The Value of “Showing up”

Builders ,

We are now starting a new year in aviation. In another week, I will put up a schedule of Colleges and events for this flying season. We have many builders who will attend these events, travel to shows, and even make the pilgrimage to Oshkosh. They know what I leaned long ago: To make progress on your path in aviation, you can’t just sit at home and wait, you have to “Show up”.  

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Above, a favorite photo of mine is pinned to my shop wall with a red thumb tack:  Grace and I stand with our friend Gustl in front of his soviet AN-2 Biplane with a 1,000 hp radial. It was the winter of 2000. We decided to go ‘camping’ at a small antique fly-in. 66′ of wingspan with leading edge slats allowed us to fly this monster into the small strip carrying two pickup truck loads of coolers, a giant gas grill, lawn furniture, a picnic table and tents. Why did we go camping that weekend? Because we decided that when something good was in the works, we were going to show up for it, not hear about it later. 

( This is the aircraft from this story: Thinking of Mike Holey, an Aviator and a friend. )

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365 days in this year, and 5 of them have already gotten away. 368 days ago I wrote this story: 2015 Your year in aviation? Did you read it? Did you promise yourself that you were going to make this one count, but instead settled for another trip around the sun looking Facebook memes and watching ridiculously partisan TV election news?

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After 28 seasons in flying, I know what changes the heading from stagnation to inspiration: Simply Showing Up. Almost all of the good things I have ever done in aviation came after my awareness that aviation doesn’t happen inside one’s house, that aviation will call you, but it doesn’t send a limo with a gold plated invitation, and there is nothing like being present, in the company of good people, when aviation is taking place in reality, not at Unicorn international airport in Cyberville, to motivate you to aggressively pursue your own goals and dreams.

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Want an example? My friends thought the drive to Leeward air ranch in Ocala was too far from Daytona Beach, but I didn’t the day this happened: From The Past: With Steve Wittman 20 years ago today. Our events in 2017 will come, and they will go, this is inalterable; builders, real,  positive, traditional builders will come to these events and have a great time, just as they have in the past. The only variable is if you will join us, or just read about it later. Take your pick, it’s your life.

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As of tonight, we have four slots left for Corvair College #39: 19 more spaces for CC#39, Barnwell SC, March 2017. We have had this college sign up open for 6 months. It is a big college, but there was a time where I thought Colleges might fill up in a week. What I learned over time was there are many people who profess to love homebuilding, but far fewer you practice that faith. Since the events are free, I have no monetary stake in the attendance, since I have been in aviation a very long time, I already have a lifetime supply of friends, and many of them will be there. However, if your personal motivation in aviation needs a course correction, decide now, that you will show up and make your year in aviation one to be remembered.

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Parting thought:

One of our builders sent me a link to a tread on the homebuilt biplane forum. The subject was a guy saying he was thinking about putting a Corvair on a biplane. In spite of a couple of guys writing in to say they had Seen Jim Weseman’s Celebrity fly and it worked well, and others pointing out they had seen Corvairs fly Piet’s at Brodhead, There were a half dozen super negative comments by people so proud of their thoughts they were unwilling to use their full names. Two of the commentators address boxes showed they had made more than 5,000 comments on that forum alone. Want to know what their home airport is? It’s Unicorn international, where nothing real ever happens.

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-ww.

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Values of my Father

Builders;

On the eve of my Father’s 91st birthday, a story to share some of the values my Father instilled in us.

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Above, Sun ‘N Fun 2006,  My Father and I, in front of a Grumman F8F Bearcat, a serious piece of hardware from my father’s era of Naval aviation. My father entered the U.S. Navy in 1943 and is USNA Class of 1949. He served on active duty for 33 years.

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I was walking among rows of warbirds with my Father at Sn n Fun 2006. An acquaintance from EAA chapter 288, the Spruce Creek FL. chapter approached my father and introduced himself. The chapter likely has the most affluent membership in the EAA.  I was president of 288 from 2000-2003, and was jokingly called “Our token poor guy.”

