Shop Class as Soulcraft – a book to read

Builders,

Every year I have the same new years resolution: Read 50 books. Most years I get pretty close. The time comes from watching almost no tv during the year. It is odd that I can tell you who won the World Series and Super bowl every year in the 1970s, but I can’t tell you who won, or even played, last year. The up side of the trade off is having read several hundred books in the last 20 years. I was just finishing 2014 book #1, Seth Rosenfeld’s ‘Subversives‘, when my neighbor Buzz dropped off a book with two simple commands: “You must read this, and you must give it back” He explained the second one by saying he intended to re-read it again because it is a very rich text.

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The title jogged my memory, someone had mentioned this in a letter. In a break after dinner I sat down to read the introduction and ended up fascinated, reading the first 40 pages. I probably would have read the whole thing, but this is a very powerful essay, filled with contemplative thought, and it deserves a very engaged read.

I purposely select a number of books each year which I am inclined to not agree with the authors perspective. It is an exercise in absorbing the presented case without making up your mind about it until it is concluded, just as we are supposed to do on a jury. But in this case, I am going to jump the gun and tell you this is one of the best books I have read in 20 years.

Some writers captivate me quickly. I think is has to do with how the subject relates to periods in your life; Tim O’Brien writing ‘The things they carried,’  taking you on a guided tour of the ugliest acts and making you see the simple humanity that still lives there, spoke to things in my 20s. Junot Diaz laying bare personal mistakes too easy to relate to in ‘This is how you lose her’ brought up things from my 30s I had deceived myself into believing were forgotten.

Crawford’s  work catches me the same way, but this book is an essay on the personal value of being able to do something tangible and useful. It is not light reading, but neither is it a psychology textbook. This is something of a master atlas for a lot of the mental landscape I have been traveling in for the last 10 years.

If you would like to read an excerpt, here is a link to the original essay that was expanded into the book:

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/shop-class-as-soulcraft

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I wanted to find the letter I read about this book. I wanted to know how I almost missed having this on my reading list. I searched our mail, and tucked away in a ‘Mail Sack” set of notes was this letter from builder  Brian Manlove:

“William –Hope you had a good time at Brodhead & Oshkosh. Just finished a good book:  Shop Class as SoulCraft, by Matthew B. Crawford.  Pretty relevant for today’s world and the loss of craftsmanship and pride in “work of the hands.”Looking forward to more of your words of wisdom…Brian”

I am glad that Buzz drove over and dropped off a copy of SoulCraft, but this is a lesson to follow the endorsements of friends on books. I would be poorer in perspective without reading this book.

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Above from our Oshkosh 2013 coverage, a photo of our neighbor Buzz, who loaned me his copy of the book: “One of the unusual experiences of Oshkosh is running into people from your local airports. On the left, Florida pilot Buzz Glade brought two USAF aviators to the Corvair cookout. It was the first time these men got a good look at grassroots homebuilding and they were impressed, which is no mean feat when you consider that these guys fly F-22 Raptors as a day job.”

Oil Change interval, meeting the challenge

(If the picture does not come through, try hitting F5 at the top of the keyboard.)

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Builders,

I am a lucky guy. When I bring up a serious topic, I can always count on some close friends to send some supporting words of encouragement. Quite often, one of these letters will come from the illustrious mind of 601XL builder Ken Pavlou. (He is the guy who also takes care of the on line college registrations and the parking row at Oshkosh.) Because he was born in Greece, “Adonis” is one of his nicknames. “TTBL” is a reference to the film “Ted.”

” William, Hope you had a great Christmas with your family. I want to share with you that I
mounted both wings on my 601 today. It’s pretty exciting.
Being that I won’t win any awards or break records for quality or performance, I
 decided to try and break the record for longest oil change interval by going
86.5 hours. I just wish I knew of these records before I changed my oil at 0.5,
1, 5, and 10 hours. Oh well.

I wish you a happy and healthy new year. Below is photographic evidence of my progress.

TTBL, “Adonis.”

I hate to tell Ken that 86 hours is just the record for Break in oil, and he has already blown his shot at that. For all I know the longest time between regular changes may be even higher. Ken is a pretty competitive kind of guy, I am sure the will meet the challenge no matter what it is.

Letters from Pete and Steve

Builders,

Two particular letters arrived in the past day from fellow builders and flyers Steve Makish and Pete Chmura. They were both sparked by the story ” Two Letters on Christmas eve. ” Each of the letters references the loss of their Fathers. The stories are tangential to flying, but they are important to me.  Aviators have strong feelings about flying, but also have them for many other aspects of their lives, such as family. In the world of Corvair builders, I have long made sure that we have space for men to share their strongest feelings on both.

People like to complain about “political correctness” , where social stigma is used to deter people from saying non-mainstream things.  Some of the off-beat things are worth sharing, most would simply be edited by taste or being considerate. However, long observation of the human condition has shown me the #1 form of “PC” behavior that people of all political perspectives engage in: refraining from acknowledging the struggles and wounds of others. People hide behind “being polite” when they are just really afraid of conversing and saying the wrong thing. To my perspective, if someone wants or needs to speak, then it is time to listen. When it come to saying something, almost anything said, even poorly worded, is far better than having a fellow human standing alone in a crowd of people.

A number of years ago a friend lost an adult child in an accident. Over time, he had innumerable arguments with friends and co-workers. All of these people quietly complained to each other. To a small group of these people I said “The man has a crippling emotional wound. The physical equivalent would be a six-foot spear stuck in his chest. Everyday, everyone politely walks past him and never mentions or notices the spear. It might just help if someone just said to him, ‘I don’t know what having a spear in my chest it like, but I think you’re doing a damn good job for having that kind of wound.’ Just say that you thought about his kid today instead of pretending they never existed.” When one of the friends said they couldn’t imagine doing that, I politely said I understood, but they were not really the man’s friend.

Above in the orange shirt, Steve Makish (srmakish@aol.com) stands beside his Corvair powered KR2 at Corvair College #8, held at our Edgewater hangar. His friend Bob Lester is in the background with his Corvair powered KR2.

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Steve sent the following note today:

“William I have not written for a year. this has been a bad year and I never thought I  would lose both my parents 13 months apart. Enjoy the time you have with your Mom and Dad and cherish the moments. Happy New Year. Your friend, Steve”

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From Pete Chmura, (petechmura@gmail) sent this letter:

“My Father passed yesterday at age 87. He flew Stearmans at Alameda NAS at the end of the war. He never flew after that. Last summer he said he wished he had “bought that plane” after he was discharged. I’ll be 54 next month. Time to get some wings.”

Pete’s letter made me think about the book above. Max Henderson was my instruments instructor at Embry-Riddle.  The book is his fathers coming of age diary from being part of a barnstorming team in 1935-36. Max found it after his father past. In 2000, Max was the Christmas guest speaker at my EAA chapter. He told a very moving story about how his dad had always downplayed his love of aviation when the kids in his family were growing up. After he passed, Max realized that his father had loved aviation as much as any man, but he had sacrificed his own ambitions to make sure that his kids got a better running start at higher education and their own times in aviation. When Max said this in front of 70 or 80 members of chapter 288, each of us thought of our own parents. There were few, if any dry eyes in the house.

