New Photos of JAG-2, a Corvair powered twin.

Builders,

A while back we shared the story of Jim and Ginger (JaG) Tomaszewski’s twin-engine project. You can read the original story in Jim’s words at this link:

JAG-2, Corvair Powered Twin, Jim Tomaszewski, N.Y.

Jim just sent in two more photos of his progress, seen below.

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Above, a look at the wing extension. Having the engine on the wing is a ‘releving load’ on the wing spar, much in the same way that tip tanks are. Even though the wing is extended, it may feel no higher bending load at the root.

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There was a time when the EAA was made of builders, when a guy like Jim was still a stand out, but his work and motivation to create would have been understood by any EAA member. We still have plenty of people like that, but we now have a more ‘inclusive’ EAA membership and a management to go with them, that often seems to forget what the first word in the acronym EAA stands for.

 In the Corvair movement we have never lost our respect for the dedicated craftsman willing to put forth the extra effort to design, test, and fly his own creation, to build something really original. To my perspective, you do not have to build an original design to be a ‘real homebuilder.’ I think that the guy who builds a good Zenith, RV, Sonex or Rans that is the mechanical equivalent of other proven examples of his design is just as much a homebuilder as Jim, and I think Jim would agree with that.

The distinction to me is easier made on this dividing line: If you are the kind of builder that supports Jim’s right and passion to develop his own unique machine, even if it is not something you would choose for yourself, or even a design that you appreciate or fully understand, then you are a real homebuilder. You understand that at the very core of homebuilding is individual choice, challenge and achievement, something that we each should be able to pursue on a path of our own choosing.

I expect people from outside aviation to miss the point of home building. I can even see a person from a far branch of flight not ‘getting’ a project like Jim’s. But if a person in the EAA would criticise or seek to restrict the freedom to do original designs, I believe they forfeit the right to call themselves a ‘homebuilder.’

Such a person is too dull to see the connection that leads from Jim’s plane, through Dan and his Panther, through countless creative craftsmen. It is the same compelling force that was present with the Wright’s at Kitty hawk.  Any person who suggests that we should all build O-320 powered RV-6a’s and that flying them in regular patterns at controlled airports is homebuilding, has missed why Americans wrote much of the history of aviation, they have missed what homebuilding is about, and they understand nothing about being an individual. Their self-inflicted punishment is that they live in a ‘safer’ but far lesser world,  a place that traded Heros and Champions for living in fear and hoping for a tiny bit of safety increase.

At it’s very core, homebuilding has the power to liberate you from allowing thoughts like that to creep into your mind. If you are going to spend thousands of hours building a machine to seek your own freedom, then it makes sense to start by rejecting anyone who has a smaller deffiniton of freedom already picked out for you.-ww

Panther Roll out.

Builders:

Saturday was a good day in the history of Corvair powered aircraft. Dan and Rachel Weseman had the first public roll out of the Panther. It is now about 21 days from its first flight. Only minor details and a final FAA inspection remain.  The weight and Balance on the aircraft revealed a very light 688 pound empty weight, and the location was exactly on target. The power to weight ratio of this aircraft with its 120 hp Corvair will provide outstanding performance. Couple this with Dan’s higher than typical aspect ratio selection and a demonstrated ability of the wing to take more than 9 G’s, and we will see the kind of flying that one rarely associates with terms like ‘LSA legal’ and ‘automove conversion engine.’

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Our local EAA chapter was invited to the roll out. As impressive as the plane itself is, a number of us on hand understood that the plane was just the physical evidence of one man’s incredibly strong-willed determination to exhaustively educate himself on all facets of aircraft design and manufacturing. Our chapter has an impressive collection of engineers from Americas top aviation schools, Embry-Riddle, Parks, USNA, etc. In speaking with them, each said that they were astounded at the depth of Dan’s self acquired understanding on all facets of this design, particularly his mastery of stress analysis and structures. Every single one of the engineers readily offered their formal training and industry experience gave them no better understanding of the subjects than Dan’s dogged self pursuit of the subjects.

In an era where it has sadly become acceptable for people who wish to be in aviation to publicly state that they really don’t want to learn anything, and there is an expanding array of consumer appliances to entertain such people, I find it a refreshing honor to know a man who set his personal goal on finding out how much he can learn and master, not how little. Dan may have been born in 1975, but his attitudes and will are from an earlier era when American aviators would accept no reason nor excuse for being diverted from their personal destiny to achieve. When JFK set Americans on the path to the moon in 1962, he directly stated:

“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.”