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The man wanted to speak with my Father about just one thing: He wanted to say how much he admired that I refused to engage in any legal activity or sue anyone after my accident in 2001. I was not PIC, and on the day of the accident, I went back to the wreckage to extract the pilot who had been knocked unconscious. When the plane caught on fire, it lit my gasoline soaked clothes, and I ended up seriously burned on 40% of my body.  The FAA made the pilot take a check ride afterwards, indicating they had questions about his performance. I had a number of fellow chapter members tell me that I was being foolish to not sue the PIC. Some people when as far as suggesting their lawyer. I was never going to do this, because my Father raised us to understand there were such things as honest mistakes, and I understood the risks before I got in the plane. The PIC had apologized, even traveled to my parents home in NJ to express this to them in person. In my fathers world, and by extension mine, the matter was over.

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The acquaintance at Sun n Fun knew this part of the story, and only wanted to tell my Father how much he admired my decision to drop the matter, even when many people openly said I was “an idiot” for not “cashing in.”  My father listened until the man was finished, and then in a cool tone simply said “My son doesn’t need your, nor anyone’s praise for merely behaving as everyone should.”

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The man was not expecting this, and I hope he latter understood that it was precisely my Father’s unambiguous code of ethics, one that dictated that ethical behavior was done simply because it was right, and any expectation of reward, even as small as public praise, reduced the action to a child’s understanding of right and wrong. My Fathers code didn’t care if everyone else was doing it and even if society was rewarding them, it was still wrong.  We were to be individuals, and as such, we were not to look to the herd to see what could be gotten away with, nor were we to expect the smallest of rewards for better actions.

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By the time I was in junior high school, it was readily apparent that most of the world didn’t have the same code as my father, the Naval officer with a sign on his desk that said “When principle is involved, be deaf to expediency”.  There were a great number of times in my childhood that I longed for a little more flexibility that might find an easier path. It was only as an adult that I came to appreciate the fact that you can have most things taken away in life, but the things that matter, to lose these, you have to give them away or sell them, and if you did, you would really have nothing left.

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If I have ever come across as inflexible or harsh, I ask only that the person first consider if it is a matter of principle, such as safety in aviation. In those cases, many people might like a different answer, but they will not get one from me. They don’t realize they are asking me to go against my father’s values.  Such people frequently suspect that I am judgmental about people who live differently, but I’m not. If I was, it would be an indication that I had the expectation of society’s approval, which in itself is a reward, and if people need a reward for doing the right things, then it really doesn’t count as ethical.

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To understand more about my father, a 2014 story: 

William Wynne Sr. Turns 89 today

and

Patriotism has no Party

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-ww.

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Would you rather be friends with a turtle or win an academy award?

Builders,

Would you rather be friends with a turtle or win an academy award? Simple question, and understand it or not, homebuilders will make this decision in 2017.

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2017 will be my 28th year of working with Corvair engines. Over this length of time, it has always been my approach to share “Old and Proven” with builders, all based on slow methodical development and extensive testing. In the last 28 years had many people criticize this slow evolution, saying that they were going to promote “New and Exciting” things. Most of those people and their companies are long gone, and a handful of them are no longer alive. They took a lot of peoples money with them, ended a lot of dreams, and took far to many lives. Crack open any sport aviation from the 1990s, and you will see my ads in the classifieds. I am essentially the only company left, still under the same ownership. That doesn’t mean I am a genius, it means I am just dumb enough to not know when to quit, and if you combine that with slow steady development, you get somewhere in 28 years.

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So that is the turtle part of the question, but what about the academy award? that sounds better. Drama comes from people making poor choices that result in exciting flying. When I got started, poor advice to new builders was limited to people at the builders airport. ( see:A visit to the insane asylum ) However, since Al gave us the internet, a new builder can get his poor advice from the biggest fool on the planet with a keyboard.

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Like some examples? Years ago, one of the most prolific ‘contributors’ to the big Corvair internet group vehemently argued that if a person put a snowmobile carb and a set of headers on a 2700 cc Corvair it would make 750 pounds of thrust. (he belatedly said the load cell was a rope tying it to a van). The same group has a guy in Africa who argued that people should use six motorcycle ignitions from a 1970s Honda instead of the distributor I make, get this…because he knew it would be more reliable. The same group had an engineer give a long series of dissertations about cowl inlet sizes for stol aircraft, with a beautiful calculation showing the area of the inlet, the density of air on a standard day. and the volume of air ingested at 50 mph. It was universally applauded…..to bad no one pointed out that there is this thing right in front of the inlet called the propeller, and it tends to accelerate air backwards into the inlets, and a Stol airplane generally has a 120+ mph slipstream over the cowl in a 50 mph climb. Mind you all of this advice was offered by people with little or no experience with Corvair powered planes. The people who listened to them had a hard time distinguishing between two animals: Unicorns vs Ponies.