Two Letters on Christmas eve.

Builders,

I write this from my sister’s house in Charleston SC, where my family is gathering for Christmas this year. After driving to NJ for my Father’s 88th birthday, My brother-in-law, John and I drove Mom and Dad here to get them to a warmer setting for the holidays.  It is a long drive, but it is easier on them than airline travel, and they still like to get out and change horizons. On Memorial day I often tell people I have the ‘ultimate luxury’ of being able to speak with my Father by just picking up the phone any day. I am well aware of how few people my age still have both their parents, and this I am most thankful for on this Christmas eve.

On my mind are two letters that came in from people who are not so lucky, and I would like to share them with you because I found them very moving. The first one came from Randy Cary. It was written in response to my story about my Fathers 88th birthday last week, a story you can read at this link: William E. Wynne Sr. turns 88 today. Note that Randy’s Dad graduated from West Point on D-Day. It made me think about all the commencement speakers who have told graduates that they will ‘make a difference in the world.’  Randy’s Father and others of the Greatest Generation certainly did, in some cases at a terrible personal cost.

“William,
Have a great time with your Dad. There is no better way to spend the holidays than to be with family. My dad graduated from West Point on June 6, 1944 and went into the lines at Bastogne on Christmas Eve of 44 in the Battle of the Bulge. Like your dad, he didn’t want special treatment and always felt that there was someone who was worse off than he was. I lost him in 2000 and miss him every day. And to think that he was 23 when he went to war and when I compare him to a lot of similarly aged young people today, it just baffles me.
Count every day as a blessing for you, as I know you do. I have read you blog for three years now.  Merry Christmas to you, Grace and your families.

Randy Cary”

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Above, Charles Poland Jr., 1947-2013.

The second letter came Aaron Poland. He wrote it about his father who sacrificed his own life to save other people’s children on January 29th 2013. If you read a single story I wrote this year, I would like it to be this one: Charles Poland Jr., An American of whom you could be proud. It is not possible to express how much the actions of Charles Poland moved me. Our world is sadly filled with people who make inaccurate judgements on the character of others based on surface issues like race, politics, appearance, professed faith or material wealth. I knew none of these things about Charles Poland when I read about the events of January 29th, and it shows you how none of these things reveal human character, only a man’s actions do. Everything you need to know about Charles Poland could be understood by considering how he chose to spend his last 60 seconds on Earth. The note I received from his son Aaron was very brief, just affirming the code that his Father lived and died by:

“I hope you where able to stop by in Newton, AL. Dad is buried in the local cemetery there. Dad was a helicopter crew chief in the US Army. Dad always believed to do the right thing at all cost and he proved it.”

This will be the first Christmas that the Poland family will have without their father. He was 66 years old, and they surely thought they would have him for many more years. As I type this, my own father sits in the next room sipping a cup of coffee with my mother by his side. Thankfulness for this drives me to acknowledge the losses of others less fortunate.

Later tonight, I am going to send a short E-mail To Aaron Poland simply saying that I think his Father was a real hero, and I was thinking of his family on this day.  If you would like to join me in this, Aaron’s E-mail address is: acpoland@gmail.com . I have never met him, don’t know anything about him except who his father was. I don’t know what ‘right’ thing to say is, but I will say something. I read an essay last year that said we don’t often face a choice between good and evil, but we continuously face choosing between doing something and doing nothing. To remember a father who instinctively chose to do something, at the cost of his life, writing a short note at Christmas seems like a small but important action.-ww

Predictions of “The Magnificent Stick”

Builders,

Let me introduce a mysterious character known to his friends simply as “The Magnificent Stick.” He is a very interesting combination of being outside the main stream of our industry, and yet he is totally connected by an extensively cultivated network of insider friends, contacts, paid informants, malcontents and moles. If you need to know something, just ask; but beware, information comes with a price. He may try to recruit you to his shadowy army of intelligence gathering. I share his photo below after asking his permission. He gave his ok to any photo taken before 2000, as he has since had work done that defeats facial recognition software. He changes his look often, and I have had a minute long conversation with a guy in the booth at Oshkosh only to have the person I am addressing say “William, wake up, it’s me, The Stick.”

If you are a Corvair guy, you may have met him, but probably don’t know it. If you met him twice, but a year apart, you probably didn’t understand it was the same guy. If you are reading this, and you think you may know who he is, please do not e-mail your guess, and certainly don’t write in to any website and identify yourself as potentially being able to identify him. It’s not a good idea. When you read the stuff he has given me permission to leak, you will understand why he has a long list of cranky people trying to track down a name he uses on his drivers license.  If you are good at keeping secrets, and would like a chance to meet him in person, I have word that he will be at Corvair College #27. Your only question will be which one of the other builders is he?

Here is an example of the depth of information that The Stick has in his possession: Last week, I wrote a story complaining about “J-Mac Mcllean” the editor in chief of EAA publications. Shortly afterward the shop phone rings. The caller ID has a very strange number with the prefix “868” (I later find out this is for Trinadad in the West Indies). It is the Stick calling. When I asked where he was, he just said “Pool side at the Hilton, but that isn’t important now.” He then asked if I wanted to know Mcllean’s exact salary from the EAA.

me: “Sure. “

TMS: “He is paid $170,000 annually, and has a $40,000 per year pre-approved expense account”

me: “Wow.”

TMS: “Would you like to know what AD was missed on his last annual? His tax rate? shoe size?

me: “Maybe just knowing how much he is paid to write stories about French turboprops is enough”

TMS: “OK, but have you heard that the Chinese government has been making offers on buying Piper Aircraft? Did you hear they are working on Lancair at the same time?”

me: “Really?”

TMS “Sad but true. Gotta go, my babe is here with a pitcher of martinis.”

Blast from the past, Circa 1999: The magnificent Stick stands with Grace and myself in front of our Pietenpol by our old hangar at the Spruce Creek fly-in. -ww

In defense of our friend, writer Tim Kern

Builders,

A number of builders wrote me today pointing out an error in the EAA publications story on engines at Oshkosh. It appeared in the Experimenter magazine.  Basically, the whole coverage we received was just a paragraph, and the picture that went with the story was a Jabbaru engine, and it wasn’t even a good photo of one either. The story was written by Tim Kern. I am typing this because I have known Tim for about 15 years, and he is one of the very few journalists who knows anything about experimental power plants, and he certainly knows what a Corvair looks like. I just didn’t want anyone reading Tim’s byline on the story and discounting his aviation experience. He has written very informative stories on the Corvair previously, and todays glitch had nothing to do with him. This does bring up a bit of a larger discussion. I worked for EAA publications for four years, and I have had about 50 stories published in their periodicals. Let me share some insight on how this type of error happens.

Above, Tim Kern on the left, and Journalist Pat Panzera outside our booth at Sun n Fun 2011. This was the first photo in our files I drew up of Tim, but ironically it actually is an ideal photo to explain a little about how stories get messed up after writers submit them.

