wooden Pusher aircraft

Builders:

The letter below comes from Art Blake.  It is referencing a comment that I made in the story: Steel tube fuselages, “Safe” planes and 250mph accidents. Art has obviously extensively studied the Corvair option, and after his letter, I will clarify my point on Wooden pusher aircraft. I print the letter here because Art sent it in as a public comment, and I think his enthusiasm for building comes right through. Words many of us can relate to.

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“Dear Mr. Wynne,
I am totally psyched. I have not been this excited since my youngest son was born.
The kids are settling into happy lives and are contributing to the Common Good. My wife is comfortably situated, and last fall I made up my mind- it is time for me to break these surly bonds, build an actual aircraft, and FLY !!
I have the requisite experience: tree houses, go kart, R/C planes, and I even set the timing on my old Chevy Vega, using a light !
After much agonizing and searching and consideration, I decided on my plane, and I decided to power it with a rebuild Corvair engine. Last week for my birthday, I got my Corvair motor and my plans are on the way. I’m 1/2 way through ‘Stick and Rudder, joined EAA, and have studied lots of the building techniques tapes. The plans for my Pride and Joy are on their way! I can’t wait to get started……

And now, now, I read that you would not fly in a wood frame aircraft with a pusher engine.

I’m flummoxed, astounded, flabbergasted, crushed.
I’m speechless, horrified, bothered and bewildered.

The craft I chose, and am so psyched to build and fly, is a Volmer V-J 22, “Sportsman” – yes, A WOOD FRAME AIRCRAFT WITH A PUSHER ENGINE !.
From your blogs, I have learned that you are not someone to give a gratuitous ‘pat on the head’ to someone who is about to so something you can not condone, but, can you throw me a bone, man?
Will I be building a deathtrap? Do I have to decide between (1) building The Flaming Comet as planned, or (2) riveting together a Belite, strapping on a 1/2 VW, and flying whining circles around the airstrip, like some angry hornet, until either the motor falls off, or I fly it into the trees, just to break the monotony?
I suspect you do not say things lightly, and I need to know – is this list of ‘safety preferences’ based on actual statistics, or is it a private opinion, a Gestalt, or the result of some bad experience(s) for you?
Help me out, I dyin’ here.
-Art Blake”

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Art,

I thought your letter was very funny, you are a good writer. When I wrote the comment about wooden pushers, I was specifically thinking of a Rutan Vari-Viggen, (which incidentally, actually flew with a Corvair for one builder in the 1980s) I admire Rutan, but not for that design.  You are quite correct that some opinions are formed from negative experience rather than pure statistics. At the very bottom is an excerpt of something I wrote about a disturbing day.

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Although the stall speed of a Vari-Viggen is listed as 48 mph, compare all the specifications on it’s Wikipedia page to those of a Van’s RV-4, another O-320 powered two seat plane. Although not perfect, the RV-4 probably has a much better statistical record than the 20 vari-viggens that flew. I have experienced friends who have built and flown Rutan designs (Arnold Holmes) and friends who chose not to (Dan Weseman).  I consider both of them very good at risk management, but they use their planes differently also.

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My comments don’t directly apply to the VJ-22, and I will tell you that I have many times considered building one. The low landing speed mitigates a lot of the wooden construction issues, but I would still put a plastic tank in it or a fuel cell, and I would carefully consider what type of terrain I overflew at low altitude. I do this with all aircraft, but my factors would be adjusted with a VJ-22.  Of course, it would be a very low risk in an engine out if you were over water. As the story stated, it is all about making your own decisions.

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The Corvair/VJ-22 combination has been done before. Below is a picture from our website of a plane built by Claude Delebruere, of Newport, Vermont. He flew it about 100 hours on a Corvair, and later went to a bigger engine. The link below the plane leads to other photos and a description. You can find obscure stuff like this on our main website by using the search box at the bottom of the main page:

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http://www.flycorvair.com/delabruere.html.

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Below, an excerpt from our risk management story: Risk Management, Wrong airframe, Wrong experience level. I am writing about a Sunday morning at an SAA fly-in in Champaign-Urbana Ill. The pilot who wisely stopped anyone from calling the man’s wife was our friend Doc Mosher. I was going to ask him how, in the chaos of the moment, he kept a clear line of thought like that, but later reflected that after 20,000 hours and five decades of flying, this was not the first accident Doc had seen.

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“If anyone wants to write me debating that pusher aircraft with composite or wood fuselages are not good test planes, please read the Vari-Viggen/O-320 accident report below first. I was on hand for the crash 10 years ago. I had spent the previous day admiring the man’s craftsmanship and personal style. He was a stand out in a group of 1,000 people at Frasca. The soy bean field he had a forced landing in was big and flat enough that I am pretty sure I could have landed at DC-3 in it. His fuselage did not protect him. It had poured rain the day before and it was later thought he had water in the fuel. With many planes this would have been an non-accident, but the man’s airframe choice did not work for him on that day. His wife had driven there and previously left for a 6 hour trip home. Some one was going to call her, but a pilot with 50+ years of experience stopped them so the woman could get all the way home and back to family before finding out she was a widow.”

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief2.aspx?ev_id=20020617X00903&ntsbno=CHI02LA166&akey=1

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