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Looking back over the last 15 years of this, a small fraction of the internet experts ever took their ideas flying to see them fail, but they did convince a lot of people to “wait and see” how it turned out, or to start their engine assembly around poor ideas. These people had a really high rate of quitting when it became apparent the one line gurus they were following didn’t know much about the engine. So the choice for 2017 is simple: If you want to get to have your own trouble free story like this: Ken Pavlou’s Zenith 601XL hits 500 hours.  or this: Woody’s 2,850cc Corvair/601XL hits 400 hours. or a drama free test period like this:Brent Mayo’s Flying 3,000 cc Panther , decide that in 2017 you are going to become a follower of the slow and steady progress of the turtle.

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The alternative of course is to look for something on the internet that promises to yield much better results than anything that we have demonstrated with the conservative long-run approach. Just as you decide that going the proven path is the right choice for you, my experience has shown plenty of others will seek something ‘better’ in cyberspace. If you want to really understand that mindset, read this story: Waiting for the bus from Unicorntown to Cyberville

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A good number of the people headed for “new and exciting” secretly hope to “show everyone” how clever they are. In their heads they are practicing a not so gracious speech, just like the academy awards night, where they will be able to tell everyone just how smart they are for not restricting their project to the proven paths. I am pretty sure several hundred people must have done this in the last 28 years, but the closest anyone has come to giving the speech had to include a lot of drama about broken parts and off airport landings…..which were obviously someone else’s fault.

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Above, Prepping Paul’s Panther for it’s third flight. As the photo shows, it is still perfect VFR tee shirt weather down here in Florida, in spite of Christmas being 14 days away. Although it was carefully inspected, absolutely nothing had to be adjusted or changed for the flight. This is professionalism. Is there anyone who really believes that if you build your Corvair and install it according to suggestions from the internet, that the results will be this drama free? The answer is Yes, there are people who believe that fantasy, even though they have no reason, beyond wishful thinking, to think so.

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Above is a take off, filmed this morning, of Paul Salter’s 3,000cc Panther. Absolutely no drama. This is the way flying should be, but often people who chose to listen to internet experts or local engine guys get very different results. Often what sounded good as a new builder, reading internet discussion groups, no longer seems so cool when you are sitting in the cockpit alone, looking at the first flight. The trick is being able to picture that you don’t want that kind of drama, all the way back when you are getting started. Thinking about this early on, and making decisions to follow the proven path from square one will not only speed up your building, it will switch your learning provider from internet people to the guy who has been doing this for 28 years. Take your pick.

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“I have watched many of the same people get taken in by a new ‘revolutionary!’ idea every few years, never seeing that they would have been long flying if they had just given up on ‘new revolutionary!’ products with lottery ticket odds of success, and instead embraced the philosophy of proven designs with a track record in place of a promise. They will be waiting there in another 10 years because that bus isn’t ever going to come. The rainbow bus line from Unicorntown doesn’t have a stop on reality street, it only is headed to cyberville, and there is no airport in cyberville.” -ww, 2013

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Above, a snapping turtle goes about his business yesterday on the loop road of our airpark. They are civil, but capable of, and disposed to removing the fingers of overly forward humans. They can live over 100 years. We also have their really anti-social cousins, the alligator snapping turtle .

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If you would like to read another perspective piece, give this a read: Turtles and Cell Phones, 6/24/13.

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-ww.

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Corvair Thermal Image Testing

Builders

Here is a quick look at a tool that Corvair/Panther builder Paul Salter, Dan Weseman and myself employ to collect data. It is a HD thermal imaging video camera which Paul has linked to store the images and video for analysis. The tests shown below on Paul’s  3,000 cc Panther engine were just to calibrate the equipment and evaluate using the scissors lift as a stable platform for an overhead view of the running engine. This is just a quick look to demonstrate another tool we use here. The long term plan is to integrate the camera into my run stand, so we can look at sustained high power runs, and Paul as a cable set up he can feed through his oil door in the cowl to connect the 1″ camera to a tablet in his cockpit.