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Many of the people who have written for EAA publications, Tim and myself included, don’t live anywhere near headquarters at Oshkosh. Many of us set foot inside the publications office in the lower floor of headquarters less than once a year. Even when my name was on the EAA masthead, we just wrote stories and submitted them. If one of them was published in a month, the EAA sent me a check for $200. No one does this to get rich, it is just a good way of making a contribution to the general body of knowledge of the EAA membership.

What made the whole system work smoothly was having outstanding people as editors at headquarters, people who really knew journalism and homebuilts. When I worked there, Scott Spangler was Editor in Chief and Mary Jones as my direct boss. Both of these people love homebuilts, are outstanding in their craft, respected by industry people. In the years I regularly wrote for Publications, nothing like today’s error would have happened, because the teams would have caught that kind of error. Not so today, and I am going to use the other guy in the golf cart to explain why…

When the EAA transitioned the Experimenter to an on line publication, they made a very smart move and made the second guy in the golf cart, Pat Panzera, the editor in chief of it.  I have known Pat for a very long time. We are close friends, to the point of bickering like brothers at times. I will be the first person to tell you that In the several years that he was the editor of the Experimenter, he wasn’t perfect, but he damn sure knew a lot  about homebuilts, flying and builders. He ran the magazine out of his office in California. The EAA had almost no overhead, they didn’t even have to give him a desk. The EAA does waste money on some things, but on line editors salaries isn’t one of them. Pat ran the whole show and wrote a good chunk of the stories for a whopping $15K/year. That had to be the bargain of the century in aviation publishing.  Use this as an example that many of the people who do the hard work at the EAA are barely paid. You are correct in assuming that many of the people higher up in the organizational chart have comparatively astronomical paychecks.

Pat doesn’t work for the EAA anymore. If you are thinking that he quit after realizing that he could earn more money per hour by accepting any minimum wage job in his home state of California, you are not correct. He was terminated when the new director of publications, “J-Mac” Mcllean arrived. Yes, that is correct, the editor infamous for selecting the French TBM-850 turboprop as an “affordable” aircraft to feature in Sport Aviation, the same person who has shown countless times that he doesn’t like homebuilts nor homebuilders, the guy who came to Oshkosh more than 30 times as the editor of flying magazine, but never stooped to becoming an EAA member until the new owners of Flying fired him and he needed a job, yes that same guy decided that the EAA didn’t need anyone working there who knew one homebuilt from another.

“J-Mac” is a hold over from the ill fated time of Rod Hightower trying to be president of the EAA. They were good friends, but now Rod has been dismissed by the BOD, and a number of friends of mine who have been EAA members for the last 25 years are looking forward to ” J-Mac” finding a new employer. I have friends in the position of knowing a lot more about the current outlook of the EAA who assure me that the organization has turned a corner, and things are being fixed. I genuinely hope they are right. One of the first outward signs that will tell me the EAA is back on track is having a new editor in chief of EAA publications, a person who understands and respects the fact that the EAA was founded by, and exists to serve the interests of homebuilders.-ww

Mail Sack, Various topics, 9/27/13, Part two.

Builders,

Here is the second half of the mail:

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On the topic of: Bob Barrows to Fly LSA Bearhawk to CC #27, Barnwell, S.C., Nov. 2013

Builder in Hati, Howard Horner writes:

I have been a member of the Bearhawk builder’s groups for years and really admire Bob’s designs and the support he and the more experienced builders provide not to mention his character. I spoke to Bob some time ago to inquire about the possibility of hiring him to engineer a folding wings option for the LSA as I wish to pull my plane behind my motor home when I travel. He very kindly and graciously said no and suggested I buy a powered parachute. Still chuckling…

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On the topic of: Larry Hudson, Master Upholsterer, parts and core for sale

Zenith 650 builder Paul Normandin  writes:

William, glad the Zenith college went so well, good to have you back! Just to let you know, I took that core off Larry’s hands about two hours ago. My original core is so badly corroded that I was never going to get it apart in time for college 27. I will keep it and continue to work on it but it is destined for something other than my 650… I am thinking maybe a Tailwind sometime in the future! Paul

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On the topic of : Communist  Chinese government at Oshkosh

Builder Jon Ross writes:

William: So at EAA you would prefer Hightower over Pelton? :)

The Chinese are indeed very underhanded, and having spent time there I can tell you that they are very nefarious. Like you, I am concerned about the transfer of technology to China, and it usually begins with the search for cheap manufacturing; American companies begin by selling expertise and tooling to China and the products end up being cheaply made in China. Try buying an American made air compressor… And that Chinese 4130 tubing that is available is real junk, I tell builders not to use it. Almost all the tubing Wicks sells is of Chinese origin. All that said, one cannot deny the Chinese display space at Oshkosh. American companies are free to sell their stock to any buyer, and that includes the Chinese. Most business owners are fully aware of the real facts behind this situation, and  they make a choice to knowingly sell to China. It’s an old trick in aviation called find a bigger sucker. I remember a phase some years ago where American companies were selling like crazy to the Japanese, that did not work out very well did it? Likely, the same will occur with respect to China, and  it will be exacerbated by the huge amount of “American Paper” that they now hold. This will not end pleasantly… of that I am certain. Warm Regards, Jon Ross

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Parting Shot; On the topic of:  Deal of the Day,  simple MA3 carb. (Sold at 1 am, 9/1/13)

Zenith 650 builder Becky Shipman writes:

When my instructor first showed me an aircraft carburetor, I laughed. Even the low end motorcycles I was riding at the time had much more sophisticated carburetors. This looked like something off a 1930′s tractor, to my untrained eye. Later, thinking on it, the words of my Dad came back to me. Dad was a combustion expert, and during long car drives I would ask a question and he would “pontificate”. I will paraphrase one of these discussions that hit me. The internal combustion engine is a constant speed device. The car is a variable speed application. Carburetor design is the art of making one fit the other. The reason we use it is because gasoline is light, compact, and powerful.  A car engine runs most efficiently on a small engine with its throttle open. But we put tremendous demands for acceleration on our cars, and years of engineering have been spent adapting the engine to a task for which it is ill suited. It is much better for boats or airplanes.

So now it has become clear to me the differences in carburetor design. Freed from the constraints of acceleration against a fixed object (the road), aircraft carburetor designers can concentrate on the important factors, which are reliability, and ability to adapt to different air densities. And I no longer laugh when I see an aircraft carburetor.

And in your business, I get a better understanding of the decision making and challenges involved in taking an auto engine and converting it to an aircraft engine.

Progress – mounted my nose gear, and the motor mount, and now I can start working on the jigsaw puzzle of installing the fuel, ignition, air, and cooling flow paths.

Mail Sack, Various topics, 9/27/13, Part one.