These attitudes are at the very core of being an American. We restore and sustain ourselves through their practice, our demise is through dismissing them as antiquated. I have been in aviation for 25 years, and in that time, I can think of no better example of example of an individual setting his personal goals on the highest levels of understanding and mastery, and then using these skills to create an outstanding aircraft with his own hands. If you have been told that aviation innovation and opportunity for achievement are not accessible, I suggest meeting Dan in person, he is the strongest proof that your destiny is only limited by your will. -ww

Read the rest of the roll out story at: http://flypanther.net/

JAG-2, Corvair Powered Twin, Jim Tomaszewski, N.Y.

Special Note to RV Builders: The section of the Van’s Airforce discussion group that showed just a few pictures and short descriptions of this aircraft generated thousands of hits before their list moderator banned the photos and deleted references to it, and put up his own negative comment. That list is operated as a commercial venture by Doug Reeves, a controversial personality who promotes a very conformist model of homebuilding and flying. He will delete your posts if they reference things he dislikes, often as simple as making a low pass. Last week, the tracking on our site showed that 220 RV builders on that site followed a link to come here and read my story 2,500 words about levels of aircraft finish… Reeves also deleted all of the links to that story to block RV builders from even referencing it. It was deemed too controversial because it included the single sentence “We were not the ones who decided that regular looking people and the planes they built were not cool enough to be on the cover of their own membership magazine. That one is on the Editors and the management of the EAA…” To my perspective, Reeves is a throwback to the type of aviation magazine editors of the 1980s and ’90s who worked to make sure only people they “approved of'” felt welcome in experimental aviation. RV builders are often unfairly characterized as uncreative conformists. Reeves’ actions unfortunately reinforce this stereotype. RV builders with open minds are welcome to come here and directly read unfiltered ideas.  -ww

Note: If any of the pictures are distorted, try hitting F5 at the top of your keyboard.

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Above, Jim and Ginger Tomaszewski in our booth at Oshkosh 2012. They are very interesting and dynamic people, a lot of fun in person. The computer in his hands shows a picture of their twin under construction. Over the years, we have had a handful of people look at building a Corvair twin, but none of them had the flight experience that Jim brings to his project. When pictures of this project were on the Van’s site, most of the commentary was kneejerk reactions, from people without 1% of Jim’s experience. The one standout comment of positive support was from the EAA director Chad Jensen, a real homebuilder we met at the Zenith open house. I like to think that Jim’s work is best appreciated here, where Corvair builders celebrate traditional homebuilding creativity and challenges. Below, Jim tells the story of the JAG-2 in his own words. …

TWIN JAG… a twin-engine Corvair powered aircraft project.

First, about myself…

My name is Jim Tomaszewski and I am a 46-year-old professional pilot. I live on the east end of Long Island, N.Y., with my lovely and VERY understanding wife Ginger. Although we have no children, we do have 2 Yorkies that are treated like our children. I rent a T-hangar at Mattituck Airport & own a hangar and property at Heaven’s Landing Airpark in Clayton, GA. We plan on moving full time to Heaven’s Landing (www.heavenslanding.com) and building our dream home in the near future. I live & breath aviation. If you MUST look up every time an aircraft flies over, aviation is in your blood! I feed my aviation addiction as a professional pilot and currently fly as a Captain on a Challenger 605 corporate jet. I am an ATP with type ratings in the Lear Jet, Falcon 50/900, Embraer Legacy, Gulfstream IV, Challenger 604/605 & Douglas DC-8. I have roughly 15,000 flight hours with over 14,000 of them in multi-engine aircraft. I have been interested in aviation since I was 4 years old after my first flight on a TWA 747. My dad is retired from TWA after working 37 years as a Sheet Metal Mechanic & Maintenance Inspector. I used to feed my budding aviation addiction by flying around the country using passes from my Dad! I was also an avid model aircraft builder. When I was 16 years old, I rode my bicycle to my local airport and took a $20 Discovery Flight in a C-152…I was HOOKED!!! I came home with a smile so big I needed plastic surgery to remove it from my face! I told my parents that I was going to be a pilot. Although they were not pleased, they did help me get all my ratings and supported me along the way. I soloed at age 16, got my Private License at age 17 and Commercial/Multi/Instrument at age 18. While getting my ratings, I worked as a Line Service person at the FBO I was flying at. This was my FIRST introduction to homebuilt aircraft! There was an older man who owned a Soneraii II and he kept telling me that I should get involved in homebuilt aircraft since I was so young. It was 1984 and I couldn’t comprehend how somebody could fly in a tube & fabric homemade aircraft with a VW engine and wood prop! I smiled and told him politely “no thanks”. I felt right at home in that factory built Cessna. Fast forward 20 years later and I find myself flying worldwide as a Captain on a DC-8. On one particular trip, my flight engineer showed me some pictures of his homebuilt aircraft. It was a beautiful Van’s RV-6A! After seeing the pictures and talking for hours with him, I was sold. The rest of that trip I spent thinking how to convince my wife that I wanted to build an airplane! When I broke the news to her, she said “no” faster than I could get the words out of my mouth. After showing her pictures of the RV she changed her tune. Originally, she had visions of a lawn chair duct taped to a hang glider with a weed wacker engine! Well, she came around and let me purchase the tail kit. Subsequent portions of the kit followed and in 5 years I had a flyable RV-6A. After flying off the 40 hour Phase I (it had a Sterba wood prop…thus the 40 hours), we traveled around the eastern US for the next 9 years in the RV-6A. Most people would be happy with the achievement of building a kit aircraft, but not me!