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Above, when you want something stable that will not blow around, the scissors lift in Paul’s hangar does the trick, it has racks of batteries in the bottom and weighs thousands of pounds. Paul is using a ratchet strap to secure the tripod.

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Above, this is what the arrangement looked like from the lift. We had just finished a short run, and the video camera was still looking at the engine. KEEP IN MIND: this isn’t a new engine, it has 200 hours on it. A new engine should never be run without a cowl or airbox even for 1 minute. I tried to upload a 1 minute film to demonstrate how fast the engine, even a broken in one, heats up without a cowl, but the data file is excessively large. Take my word for it, without a cowl, the temp comes up much faster than you would think, and the thermal camera confirmed that without a cowl top or airbox, very little air flows through the engine. In the image it is very easy to see how cool the welded on intake pipes stay on the heads (because they have cool air and evaporating gas flowing through them) The camera can pick up temp differences down to 1 degree.

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Above, we live and work in the total aviation immersion environment. I looked up for a moment to shoot our neighbors Piper taking off. Paul’s hangar is at mid-field, Mine is 600′ south, and Dan and Rachel’s place is another 1,200′ south on the overrun. Our little grass airstrip has about 50 hangars and 100 aircraft. All the work on the airstrip, from mowing the grass, fixing the tractor, keeping the irrigation and drainage up, filing the paperwork, maintaining the lights, etc,  is  100% done by neighborhood volunteers. We all contribute $25 a month to the airport fund, and believe it or not, we run a large budget surplus in a typical year. As you can tell by the tractors and trucks in yards, and the stories of shooting .50BMG rifles, it is not your typical rule burdened airport. Dirt bikes are more common than golf carts here. For a look at the flying environment here, get a look at this story: 5 years ago today.

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Above, a slightly closer look at the camera. The image is a lot better than this photo captures. We were later blowing it up to look at individual cylinder fins. Even in this picture you can see the cooler plug wires and the bolt heads on the top cover. Notice the dip stick can be seen as a cool spot. The scale on the color range is on the bottom of the screen.

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You can look at Paul’s plane at this link: Paul’s Panther. He is an aerospace engineer for the US Navy, a 15 year specialist on the EA-6B program. Paul’s education is a Masters degree from Americas oldest aviation university, Parks. If you would like some insight into Dan Weseman’s background look at this: Panther Roll out. Mesh those two with my grease monkey story: Who is William Wynne? and you get an overview of how we stay ahead of technical topics here. One of our strengths is that we like to argue. We don’t think the same, and none of our approaches nor backgrounds overlap a lot. This is a big asset, even if it doesn’t always sound that way to spectators. The one thing we have in common is a trust of testing over discussion, and a respect for letting the facts have the last word.  I have long found that “guru’s” who work alone, never have their pet theories challenged, but it took me 20 years of working in aviation to fully understand that many of these same people specifically chose to work alone, because they don’t like listening to others, nor even conceding that others may be right.

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Conversely,  since day one, I have lived by the motto “I reserve the right to get smarter”, and this is done by listening to others and getting past the idea that you have all the right answers. Next time you are reading a website, look for the part where they guy tells you what he learned from others. I’m not speaking of a guy citing sources from ‘experts’ to prove how right he was all along, I am speaking about actual mechanical humility. It isn’t common enough,  If it is missing, you have an important insight into the person’s handicap: They have a learning disability, specifically  the inability to learn from others. -ww.

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Thought for the Day: The Face of Courage.