Builders,

Here is a sample of the mail on a number of different stories. To refresh your memory, you can click on the link to read the original story the letter is referring to. To cover mail like this takes a few hours, but I like it because the things builders write make me stop, consider, really think. At 50, I am less sure of many things than I was when I was 25. Today there are more facets to issues, less hard lines on many topics. I am never convinced that I am absolutely right on any issue, I only am willing to say what I believe to be true because I have experienced it under these circumstances, and took the measure of what we are speaking of. I go out of my way to resist using that position as a spring board to jump to conclusions that come in sentences with words like “always”, “never” and “everyone.” Invariably, such sweeping statements are proven wrong with a single exception, but their real trap is they are the easy way out, the simple answer to the hard question, something I have learned never to trust.

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On the topic of:  Sunday,  a long day at the airport.

Elaine Culver writes:

You are one heck of a theologian.  “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi set”  (sounds even better in Duruflé’s setting.)

Gyro builder and CC#9 grad Brent Brown writes:

I hope to see you and Grace at a fly in someday.

Brent, it has been too long, if you are in the country, stop by and see us at CC#27.-ww.

builder Phil Carley writes:

William, Thank you for sharing the Tom C. story.  Just another reminder for me to be thankful for the loved ones in my life. My wife always tells me (and I need reminding of this). We do not know what events or sorrows happen to other people.  Therefore, patience and kindness speaks volumes.

Builder Daniel Mears writes:

Your reflections on Tom C. remind me of my father-in-law who was somewhat like the Clint Eastwood character in Gran Torino.  Rough on the exterior, a World War II Vet who was an avid gun collector, he drank a little, and wasn’t easy to warm up to.  Once you got below that crusty exterior there was an absolute treasure trove of historical data locked into a mind with an IQ off the chart.  So easily we dismiss people because of their bluntness or lack of finesse but I find that folks shouldn’t be so quickly judged.  I too am an Army veteran and my son just returned from Afghanistan a couple of months ago.  You never know what dragons are in the closets or the atrocities a person may have repeating in their mind… Thanks for your insights, it is uplifting to see what you’re thinking about in the wee hours.

Builder Allen Oliver writes:

“J’aurais dû être plus gentille—I should have been more kind. That is something a person will never regret. You will never say to yourself when you are old, Ah, I wish I was not good to that person. You will never think that.” ― Khaled Hosseini, “And the Mountains Echoed” William, you appear to have done better than most with Tom in this regard.

Builder Sonny Webster writes:

William, while I fully appreciate all you have done and continue to do for the Corvair “movement” I think you should consider writing as a second career or hobby.  You have great insight on the human condition and a way with words that conveys the true depth of every story you write.  I too   am thankful for having a loving family upbringing and feel very sad for people like Tom.  Building airplanes and motors is more than just going through some mechanical motions; it is really more about the characters of the people who take this path to finding satisfaction in life.  While I have chosen the path of a professional life for the sake of providing a “nice” lifestyle for my family I truly long for a simpler, more gratifying lifestyle – even if that means making much less than my current 6-figure income.  Were it just me I would gladly step back however, I have a wife and two teenage daughters who have become accustomed to the material and social standards that have become normal so I will have to stay committed to a very stressful, unrewarding existence in my current automotive career until such time that I can justify finally living a little more for me and my dreams.  I sometimes feel guilty for such a seemingly selfish agenda but I always go back to the analogy of cockpit decompression:  I must put on my oxygen mask first because if I pass out I can be of no help to those around me.  Thanks again for your work and words.-Sonny

Pietenpol builder Terry Hand, USMC/ATP writes:

William, You wake up every morning with the perfect reminder of how we should live our lives. You wake up and say, “Good morning, Grace.” Grace is defined in Christianity as God’s free and unmerited favor toward us. People may not be Christian in their religious beliefs, but it is hard, if not impossible, to argue with the concept. Free and unmerited favor. It is how we should live and treat those around us. Thank you for telling us Tom C.’s story and reminding us a little of how we should be as humans, and not just builders. Semper Fi, Terry.

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On the topic of : Brodhead, Oshkosh and Beyond 2013

Merlin on floats Corvair builder and flyer Jeff Moores writes:

Hi William, I know you guys were very busy but it was great to talk to you and Grace at Oshkosh this year. I also had the opportunity to meet and chat with Vern, Roy and Mark at your booth, as well as the Johnson brothers. My wife and I  also met fellow builder/flyer Pat Hoyt and his wife. To be able to talk to another successful builder and see his installation was an excellent experience. When we were at Oshkosh four years ago I was only considering using the Corvair and this year being there as a successful builder and flyer was very special indeed !!-Jeff

Pietenpol builder Mark Chouinard writes:

Took several photos at Brodhead and around the booth at OSH with the intention of sending you some, which I obviously never got around to… glad to see that you got a bunch of good ones.  Getting a lot of compliments on my engine and mount.  Looking forward to getting both installed.  Enjoyed the write up… by the way, my tape measure is fine, I’m 77″.  It was good to see you guys… see you next year in San Marcos, TX.

Builder Brian Manlove writes:

William –Hope you had a good time at Brodhead & Oshkosh. Just finished a good book:  Shop Class as SoulCraft, by Matthew B. Crawford.  Pretty relevant for today’s world and the loss of craftsmanship and pride in “work of the hands.”Looking forward to more of your words of wisdom…Brian

Zenith 601XL builder and flyer Pat Hoyt writes:

Brodhead and Oshkosh are the high points of the year.  Reconnecting with old friends, meeting new ones, and seeing all the amazing examples of craftsmanship on display.  A week or two just isn’t enough…Flying ones own homebuilt airplane into Oshkosh for the first time is one of those big milestones of life for people like us.  The experience of flying there and “being there” – in an airplane that I built – was unlike anything I could have imagined.  Patrick Hoyt N63PZ

PS:  here’s a nice picture of your dog along with a couple of characters at the fire circle at Brodhead:  https://plus.google.com/photos/104939905154766012049/albums/5774020932215628737/5911667591985435314?banner=pwa&pid=5911667591985435314&oid=104939905154766012049

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On the topic of Back from the road, notes on Communications

Builder Dan Branstrom writes:

William, I suggest that you repeat this every month, especially before you go to OSH, SNF, or a CC. You might also might put it on your website, as well as close to the order form.  Yes I know, people don’t read, but it sure stops complaints cold when you say, “As I wrote on my website…” (or manual or blog). As it’s written in your manual, people expect someone with white lab coat and lots of assistants, while the reality is far different.  By running a lean operation, you’re able not only to stay in business, but provide excellent, safe products at a reasonable price.-Dan

Pietenpol builder Terry Hand writes:

What a great post! Now I know EXACTLY how to reach you! It is now in my important notes binder. I have heard people at times say, “I can’t get hold of that William Wynne guy”. What is his issue? The issue is that you are focused on the task at hand and the person at hand. Simple as that. I would much rather have you focused when you are building my die spring gear, than to have you trying to talk, eat, hold your phone between you ear and your shoulder while trying to safely and accurately weld on my landing gear, thanks for what you do. Terry.