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Above, the Twin jag looks like a mirror image…looking up the trailing edge of the rudder.

Now, why I’m building it…

Since 95% of my flight time was multi-engine, I began to search for a twin-engine homebuilt. There was nothing that matched what I was looking for. I only needed 2 seats and it had to be fast! That is when I decided to take the bull by the horns and began engineering the TWIN JAG. My wife began to get suspicious of the 100+ drawings I made night after night. She knew something was brewing…

At this time, I purchased the plans to build a Cozy MKIV. It will have twin Corvairs also. That project is currently about 1/3 complete. I put that project on hold and began the TWIN JAG project. The TWIN JAG began it’s life as a flying RV-6A. I made a decision out of respect for Van’s Aircraft to not refer to this aircraft as a “twin-engine RV-6A”. I hope that everyone will do the same.

About 3 years of R&D, engineering and planning went into this project before I began dismantling the RV-6A. I felt the RV-6A had some shortcomings, some in the design…some in my original build. Experimental aviation gives us the freedom to “think outside the box” and I feel it is one of our last great freedoms! People quickly forget what experimental aviation was about before the “kit” days. In the 1950’s & 60’s, just about all homebuilts were either plans built or one-off original designs. Nowadays, experimental aviation is too full of “sheeple”…the type who think any paint job other than the kit factory paint scheme is a major mod! Experimental aviation has a lot to offer to a broad spectrum of pilots. Not all facets of homebuilding appeal to every pilot so choose your level and get started. exercise your freedom and use what experimental aviation has to offer YOU.

Finally, what is the TWIN JAG and why Corvairs???

My project can be viewed at my Web site,

www.homebuiltdirectory.com. It is listed under “Original One-Off Designs.” I started this Web site as a single searchable site where you can view all types of homebuilts. It is a showcase of homebuilders craftsmanship and costs nothing to use. There are several Corvair aircraft and projects listed there and invite any others to please list your aircraft or project for others to see.

Here is an overview of the TWIN JAG:

2 seat twin-engine fixed gear aircraft

Length: 21″

Wingspan: 26′ 6″

Estimated Empty Weight: 1400 lbs.

Gross Weight: 2150 lbs.

Estimated Cruise Speed: 190 mph

Estimated Stall Speed (GW): 64 mph

Just some of the features:

2- 120hp Corvairs with Weseman 5th bearing and new billet crankshafts

2- 27 gallon fuel tanks (no fuel in passenger cabin)

Unique prop brake system in lieu of heavy high maintenance constant speed props

Dual 10″ Dynon Skyview with dual AHRS

Fully IFR equipped w/ autopilot & electric elevator trim

2 separate electrical systems & batteries

Tubular steel (4130) nosegear w/ bushing dampening

Forward baggage shelf

40″ wing extension

…much more!

Here are some pics in chronological order:

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Single Engine RV-6A

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Right nacelle

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Fitting fuel tank

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Right nacelle fairings

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Right firewall

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RV-9 tail

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Right 20″ wing extension

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Dual Facet pumps

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Fuel system from tank to firewall

The philosophy that I based a lot of the design of this project on is “Simplicity & Redundancy = Reliability.” Remember, the glide ratio of ANY (properly flown) twin with an engine out is better than the glide ratio of ANY single with an engine out.