Builders:

It is first light now, a chilly morning here in Florida, but I have been awake for several hours reading about the mercury astronauts. They were great Americans, and we still generate that kind of person here, and you as a person who has chosen to build and fly your own aircraft are among the breed. The element that has changed in 50 years is the setting, the national understanding of what is worthy of or collective admiration. To illustrate this, read the paragraph below from a 1959 Life magazine introducing the Mercury Seven. The last sentence speaks of why we found these men and their decision to be worthy of our national respect:

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“Some fine early morning before another summer has come, one man chosen from the calmly intent seven . . . will embark on the greatest adventure man has ever dared to take. Dressed in an all-covering suit to protect him from explosive changes in pressure, strapped into a form-fitting couch to cushion him against the crushing forces of acceleration, surrounded in his tiny chamber by all manner of instruments designed to bring him safely home, he will catapult upward at the head of a rocket for more than 100 miles and then plunge down into the Atlantic Ocean. If he survives, he will be come the heroic symbol of a historic triumph; he will be the first American, perhaps the first man, to be rocketed into the dark stillness of space. If he does not survive, one of his six remaining comrades will go next.”

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If you went to a high school today, what percentage of students could be made to understand the phrase “A dedication to duty that meant more than life itself”.  Can you think of any person, celebrity, politician, sports figure, that is on the national awareness, that would meet such a measure of character? In 2016, I saw a lot of people with hats and bumper stickers that said “Make America Great Again”. Because I believe it is bigotry to think you know everything about an individual because you perceive him to be in a group that fits some label, I don’t assume I know that persons vision of the slogan. Nobody asked, but my personal image of making America great again would start with returning to our national admiration and attention being focused on Americans who are worthy of it.

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Even if this does not come to pass, I still can hold these values in my own life, and choose to spend my hours in the company of those who do. It was been one of the great rewards of my working life, that aviators, and particularly homebuilders, understand and respect the values of courage and dedication, at a rate many times higher than the general public. People who build and fly their own plane, and who are truly the master of it, not merely it’s owner, are living examples of the values that defined the better part of this country 50 years ago. -ww. 

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“If we die we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.” – Gus Grissom.

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From my story, 30 years since the loss of the Challenger:

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I have very strong objections to our National air and Space Museum being called the “Udvar-Hazy Center”. Steven Udvar-Hazy’s only contribution to aviation is manipulating the leasing of commercial aircraft to make himself a billionaire. His $66 million contribution to the museum sounds big until you realize that it was only 1.5% of his estimated net worth.

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No National landmark in this country should be named for people who donated money.  It is as demeaning as naming the Lincoln Memorial the ‘Walmart memorial’. It is un-American to measure the value of a man by the thickness of his wallet. It is for precisely this reason that Americans triumphed in flight. Our system recognized and advanced the best, brightest and courageous. It placed no value on class, connection or wealth.

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If the Air and Space museum is to be named for the highest bidder, I can think of 100 names off the top of my head like, Sijan, Grissom, Loring, Scobee, Luke, Husband….American Aviators who gave 100% of everything they had or would ever have for this country, paying a price that makes any financial contribution meaningless.

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Why Bother? (2011)

I stood in my front yard two days ago to watch the last Launch of the Space Shuttle. It was very moving to think about the 30 years of the program, years that have spanned my adult life. “Land of the free and home of the brave” are the end of our National Anthem, but who personifies this? For my choice, I think of Astronauts. I have friends who work in the space program, and they all acknowledge that despite the risks, there is no shortage of very qualified people to go.  I can remember the exact spot where I was in Florida the day The Challenger was lost. I have been to their monument on the hillside above the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.  Before their flight, they were briefed that their odds of perishing were between 1/300 and 1/20. They went anyway, not because they were gamblers, but because they know that some things were worth doing even if they brought a very high risk of death. From the Challenger monument, it is a short walk to JFK’s grave. In 1962 he answered the question of “Why bother?” on the subject of Space flight:

“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

When JFK said these words, he only had about 400 days left to live. Almost all of the people reading this have far more time left here. Question is, what will you do with it? Will you succumb to a “Why Bother?” mentality that seeks out false paths because they appear to require less learning and thinking? If the goal of a seafaring captain was to preserve the ship, he would never leave port. If someone’s goal is to save money and learn as little as possible, I humbly suggest that experimental aviation will prove to be a very frustrating and potentially very dangerous path. If “Why Bother” is such a person’s personal credo, they are never going to get any of the rewards while simultaneously taking astounding unnecessary risks. “Why bother” is much better matched to watching TV than building and flying planes.