Zenith 650 builder Paul Normandin writes:

William, I don’t have any issue with your philosophy; when it comes time for you to weld a mount for me I would rather know that 100% of your attention is on the task at hand! Too many folks today want/require instant gratification, thank you Electronic Age. I more or less expected that you would take some much deserved time off after your 20 state trip, any normal person would. Why don’t the allegedly normal people who call you and complain understand that?
I enjoyed reading about Brodhead and Oshkosh, thanks for the wonderful update and photos. I hope your trip to visit your Dad and family, and Grace’s visit as well, were both pleasant and restful. I will be swinging by my brother’s place in N.C. before heading to Corvair Collage 27. I haven’t seen that one in years and am looking forward to a long talk (or fight) like you can only have with family… and I won’t have a cell phone to my ear while driving either!
BTW, I have done some small amount of retail and customer facing jobs and I can say without fear of INTELLIGENT contradiction, that the customer is not ALWAYS right… I have found that the customer is occasionally an idiot.

Paul, one of the core qualities of our work is the recognition that if you gather people who want to learn and create things, you will have a much better group of people to work with than a guy only gathering customers who want to buy something. Many of the people who work in our industry relentlessly complain about their  customers behind the scenes. I will often interject that you get the people you attract, and we are a lot happier because our efforts attract builders, not consumers.-ww 

Builder Vic Delgado writes:

I don’t know about that truck being basic William, I see some luxury as that looks like a pretty fancy armrest you have there. -Vic

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Parting Shot on Sunday,  a long day at the airport.

by Zenith 750 builder Charlie Redditt:

Reminds me of when I worked as a field assistant for a Geologist in Death Valley, from Oct of 1990 through May of 1991.  Dr. Jay Kent Snow (aka Zeke) was mapping the strata of the Panamint Mountains that form the NW wall of the  valley.  In addition to helping  him with fieldwork, I also did the cooking and other chores.  Every two weeks we’d change camp, which meant I also got to do the laundry, take out the trash, and get the mail.  All of which  meant I got to  hike an extra 5 to 10 miles back to our support vehicle and drive about 15 miles back to the Park Service concession at Stovepipe Wells, which is what passed for civilization out there,  Our vehicle happened to be a 4wd Chevy suburban  probably not too different from your recent purchase, although Zeke and his boss, Brian Wernicke, had special ordered it with a three speed manual transmission.  It also came with a 55 gallon barrel of water,  a week or two of food, two spares, shovels, and chains.  Once inside the Panamints, the road was a canyon floor and breakdowns could be lethal if you weren’t prepared.  The canyons could get rather narrow in places as well, and I remember having to roll the rear window down, from the outside of the vehicle,  just in case we got wedged in a tight spot and  wouldn’t be able to open the doors.

Well,  the point of all this is that I can relate to your desire for simplicity due to one experience in particular.  One day that December I found myself driving back into the Panamints when the suburban just died.  No warning, no running rough, it just quit.  I tried cranking it a few times, and it turned over just fine, but did not start.  I  looked under the hood and nothing obvious seemed amiss.  Since that was the limit of my mechanical ability, I was faced with two choices: either hike back ten miles (through a sandstorm) down to Stovepipe Wells to get help, or hike 5 miles up the canyon to explain the situation to Zeke (who by now was wondering what was taking me so long)  spend the night at our campsite with minimal supplies, and make the trek back to Stovepipe Wells the next day.   Not life threatening, but not pleasant choices either.

“God takes care of fools and drunks,”  and so at this point I benefit from what I can only explain as divine intervention.   Note that by this time I had spent over two months in Death Valley, and during that whole time I had never seen another soul up in the mountains except for Zeke, the guy I worked for.  For some reason Death Valley just isn’t that popular a hiking spot.  If you want peace and quiet, it’s hard to beat.   So, of course it is at this very moment that some random guy comes by, riding his mountain bike.

When I first saw him I realized that I passed his truck about 5 miles back at the entrance into the Panamints from the valley floor, and so I flagged him down and asked him if he could give me a ride back into Stovepipe Wells, or at least carry word back that we needed a tow.  Before I could finish telling him all the particulars of my plight, however, he stopped me and says, “I’m a mechanic, do you mind if I take a look?”

Once I recovered from my faint, I eagerly helped him pop the hood and poke around. Took him about a minute to find the problem, which was a blown fuse to the ignition system.  He  swapped the radio fuse in for the blown one, and I’m good as new.   Most of my driving  experience till that point was in a ‘73 VW superbeetle, with which I had traversed the country.  Although it had its issues it was not susceptible to sudden death by fuse.

The guy’s  name was Gordan Yasman, and he ran the “Yaztek” garage in Sebastapol, California. Refusing payment, he gave me his card and continued on his way, cycling up the canyon.  BTW in my remaining six months in Death Valley,  I never saw another hiker, cyclist, ranger or any other person in the Panamints except for Zeke and my girlfriend Susan.  After Gordon took care of me I was literally looking over my shoulder for Zaphod Beeblebrox and the Heart of Gold.

Mailsack 7/24/13

Builders:

The topic below touched a nerve with builders. I also received a number of private letters. One of them I read very carefully came from a thoughtful builder who had lived and worked in China. He pointed out that choosing to use words like “Communist” was a distraction, and that The Chinese had moved so far from Marx that the term no loner applied to them, and just harkened back to McCarthyism, causing people to miss the point that this is largely about how the short term greed of the few here is used by the long term goals of the Chinese. I agree with his main point. However, when I describe the PRC as ‘Communist” I am not primarily thinking of economics, I am thinking of them as a totalitarian police state with little respect for human rights. There was a time when a lot of Americans were bothered by the thought of other humans living in those conditions, but today we ignore it as long as they provide all the cheap consumer trash that supplies our gluttony for gadgets.  Here is a sample of the mail:

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On the topic of Communist Chinese government at Oshkosh

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Builder Dan Branstrom wrote:

” I’m the son of missionaries to China.  While we fled the communist takeover in 1949, I also realize that the incredible corruption of the Nationalist Chinese government, now on Taiwan, and now much reformed, eased the way for the takeover. I also believe that much of our early hostility towards the communist government was unwarranted.  That does not mean that I think Chairman Mao was a good guy.  After all, he is responsible for more deaths than any other person, and that includes Hitler and Stalin, because of his economic, military, and social policies.  It just means that I think many of our policies were unnecessarily hostile at the time.

Now things have swung the other way.  We have now become unnecessarily friendly towards the “Communist” government.  We have pursued economic policies that have, in effect, given them the keys to the candy store in the name of a “free market.” I say “free market” because, in dealing with Chinese “businesses,” there is no “free market.”  Everything is owned by the government because businesses only exist because the government says they can, and it intervenes whenever it wants.  They are tools of the government.  Decades ago, when China “opened up,” U.S. businesses were required to take on a Chinese partner if they were to do business in China.  The purpose of this was to transfer as much industrial technology as possible to China.  They then ate our lunch because those businesses, supported by the government, it’s financial aid and industrial espionage, used our R & D, which they didn’t have to underwrite, to undercut our businesses. At every turn, they kept holding out the carrot of the “vast, emerging, Chinese market.”  That is an illusion, because they have no intention of having us produce for that market, but to produce for themselves.  The “vast, emerging, Chinese market” was a big, fake incentive, and we fell for it.”

“P.S. Apparently, the Chinese just bought Thielert.”