I have been going to Oshkosh for the past 11 years and I began attending William’s forums on Corvair engines about 5 years ago. Two years ago, I spoke to him and committed to building my 2 engines using his quality parts and expertise. The decision to use the Corvair came 5 years ago after the first Corvair forum. The prospect of a smooth, powerful, strong engine that I can build myself was hard to pass up. In addition, it has a low drag profile since it is relatively narrow. BUT, since I chose the Corvair, I found the best reason of all to use it…the people!!! I attended the informal BBQ last year at OSH held at their tent and I was floored by the genuine kindness and camaraderie that I found there. From William & Grace & Scoob E to Dan & Rachael to Mark P. and the countless others, thank you for your hospitality and advice! I look forward to seeing you all in July!

Best regards,

Jim (& Ginger) Tomaszewski

 

Building a Metal Experimental, the Panther building bolg.

Builders:

If you are new to experimental aircraft building, it is often hard to visualize the exact techniques that are used to build airframes in the major groups, Steel tube, wood, composite and sheet metal. Companies spend a lot of time showing you how cool their planes are, but until you buy the kit, you don’t see a lot about construction. Wood is an easier visualization for most people, and Steel tube aircraft are often seen and photographed before they are covered. Sheet metal aircraft are a bit more of a mystery to new builders because it is much harder to look at the finished airframe and visualize how it went together in detail without first seeing detailed information, particularly in photos. If you are interested in learning more about how sheet metal aircraft are built, particularly how things like wet wings and control systems are done, I highly suggest following Dan’s Panther Building Blog listed below:

http://flypanther.wordpress.com/

Rachel updates it every few days as the aircraft progresses, and there is a lot of good understanding to be had by following it. Dan is working late into the night every day on the plane and it is at the stage of construction were many components are coming together in their final configuration, a good place for new builders to look, read and understand.-ww

Above, Dan stands beside the Panther prototype at Sun n fun 2012, With 601 builder/flyer Greg Jannaokos. Although the plane Has a steel tube fuselage in the cockpit area that protects the pilot and ties together all the major loads in the plane like the landing gear, motor mount and wing spars, the airframe is otherwise all aluminum construction. Dan’s plan is to teach builders the construction techniques and have them make the sheet metal components from plans or kits, and then have them tie all of the sub components together on the steel tube section that he will supply fully welded and powder coated. Dan’s design is named for the Florida Panther, a rare and beautiful wild cat, a relative of the cougar/mountain lion/puma family.

Two F9F-2Bs of VF-721 over Korea.

Above, Grumman’s version of a Panther. It also has folding wings, is made out of aluminum and started out life with an engine made by General Motors (Allison J-33) This aircraft was used by some OK pilots like Ted Williams, John Glenn and a guy named Neil Armstrong.

If you have this day off from work, and would like to invest a little time in reading, check out the story behind the making of one of the most moving aviation films:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bridges_at_Toko-Ri  Although I love Waldo Pepper, Spirit of St Louis, and the Blue Max, I still find The Bridges at Toko-Ri my favorite flight film. Todays consumer driven Hollywood requires that every film have 2 or 3 pointless sequels, sold on 30 second tv spots, the story manipulated to tie it into fast food distribution and theme park rides. Todays aviation films like Pearl Harbor barely escape this formula. fortunately you can go back 60 years to a film like Bridges of Toko-Ri and see a real masterpiece that was very closely based in reality. It is not a kind nor uplifting film. it provides no easy answers nor settled feelings. It has a tremendous amount of flying done in Grumman Panthers, long before some thing  called computer graphics made everything we see today fake.

Part of my connection to the film is that it was my Fathers era of Naval aviation. My Father spent many years in Vietnam and two long tours in Korea.  While these both broke his heart and simultaneously hardened him, he has always said that his years at the Naval Academy after being an enlisted man in WWII are what formed him and prepared him for later trials. On his floor in Bancroft hall, among midshipmen, were three other men the were also being formed, Hudner, Stockdale and Lopez. Even at a very young age, in the company very good men, my Father said that these three stood apart from others. Take a few minutes today to read their stories. The links to Hudner and Lopez are from Wikipedia, read the award citation sections closely, they are moving. The link to Stockdale is a story I wrote last year for the Philosophy section of this blog.-ww

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Hudner,_Jr.