I am 48 now, and I am past the halfway point. The exact length of the trip and the destination are unknown, but the road of memories behind get inexorably longer. Is it time to slow down, and ask “Why Bother?” Of course not. Anyone reading this has been lucky enough to be born one of the .1% of the people on this planet who has any hope of building something with their own hands and flying it, a dream so bold that it was beyond the reach of any person who every lived on this planet a mere 110 years ago. I am smarter than I was last year; I have learned more, I have honed my skills in the workshop and in the air. Aviation offers a near limitless arena in which to expand your life, to willfully choose the difficult and rewarding over the easy and complacent. This increase of capability and control that is the reward for honest striving and effort is the only substitute I have found for the nostalgia for a fading youth. I will never run a 5:30 mile again, never do 50 consecutive chin ups again, nor a number of other physical milestones from age 24. But I am a much better craftsman, pilot and person than I was then. Experimental aviation is the setting where I will find out how much I can study, understand and master in my life, not how little. For anyone else who feels the same way, I look forward to reading anything you have to say, seeing anything you have built, and being there when you arrive in your plane to a welcome of people who understand what is worth aggressively pursuing in life.  -ww.

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John Glenn, Aviator from an era of heroic deeds, passes.

Builders,

For the next day or two, there will be brief stories in the news about the passing of John Glenn. To younger Americans, it will seem something of a mystery why this old man mattered. Tonight I actually feel sorry for these younger people, because they have spent all of their lives saturated in a consumer mass media that convinced them that celebrities and wealthy people are ‘heroes” to be admired.

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mercury_test_pilots-1.jpg

Standing beside a Convair F106-B aircraft in a January 1961 photograph are the nation’s Project Mercury astronauts. Left to right, are M. Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Walter M. Schirra Jr., Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton.
Credits: NASA

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Above, the ‘Mercury Seven’; Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper,Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter,  with an F-106. They were selected from hundreds of candidates. While the film “The Right Stuff” questioned if they were actually quintessential aviators, five decades showed that without question they were great Americans, men we can all be proud of. Such people still exist, but in a consumer driven society, attention and admiration are driven to ‘personalities’ which support marketing.

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John Glenn, the last living Mercury Seven astronaut, was an actual hero from a time when Americans understood that no celebrity ‘talent’ nor accumulation of wealth was to be admired, the only thing that should qualify an American for the admiration of his fellow countrymen was a supreme act of courage or will, in the face of mortal danger. Such a deed could advance our national mission,  morals or ethics, or it could simply be a selfless act out of love for a fellow human, it was not for sale, no one could buy it, and there was no skill that could be falsely elevated to compare to it. By this measure, John Glenn’s life was Heroic.

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If you want to understand the transition point in American culture from the admiration of actual heroes to admiring wealth, let me present a simple two minute film of a very famous, but little seen debate speech. In a primary election, A wealthy businessman Howard Metzenbaum, believed in the post Vietnam era he could score political points by deriding John Glenn’s military record and NASA service as “Never having held a real Job” The video below covers John Glenn responding:

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On that day, The values of John Glenn, the admiration of “A dedication to duty that meant more than life itself”, prevailed. But in time, our society was lead away from admiring such beliefs. I feel sorry for any young person who has been told that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is worth admiring, or should even be mentioned in the same breath as John Glenn. This country has produced, and still produces humans well worth the admiration of all of their fellow countrymen, but evidently too many people believe that we can’t have such people in national leadership. It is my great hope that I will live to see this corrected. Even if it never is, I know what makes a person admirable and heroic, and the life of John Glenn will always meet that standard. -ww.

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I suggest Trump admirers read the books “Faith of my Fathers”(McCain), “When Hell was in Session” (Denton) “The Passing of the Night”(Risner) and  “In Love and War“(Stockdale) to understand the kind of Americans he has no respect for because they were POWs. He said it, it was never apologized for,  it in my book, that actually makes him pathetic. Trump stated that building his wealth was his ‘service’ to our country. Contrast this with the life of Floyd Thompson, America’s longest held POW, who returned after 9 years to a family who didn’t know him, nightmares, divorce, alcoholism, a coma and a stroke, medical discharge and isolation. Yet he never spoke a single negative word about our country, the Army or his fate. He died alone at age 69.