Zenith builder Dave Griggs wrote:

“William, I had heard of all the Chinese investment in US aviation business, I am not sure where, maybe AOPA. I had more of an  interest in Cirrus because my son works there. Cirrus had put their jet program on hold and was experiencing layoffs in the manufacturing end of things, probably due to the economy and market. My son was saved from layoff by moving to the maintenance side of the company. So far the Influx of the Chinese money has created American jobs. Cirrus is actively working on their jet program and are hiring new people. Of course I am concerned about the long range goal of the Chinese investors. Will jobs eventually be moved out of the country? A bigger concern may be that a good portion of our huge national debt may be owed to The Chinese. Dave Griggs Zenith 750 builder in hot and humid Minnesota “

Zenith builder Paul Normandin wrote:


“William, About two weeks ago I was in Home Depot looking for a step drill bit, I noticed that it was made in China. On a whim, I walked up and down aisles and picked up objects trying to find something, anything not made in China. I didn’t even limit my search to “Made in the USA” just anyplace that wasn’t China. I failed. Bolts, screws nuts in stainless (nothing like that high grade Chinese stainless), brass, galvanized… I looked at lock sets, power and hand tools, all made in China. It shames me to see so much of what was once proudly made in the USA now being manufactured by virtual slave labor in China. We can’t have free trade with Cuba because they are evil communists. We can have all of our goods manufactured by human rights violating, environment raping slavers (who are also, by the way, Communists just like Cuba). We got here through greed; corporations wanting to make maximum profit without caring about anything more than the bottom line, and buyers who wanted cheap products without regard to where they were made. The only way I know how to fix this problem is to refuse to buy Chinese manufactured products but God damn, they are everywhere.”

Zenith builder Phil Carley wrote:

“Dear William, I share your passion and concern for “Made In America” for General Aviation and other industries. I was employed at a Computer Distribution Company from 1994 to 2004. This company outsourced it’s programing to India and many people lost their jobs.  I did not lose my job, but I saw no path for advancement within the programing environment.  I’m currently working for a local distribution company selling Rod Ends.

I’m training for my Sport Pilot license in a Cessna Skycatcher 162, made in CHINA, and thanks to your enlighten article Continental Motors, Inc. is now owned by the CHINESE!  Even though the motors are made in Mobil, Alabama.  Is it only a matter of time before the manufacturing will be taken off shore to China or maybe a nice CHINESE CLONE? After I complete my Sport Pilot training I plan to build a CH 650B with a Corvair motor and I will have “Made In America” my project theme.   Phil Carley Working American”

Builder Bruce Culver wrote:

“I think Paul P. would agree with you. He was getting involved with another homebuilding group dedicated to actually building light airplanes. I agree that a new organization is needed, because EAA has very little interest at all in true light aviation and homebuilding. As you have said, the big companies can make as much money selling 100 $1 million airplanes to the wealthy as they can selling several hundred $50,000 airplanes to the working classes, and it’s a lot less hassle. We are pretty much on our own. The irony here is that the “flying rights” they want to protect serve only the interests of the “professionals” who now run the EAA/AOPA/Private Pilot crowd. Those of us who want to fly “low and slow”, primarily VFR, will not have to use many if any of the FAA services for our basic light aviating. And long after the dearth of enough GA airplanes to support the current repair/maintenance infrastructure causes most of that infrastructure to disappear, the true homebuilders will be inspecting and repairing their own planes. Maybe we’ll be the only ones left…..at least down low.”

Builder Dave Morris wrote:

“We’re giving them our aviation industry, and right north of me we are training their pilots by the hundreds. Boy this is not going to have a happy outcome at all.”

Cruiser builder Sarah Ashmore wrote:

“You are so right once again. It is sickening to see how much of U.S. industy is now owned by Communist China, not to mention how many valuable, high paying, skilled jobs have been exported theer as well. As for the EAA I have a suspicion that in the not to distant future they will decide to “Re-Invent” the organization to be more representative of is base and drop the word “Experimental” from the name. We see other Big Businesses doing such a reinvention of their corporations all the time and EAA is big business otherwise the half million tab from the FAA would have shut this years convention down. As you have pointed out the EAA magazine has long since lost touch with the grass roots membership and only highlights mega bucks projects that have very little owner content (builder is no longer a valid term for those aircraft). Sun-N-Fun long ago replaced Oshkosh as the must attend event for the year and even they are starting to get too big to represent the EAA base.”

Builder “Pete” wrote:

“Unfortunately, went I went to the big model airplane meet most of the vendors there were selling chinese made parts.  A few vendors were filling the gaps with small business built items but sadly its just like Walmart was a few years ago with foreign made products dominating the market.
Who do I blame?  George H W Bush, former ambassador and traitor to the American economy.”

Pete, I think a lot of people had their hand in the transfer of jobs overseas. The thing the surprises me is how fast people switched from 85% of American’s caring about “Made in America” to 85% not caring at all. This only took 20 years. I can remember when Harley owners were outraged to find the factory had subcontracted some of the forks to Japan. Now, very few people care about such things. The mayor of Detroit pointed out that they have gone from 300,000 goo manufacturing jobs to 27,000. You can not sustain a city, an industry nor a country on this basis. Everyone knows this, but few people care, as long as they get what they want today cheap. If a US plant with 1,000 good middle class jobs is closed, that is a 1,000 people who are not going to be capable of building a plane, learning to fly or practicing their craft any time soon, if ever. The CEO who sells out the jobs makes the investors happy, he gets a big bonus and buys a Cirrus or a TBM, and we a supposed to think of this as ‘efficiency’ and making good sense. It is just personal greed in place of your neighbors, your children and your country.-ww

Zenith builder / Our JRB  Spencer Rice wrote:

“Just gave me another reason to build my own plane and build a Corvair engine!”

Builder Jackson Ordean wrote:

“The time is past ripe for a new organization/group.  I only support EAA because I don’t know of another alternative that is devoid of suits, concrete, glass, steel, big staff, slick mags, big expensive stuff, and Chinese sellouts. Of course, I’d want you to be President and lead on in the spirit of Poberezny.”

Jackson, I think you are right on, and the EAA has taken homebuilders for granted because they were the ‘only game in town’.  Today, what they underestimated was that a number of builders would choose nothing over them. I appreciate your support, butI have a better idea: Each of us starts with the premise that we are our own aviation organization. Our Shops are our temple of creativity, and we don’t need to feel that Oshkosh and the EAA management is the center of our aviation experience unless they re-earn it. Self reliance and sharing this with other like minded builders is great stuff, and you don’t really need a large top heavy management organization in another state selling you tickets for $150 to attend your own membership convention. Wherever you are should be the center of your aviation experience.-ww

Mail Sack, 7/13/14

Builders, Here is a sample of the mail:

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On the story of: Zenith 601/650 Motor mounts, P/N 4201(A)

Zenith 601XL builder/flyer Phil Maxson writes:

“I think you may be a bit to hard on salespeople here.  You may not like them, but most businesses find them very useful, or they would get rid of the sales department altogether to save costs.  That doesn’t seem to be happening.