( follow the second link to Thomas_J._Hudner,_Jr.)

James Stockdale – Philosophy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldomero_Lopez

Inexpensive panel…….part two.

Note: If the picture is small, try hitting F5 on the top of your keyboard

Friends,

Here is a look at a very simple panel for our Wagabond. A few days ago it was a brown grocery bag of instruments, some old, some new, and a 8.5″ x 37″ sheet of 6061 T-6 .060″ thick.  I am going to stick it in the plane later tonight.  The actual time to do the layout, cut the holes out, paint it and assemble it was about 4 hours.  Truth be told, I spent several times this long thinking about doing it, contemplating having it cnc routed, trying to think of some clever way of doing it. In the end, the correct answer was just getting out the flycutter, the ruler and a fine point sharpie and going to work on it. I did this after Dan pointed out that I always talk about old school craftsmanship, so I might as well exercise some of it. It pays to have friends who call you out from time to time.

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Above: I put all the instruments on the pilots side. The plane has dual controls, but I just wanted things organized in front of the pilot. The plane has been flying with stick controls and a center throttle. I am leaving the sticks alone, but moving the throttle to the left hand side. For some reason, I like throttle on the left with sticks and throttle in the right hand with yokes. I can fly either configuration either way, but it feels awkward.

From the left: The button is the starter. I do not like key starter switches, they are prone to bad contacts, and having your key chain hanging from it will lead to bumping the switch off in turbulence at one hundred feet AGL (ask me how I know this.) The button in this position can be hit with the left index finger without the hands moving from the stick or throttle. I wire this to be capable of being cranked only when the master is on. (the master is on a lower subpanel.)

The next column is topped by the volt meter. I do not like nor condone the use of ammeters. In this case, if the volt meter reads 12.8, just the battery is working, anything above this shows that the charging system is on line and ahead of the power demand. In operation this shows 14.5 volts or so.  Below this is the hole for an on-off-on snap action, MS rated switch for the ignition. This does not run through the master. It runs directly from the battery (with a 30 amp fuse 2″ from the battery, protecting the line from burning in a dead short, but never allowing the fuse to blow from running the ignition.) Again no key here, the plane is parked with this switch and the master in the off position. This has the least connections and contacts, and thus is the most reliable way of doing it. (I do have a remote, very loud security warning system for the plane, it has a three digit security code: 3 – 50 – 7.)

Next column, a 12 volt turn coordinator. I only put this in because I had it laying around and it was the easiest way to put a skid slip ball in the plane. I look at the ball more than any other thing in a plane. Dan tells me he never looks at one, and wouldn’t bother to put it in. I really doubt that not having one is the secret to Dan’s airmanship, so I will just keep putting them in my planes. Under it is an altimeter from a 1970s Cessna.

The next row is a used airspeed with a range that is close to the planes envelope. I had removed a 200 mph true airspeed that was in the Wagabond. Under it is the Stewart Warner 82636 Tach. 

The next row is three autometer mechanical gauges. Top is oil pressure, oil temp and EGT. There is a 1/4″ hole below the EGT for a mini DPDT switch so I can have two senders, one in each side of the exhaust.

Next column starts with a suction gauge that is only plugging the hole until I buy a micro radio to put in the hole. Beneath it is a mechanical MAP gauge, and under it is a CHT from a certified plane, probably something WWII vintage. Notice that none of the gauges for the engine have electrical sending units. Yes, there are probes, but these are non powered bi-metal senders, not the kind of senders associated with electrical instruments or glass cockpits.

Williams axioms of instrumentation:

 A) It is only as reliable as the sender; In the last 10 years, every instrument error I have seen on builders projects or worked on, was related to poor electrical senders. It doesn’t matter how great your glass cockpit is if the specified senders suck eggs. I am not suggesting electrical things are bad, but they are not fool-proof.

B)  I would rather have no instrumentation than have ones that occasionally gave false information. Anything that cries wolf often will have you doubt the warning when something really is going wrong. One of the things I hate about automotive O2 sensors running lean/rich gauges is that they read “green” (normal operation) when the sensors fail or lose their ground, which happens a lot. As an absolute design requirement, nothing in real aircraft instrumentation reads OK when it fails.  IFR Flight instruments actually display flags when they fail, it’s that important.