I suggest HRC admirers read the 1997 NYT article below. It explains how the body of Larry Lawrence, a giant fundraiser for the Clintons, had to be exhumed from Arlington National Cemetery, because it was revealed that his entire war record and military service record was fabricated. Bill Clinton had gotten a special exemption to have him buried there, and he was warned in advance that Lawrence was probably lying, but to the Clintons, it wasn’t a reason not to pay back a donor. Glenn will likely be buried at Arlington; Risner and Denton are already there, along with the Challenger Astronauts. One day McCain will join his father and Grandfather there, and one day my own father will rest there, and I greatly prefer that none of the people there were lying campaign contributors of the Clintons.

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Made in USA: .50BMG – ‘When you care enough to send the hairy beast.’

Builders;

Continuing in our ‘Made in America’ series, I present the Barrett single shot bolt action, chambered in .50 Browning Machine Gun (BMG), a classic cartridge that John Browning designed 97 years ago, which is still in current US military service today. Originally conceived of as an anti-tank round in 1919, it was the standard aircraft cartridge of the US in WWII. The rounds we fired in my back yard today were AP rounds loaded to 13,000 ft/lbs of energy. That is more than ten times what a 5.56 NATO packs. It was an interesting experience in ballistics and metallurgy.

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Above the Barrett, with one round laying under it. It weighed about 25 pounds. 13K pounds of energy on a rifle this light would not be manageable without a muzzle brake (the device on the end of the barrel) which deflects gasses backwards to remove most of the felt recoil. It honestly wasn’t that bad, roughly like a 3-1/2″ 12 gauge magnum shell in an 870.

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Above, Size comparison: The .50BMG is the second from the left; next is a .30-06, a 5.56 NATO, and a .22LR. The large item is a 37mm Vickers “pom-pom” round from WWI. It was personally brought back from the trenches of France by my grandfather, pictured here: A clarification and a century old story. If you look closely, it is engraved to say “Verdun 1918”.

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Above a 6 second video of shooting a steel flywheel in front of an aluminum plate. As a pair, the weigh more than 100 pounds, but the round flips them over.  My neighbor Ryan at the trigger, Vern is speaking in the background.
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Above, a steel flywheel from a GM-6.5L diesel. The first shot went right through a section 1.375″ thick. The second round is pictured, which went through the flywheel, then penetrated 1.5″ of 2024 aluminum, but retreated about an inch. This was the shot pictured in the video.  Picture a P-51 Mustang with six browning M-2’s firing a three second burst: that is 250 rounds just like the one above. If you know how aircraft are built, it is unimaginable how any opposing fighter could withstand that. Look closely and see the bullet is just slightly deformed.

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At the start of WWII, most of the worlds fighter aircraft used .30 rifle ammunition, with a tiny fraction of this power, as standard armament. In the US, an outspoken visionary of airpower, Alexander P. de Seversky, stated that all US fighters should have 2,000HP and eight .50BMG guns. This was considered outrageous, but the P-47 was his brainchild, and he essentially understood the concept of a “fighter-bomber” long before others. Looking in person at what a few single rounds can do against metals gives great understanding of why light armored vehicles and locomotives stood little chance against strafing with .50BMG.

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Above, a look at the 2.375″ thick plate. The fist round had no problem cutting straight through the aluminum, and the front 8″ of wood in the backstop. The second hole is 1.5″ deep, and this was after it had gone through the flywheel in front of it. It gives perspective on why six .50BMG guns was still considered plenty of firepower for F-86’s to shoot down 792 MiG-15s in Korea. I have personally worked on MiG-15’s and there isn’t any structural material in one that a .50BMG couldn’t cut right through, and the plane has an enormous amount of single point failure hoses, etc.

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Above, a look at an American made rifle, using an American designed cartridge, which has long played a part in our history. As interesting as this was, it was not lost on us that today was the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and countless Americans, then and since, have faced terrible hours in the presence of .50BMG gunfire. It is a small comfort to understand that our nation had designers, engineers, craftsmen and warriors who had the understanding, capability and presence of mind to equip our forces a superior and reliable cartridge that played a role in their success and return home.

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-ww.

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