One of the jobs of a salesman is to understand the customers needs and supply that need.  What’s unethical about that?  Of course there are unethical sales people, and in a highly specialized industry like aviation, an ethical salesperson has to be very well informed.  I’ve found many a very helpful sales person in aviation businesses.”

Phil, My negative comments about salesmen are directed to raise the ‘buyer beware’ element in people new to homebuilding, and make them aware that journalists, in the role of consumer watchdogs, effectively do not exist in experimental aviation. Example: 10 years ago, “Daytona Cub” was a new cub marketed by people based at Spruce Creek, my airport where I was president of EAA-288. The man selling the kits knew nothing of building planes, but he talked a good line, that was often repeated verbatim by the press that he wined and dined. He publicly said many times “Our fuselages are made of .057 wall tubing which is 10% heavier but 40% stronger” Several obvious lies starting with they don’t make tubing in that wall thickness. Yet, I was the only person who ever pointed out that he was 100% used car salesman and 0% homebuilder. Look them up on line, plenty of people offer glowing testimonials, yet they were out of business in a few years. They often co-promoted a turbine called an ATP, which also got great reviews from journalists that had never seen it run. This engine investment later becomes Innodyn, collects investors and goes bankrupt. Today you can buy the URL “Innodyn.com”for $25 and restart the whole scam all over again. I am quite sure that “journalists” would fall all over themselves to write good things about it as long as it was shiny and had a grey haired guy in a polo shirt to stand in front of it and spout ‘facts’ they could put to print. There is nothing wrong with knowledgeable people promoting good things, even if they are speaking of or selling things that they personally can not make with their own hands, just as long as the things they are saying happen to be true.

Some homebuilders believe that they are not likely to be targets of the rip off people because they have modest incomes and small budgets to spend. Let me correct this misunderstanding now.  Many rip off people know that if they came out with a $450,000 kit for the uber-wealthy, that if they didn’t deliver, the wealthy have lawyers on retainer, and will use them. Conversely they know lifting $4,500 from 100 times as many people requires more work, but most people with this kind of budget have never hired a lawyer in their life, and will walk away from that size  loss, and in most cases, will not even mention it to anyone else because they feel stupid for getting taken. If you think I am wrong about this, let me point out that Jim Bedee is still alive. Look up ‘Dream wings” and learn about this tactic. I was with Steve Rahm at the Dream wings presentation at SnF 1995, and Steve politely pointed out that the claimed stall speeds, g-loadings and Va speeds mathematically could not work, and he asked which one of the three numbers wasn’t right. Answer: Physics didn’t apply to their plane. The journalists present like the answer and called the design ‘ground breaking’. I guess that is the correct description for any plane that physics doesn’t apply to. This stuff is in high gear at Oshkosh. A few years ago, a new S-LSA  amphibious aircraft from Europe shows up. I was in the booth next to them. Plane arrives on trailer the day before the show; At the press conference I watch 20 journalists be told that it ‘flies great, flew in without problem, flight testing going great’. Gus Warren looks at it from 40 feet away and says, ‘That’s funny, it has no N-numbers”. Neither did it have an airworthiness cert. If you knew anything about aircraft building it was easy to see that it had no brake lines and many other details. But they did have shiny paint and salesmen, and this was all it took to fool journalists, who had never built a single aircraft part with their own hand that had ever flown. Offering these warnings is of little effect, because people rarely heed them, and the backlash is that I am often painted as a malcontent for doing so. The industry doesn’t like people that can’t ” go along to get along” and keep their mouth shut, and for the most part, neither do the majority of homebuilders who want to believe that physics defying airplanes exist simply because they want one.-ww.

International Aviator Tom Graziano writes:

“William, I’ve had more than one salesman try tell me their welding is done by an “FAA certified welder”. The look on their face when I informed them that no such animal exists was priceless  I’ve also had several pilots and A&Ps (who should know better) try to tell me about “FAA certified welders”….I politely spell it out for them – A W S
Tom”

Builder Pete Chmura writes:

“Coffee Stout will change your life.”

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On the story of: Randy Bush’s Pietenpol hits 500 hours.

Ken and Pat Caldwell write:

“WE HAVE KNOWN RANDY BUSH ALL OF HIS LIFE.  WE ADMIRE HIS SKILL AND PATIENCE GREATLY AND ENJOY HIS SKILL WITH A PIECE OF HIS WORKMANSHIP IN OUR HOME. KEN AND PAT CALDWELL”

DAR/ builder Jon Ross writes:

“Dear William: I have never met Randy Bush but I have met a few like him as I travel around doing DAR work. Although I would rather be working on my own projects, I realized that I enjoy the DAR work because it gives me a chance to meet people like Randy. As you know, few people undertake airplane projects, and the chance of meeting special people such as you describe in Randy is greatly increased when traveling as a DAR. The special people are out there, and I try to stay in touch with them long after my job is done as a DAR because I am simply interested in where they want to go next…

Your philosophy with respect to creating things with your own hands is just as I have found it to be. I have a shop that is 45 minutes from where I live, but only 10 minutes from where I work. Naturally I spend a great deal of time in the evenings working in the shop. Sometimes, after a stressful day I have difficulty getting started. But I force myself on those days to change into my work clothes and get to it. It is never long before I am completely content working away at whatever the task at hand happens to be. Weekends are sometimes tough, because I am often called upon to assist friends with their airplanes, which I do with the full realization that I am really enjoying what I am doing. I am a loner, and a few years older than you (57 now) and I realize that for the most part I simply want to be left alone to work in my shop. When I travel around, I realize that there are people nearby who feel just as you and I do, in fact, many more exist than I once thought. I really do hope that these philosophical discussions will convince some of those sitting on the fence to get started on a life changing airplane project. Best, Jon Ross Northport, NY”

Zenith 650 builder Becky Shipman writes:

“William, Thank you for this thoughtful post.  I really identified with your last statement.  I have faced some very down times in my life, and difficult decisions.  Lately I think more about the times when I feel happy, and they have to do with certain types of experiences.  Flying does that for me – the combination of using knowledge and experience and physical feeling to feel competent.  I have felt that way winding up mountain roads on my bike at high speeds, and shaping metal on mills and lathes.  And there are times when I get into a groove when I’m building the plane, and feel competent and creative.  I occasionally feel that at work, but it’s more and more rare.  Sometimes I feel that when I get a concept across to one of my kids, like when I taught my son to drive stick.  The biggest thing I learned in some of my ..er.. more extensive changes in life is that it is OK to take a calculated risk.  That’s what flying and homebuilding is to me.  I  think I will be happier when I feel I can move on from the breadwinner role to a life where I can make and teach and fly.  I turn 55 in a couple of months – burning my hand and having my back go out have given me the feeling that life is finite – and I want to have my experiences while I still can.  So for all that you feel you are flawed, we all are, and your example of pursuing your dream is as much a gift as your development of the Corvair airplane engine.  I’m guessing that might be part of what Grace sees in you, and ScoobE will always tolerate you as long as Grace does….Becky”

builder “Jacksno” writes:

“Excellent FC philosophy and model thereof.  Do  look forward to more than a story if possible,  Something more like at least a 5 part story in 100 hour (50 much better) increments that documents the history of decision making, results analysis, decision making, etc. This would be invaluable for us tychos. Go Fly Corvair.”