C) It is better to have little information about a reliable part than the reverse. By deleting the TC, EGT and using less expensive gauges I could make an even simpler panel that would cost $275 or so. I am setting the Wagabond up with a $1,000 overhauled MA3-SPA carb. These have excellent mixture distribution, and they don’t ever run lean unless you command them to do so. I don’t need 6 CHTs and 6 EGTs for my engine. I believe that anyone who has a $1,000 6 egt/cht monitor keeping tabs on a $275 motorcycle carb is making a serious judgement error.

D) Mechanical gauges with needles offer unique information. I can watch a mechanical oil pressure gauge and if the needle flickers while going up I can tell the bore of the oil pressure relief isn’t smooth enough. You can see rate of change with a needle. Watch the hand on an altimeter in climb. If it is moving as fast as a second-hand on a clock, the plane is climbing 1,000’/min. human eyes are very good at watching rates of change. If your watching climbing EGT on a needle, as it slows you can guess where its going to peak far better than looking at a number displayed on a screen.

E) Electrical instrumentation lies depending on voltage and grounds. If you have electrical instrumentation, warm up the engine, run it at a steady rpm and note the oil pressure. Then take the charging system off line. You need to be aware that many systems will read different numbers depending on if the system is seeing 12.8 or 14.5 volts. Digital electronic systems run between 0-5 volts, and they are particularly susceptible to poor grounds, mediocre crimps and very slight corrosion on connections, three things that happen is homebuilt aircraft. More than one pilot has been on the edge of a heart attack aloft when watching his oil pressure sink to zero, only to find out later it was just a bad ground on an electrical sender.

F) Mechanical instruments are Bad-Ass. On my workshop shelf I have a manifold pressure gauge that reads to seventy five inches of manifold pressure. (22 pounds of boost) It is from a Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune which had 3,700 hp turbo compound radials. It glows in the dark because the numbers are painted on with radioactive paint. There is a pretty good chance that this gauge flew in the cuban missile crisis or attacked the Ho Chi Minh trail. If it could talk, it would tell you that the cold war wasn’t always cold, and it would remind you to think about the people who fought it, but it can’t say anything. It just sits out there, night after night, its faint green glow quietly remembering thousands of hours aloft, in the company of men, men now mostly gone…. In another 15 years, all of the glass cockpits of today, all the MGL stuff from South Africa, all the I-Pads built by virtual slave labor in China, all the garbage like Blue Mountain and Archangel will all be lining the bottoms of landfills accompanying used diapers and copies of People magazine featuring the Kardashians. 15 years from today, my MAP gauge will still be quietly glowing, trying to remind people that there was a time when being an aviator was about skill, reliability under pressure and courage.-ww

Bruce Culver’s Fokker XXI project concept.

Friends,

Builder Bruce Culver wrote the note in blue below. He is kicking around a replica of a historic, but somewhat unknown, WWII fighter.  The letter caught my eye because it has some elements  I can comment on from personal experience. I included a three view and a spec. sheet from the original aircraft. These planes fought in one of the least understood facets of WWII, the ‘winter war’ , a 105 day savage conflict between the Finns and the Soviets. In spite of fantastic Soviet numerical superiority, the Finns fought them to a halt in minus 40 degree temps. Their national pride soared, but they learned the bitter lesson that they could count on no allied support beyond gestures. My comments on the project are in green and follow the letter-ww

“This is outstanding, William – thanks for letting us in on the secret that the ancient steam gauges I want to use will be pretty cheap because no one wants them anymore. I wonder what the backup system is for those glass cockpits if you have a major electrical failure – if the fancy panel loses power, you have NO instruments at all. And as you mentioned by implication, nowadays few instructors teach students to fly by the feel of the airplane. I KNEW I should have learned to fly in the ’60s….. Well, there is a lady who teaches around here in a decathlon,,,,,

I want to build a simple LSA replica fighter using the Loehle P-40 as a starting point and ending up with a Fokker D.XXI as the preferred design. I have tried three times to order the information pack from them and still don’t have it, but so much for customer service. Nonetheless I’d like a plane that will be fun to fly, safe and won’t break the bank at Monte Carlo. I also want to build the whole airplane and the engine, so I know what’s in both and can check better for problems, maintenance needs, etc. It will require a complete rework of the kit fuselage, but this gives me a chance to reinforce the cockpit area. One of their customers wrapped their P-40 prototype in a ball getting too slow on landing and stalled it in, but he almost walked away….. The pictures ain’t pretty. So, it’ll be wood, but good wood. The great thing about the Loehle P-40 and the Fokker D.XXI is I can leave most of the kit as it comes in the box and change only the cockpit and forward fuselage areas, so flying characteristics should be the same as the kit design.

My point is, Fokker D.XXIs didn’t have glass cockpits, so I can cheerfully go for the unwanted orphan steam gauges. And a Corvair engine, probably a basic model as it will power an LSA. And remember, there is always a place for knowledgable troglodytes…..”

Fokker D.XXI.svg

General characteristics

Performance

Bruce, I like the basic idea and the XXI is a well proportioned aircraft that could be scaled to fit the task. At 28″, the Corvair is narrow enough to fit inside the radial cowl as long as the scale was bigger than 62% (5/8ths). At the Zenith open house dinner this year, Mike Loehle and his wife sat at the table with Myself, Becky Shipman, Dan Glaze and Dave Gardiea. Mike was there to support his covering and painting systems. In recent years, his kit company, just like all others, has felt the pinch of the economy. In years past, Loehle has provided 100s of builders very highly regarded kits, but the company operates in a very scaled back capacity from the peak years. If you sat across the table from him you would understand he still cares about builders, but has trouble justifying a full-time communication staff person. A good friend at out airport has a Loehle P-40 that is about 90% done. Let me say that this aircraft is way to lightly constructed for Corvair power. It is intended for two-stroke rotax engines only. Many more things would have to be beefed up than just the front fuselage.

As an alternative approach, think about the WAR replica aircraft. My next door neighbor built and flew a FW-190 powered by an 0-200. We also had one of these airframes fly on a Corvair in Europe a few years ago. They are 1/2 scale, and are too small except for medium and small pilots, and they don’t have the wing area for LSA. But, the wooden ‘dehavland box’ construction, fared in with non-load bearing foam and glass has merit. A number of one-off 5/8th scale fighters have been made this way. In St Augustine there is a 70% Hawker Hurricane that is probably made from this technique. For wing structure, you may wish to get a look at how KR-2s are made. 10 years ago a group of KR builders tested a new airfoil, and had coordinates for an 18% thick root section. This could be laminated into a very strong box spar. There are a number of low wing wood aircraft that could be studied for ideas like Jodel/Falconair single seaters. You can always look at a steel tube fuselage with wooden formers and fabric, it is possible to make a very shapely plane this way. Even if you don’t yet know welding, a challenging and unique aircraft like you are considering will require learning a number of skills. -ww

 

Zenith 750 Builder Blaine Schwartz

Friends,

Below we have two photographs of builder progress from Blaine Schwartz of Texas. Blaine is a Zenith 750 builder, and he is headed to Corvair College #22 March 9-11 at KGTU in Austin, Texas, in less than 10 days. At the College, he is going to assemble and test run his Corvair powerplant. It features a set of 2850 cc pistons and cylinders from us, a set of Falcon heads, and a bottom end featuring a Roy bearing. Blaine has already purchased every Gold System option that we have for engine building. Additionally, he picked up a powdercoated 750 Mount from us and a number of the other required pieces for this 750 installation. Success doesn’t happen by accident, it is the end result of planning and action. If you have not yet signed up for Corvair College A#22, the registration is still open for a little while longer and we’ll be glad to have you. The Central Scrutinizer Ken Pavlou is planning on shutting down online registration  3/1/12 at 23:59 EST. Sign up today and set yourself on the same path that Blaine has followed, which put him in a position of success this year.

There are many ways to clean the case but pressure washing is a good start. Notice that Blaine has his cases sitting on wooden blocks to prevent them from having their mating surfaces touch anything that could scar them or affect their fit. Pressure washing Corvair cases with all their nooks and crannies will leave you just as wet as the cases.

Above, Blaine’s 750 fuselage on the gear. His engine mount is powdercoated gray, our standard color. We are bringing several of them to the College, along with many other installation components, and many boxes of Gold System components. If you are headed to the College, we highly encourage you to order the things you would like in advance for pickup at the event. Although we are bringing a lot of stuff, we almost always sell out of many of the popular items.

Blaine’s field of expertise is the management of very high end aviation systems procurement. The man seriously understands how to plan an aircraft project. Getting organized is second only to getting started. Corvair College #22 in Austin is a great place to get your aviation plans in gear and going.

Be there, Aloha.