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On the story of: Pietenpol Box Spar Construction, 6/27/13

Builder Allen Oliver writes:

“William: I can see where people perhaps may be misled concerning spar placement and loading by not examining all the variables.  On a moderately cambered airfoil straight and level in a low-speed environment, the center of pressure MIGHT be around the 40% chord.  If the aim is to even out the spar loads, placing one at 15% (-25%) and the other at 65% (+25%) could at first glance seem to do the job.  The pitfall is that the actual center of pressure location is highly variable, according to the airfoil shape.  More than that, IT MOVES.  As the angle of attack increases, the center of pressure moves forward.  This puts more loading on the forward spar. In addition, the lift loads are no longer perpendicular to the original bending axis. Just some extraneous thoughts for the mix. Regards, Allen Oliver”

Builder John Edwards writes:

“On the subject of spar loads, you do not need to be an engineer, nor have a degree in aeronautics to know the front spar carries most of the load. Just a little common sense.
Stick your hand out the window of your car and play airplane. You can feel most of the load is up near the front of your hand by your fingertips. It is that simple.”

Pietenpol builder Harold Bickford writes:

“William, Just for the exercise I calculated out the weight estimates of the various spar types (full span) for both Douglas Fir and Spruce. I used 34#/cu ft for DF, 28#/cu ft for spruce and 15# for a 4′x8″ sheet of 1/8″ birch ply. Actual weights of course can vary. The numbers below are for Spruce and Spruce/ply for the UK type In terms of weight the 3/4″ solid plank runs about 40lbs for front and rear sets. The routed 1″ beam would be about 2# lighter (calculated) while the UK type spar would be calculated at about 2# heavier. Clearly fabrication of the 3/4″ blank is easiest and it works. The cost differential was around $140 for materials. It is hard to beat what has been tried and proven though a properly engineered box spar or the extruded aluminum type is interesting to consider. -Harold”

Builder Doug Wright writes:

“William,It has been awhile since I have studied the subject, but one of the things I remember that has not been mentioned in the discussion about the design of Pietenpol spars is the distribution of pressure on the wing.  As I am sure you are aware, these pressures vary with angle of attack and are used in the calculations to determine the worst-case loadings on individual spars.  Why I mention this is because another variable that affects spar design is that these pressure distributions will be different from one airfoil to the next.  With both Mr. Pietenpol’s original design and the Riblett 612 airfoil being popular these days, a few years ago I ran the profiles for both through X-Foil and, as I recall, the pressure distributions were similar but not exactly the same.  Based on these software-derived numbers, I remember that after performing the calculations for the front spar worst-case loadings, there is a 4-5% difference depending on which airfoil is used.  Something like 75% of total load for one compared to 80% for the other.  Don’t ask me which was which or even if these numbers are accurate because I don’t have the calculations in front of me.  Would this make much difference in the load factor of a wing?  Not much, but I think it is important builders know there is a difference and if they choose to experiment with some other airfoil it may make a significant difference.

In looking at the cross sections of the traditional Piet spars and the PFA approved Jim Wills design there is not much difference in the moment of inertia of the solid portion of the spars where the lift struts and attach/cabane fittings connect.  Where a form factor must be applied when performing stress calculations on the rest of the spar, that is a different matter.  But, it looks to me that Mr. Wills moved the lift strut attach points outboard to reduce the length of the portion of the wing that is cantilevered.  This, of course, would reduce the bending moment on the wing at the lift strut attach points and would allow for the PFA approved 1200 Lb. gross weight with the same load factor as Mr. Pietenpol’s original, lower gross weight design.  Mr. Pietenpol’s empirically derived design was absolute genius but Mr. Wills must have recognized that people now days are a lot heavier and want to carry more fuel thus the airframe should be modified to accommodate those facts.  If someone builds Mr. Pietenpol’s original lift strut attach point design, they need to be cognizant of the fact that the load factor of the airplane is reduced at the heavy gross weights people are flying them. Doug Wright Stillwater, OK”

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More mail on various topics:

Zenith builder in Haiti  Howard Horner writes:

“Hi William. Just wanted to drop a note to let you know I have entered the game, but must confess it is not exactly as you recommend. (1# bad.) I bought a1963 145CU IN core complete with turbo that I cannot use, for $150. (#2 bad) Traded it to a happy Corvair guy for a big basket of “cherry Picked” 110HP block parts and 95 heads with smaller quench zone. (Interested in the Avgas option w/ possible future turbo or Supercharger.) He promises to provide any incidentals we may have missed and I am anxiously waiting to receive your disassemble manual to learn what I did wrong and correct any deficiencies. The vindicating circumstance is that the turbo motor came in an antique red wagon that is selling on Ebay for $150-$300 plus shipping, so this transaction actually works in my building budget… basically zero! Be assured I am diligently studying your methods and as a result will no doubt benefit from a superior assembly, but equally important, I am 100% committed to supporting you guys that have invested so much by purchasing the Dan bearing, Falcon head work, and all the Gold parts.  Thanks, Howard”

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Parting Shot, from Zenith 650 Builder Brian Manlove:

“William – I am finally back in my shop working on the 650.  I have read all of your posts and the one that prompted me to respond was the one about your brother.  I have a similar, but different, take on this – my *younger* brother Magnus.  In the last 25 years, we have not seen each other much, him with 3 kids, me with 3 kids, always living 1200 miles away from each other, and both of us always too busy with work. As you know, I was in a pretty bad motorcycle accident this past December 2.  I was in ICU for three weeks.  Magnus came to Austin to see me in the hospital – and because he was staying at my home he saw what I called “my workshop.”  I remember him coming to the hospital to see me every day for a week – but I don’t remember saying much other than “hello.”  I was in pretty bad shape and on a lot of pain meds.   A couple of days after he went home I went into an episode of A-fib.  The doctors found clogged arteries and scheduled me for a triple bypass operation, as soon as I “recovered” from my other significant injuries. When I got home, it took another month to recover enough to get the bypass operation. That happened on Feb 8 and it took another 2 months to recover completely from that. My workshop is a double garage that had been converted into a recording studio by the previous owner.  There was a wall that split the space into 2 rooms.  I had knocked out a span of wall wide enough to get a workbench in there for wing building – but with all of my tools, parts, shipping crates, and way too much accumulated junk, it was really not functional at all. When I got home from my heart surgery, Magnus called me and told me he was going to come down to Austin for a week in June to help me “fix the workshop.” Magnus came and spent a week.  What he did for me was absolutely fantastic.  He spent 16 hours a day working… and pushing me… we ripped out old walls, we re-wired, we built shelving, we built workbenches, he helped me decide what to toss and what to keep, and then the final touch – he surprised me with a beautiful epoxy paint job on the floor.  He gave me a gift that is beyond words. I now have an absolutely fantastic first-class workshop. All he wants in return is to see me finish my airplane. There is nothing like a brother. – Brian Manlove”