Triumph of The Squares – 2020

Builders,

As we get closer to the conclusion of the year, let me give you an advanced look at the source of my 2020 flying season theme.  50 years ago, A first order social philosopher, who constantly reminded people he was a working Longshoreman in San Francisco, wrote a highly influential thesis called “The Triumph of the Squares” the subject of which was the Apollo Space Program, but he held that it was the perfect example of achievement done by men of action and determination, in spite of the politically turbulent times around them. This man was Eric Hoffer.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Hoffer

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Hoffer was the ultimate blue collar man, with a titanic spirit, and a passionate love for his country. He was an unrelenting and insightful critic of all totalitarian movements, and for his writing on the topic, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His specific expertise was the mindset of individuals. A sample quote:

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” People who bite the hand that feeds them, usually lick the boot that kicks them”

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These videos are samples from a long interview done by CBS News in 1967.  I selected the video above not because I like the commentary of the guy who posted it, but because it has Hoffer’s words in subtitles. He has a very strong accent that many people find hard to decipher, but his passion is obvious.  Do not mistake him for anything but purely American, he was born in New York City, and few people loved our country and its people, as he did.

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“Special talent for maintenance” Is the first comment he is making here. He explained how critical this is, and that it’s not present in in many struggling cultures. …… Near the end, he speaks of the then current governor of his home state, whom he feels is not as impressive as the state he serves. The same man, still acknowledged Hoffer’s unmatched service to freedom by awarding him the Medal of Freedom in the White House 15 years later.

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Your 2020 Aviation Connection: 

Hoffer said it was the “Squares” the engineers, the builders, the men of action, that actually defined achievement in the 1960s, not the people obsessed with the politics and social movements of the day. He conceded that there were great things done in civil rights, but held that the people, on both sides of the political spectrum, who were absolutely consumed by daily events, had much smaller individual lives then the Americans, who acknowledged the social environment, but still stuck to their personal creative ambitions, and were determined to see them through. He thought they gave more to the country by far, than people who watched the protests and strife and let the anxiety of it own them.

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I uphold that Hoffer was right about this in 1969, and he is still right in 2019. We will enter the 2020 election year shortly. Each of us will decide every day if we will let the media drama rule our emotions, or if we will go to the shop and advance our personal ambitions in aviation. Social media and politics are controlled by vast corporations with armies of experts paid to make it addictive and irresistible to most people. The advertising revenue and ratings it generates pays for this. They have the ability to make an addictive product that would be the envy of the Medellin Drug Cartel.

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I get why it is hard to change, many things in our society deeply matter to me. In 2016 I wrote this: Thought for the Day: “My Dreams” the day Michael Bloomberg announced he was willing to buy a job at 1600 Pennsylvania ave. But this year, above all others, I am going to invest in myself, advance my own ambitions, and refuse to react on command of each day’s new narrative. If you have the will power to ignore all the emotional reactions the media and the parties and the corporations are commanding you to have, and replace this with the personal action to learn, understand and create, then you will own the year, and lead a life that Hoffer would have praised. 

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2019 Deland and Finish School Video

Builders:

Here is a short fun video, a glance at last week’s Corvair Operations College and the Finishing School held at my place where we Ran  two 3.3L’s and a 3.0L engine.

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Present in the video are many of the personalities who make my year possible, Ken Pavlou, Phil Maxson, Dan Sheradin, Ron the Drummer, Kitty Politi, Earl Brown, and others were here for a traditional year end gathering the same week. We had a few new people thrown in, and more than 30 people over for dinner Saturday night, a lot in a small house. It was a lot of fun, and a good way to close out my 30th year in experimental aviation. It’s mostly people pictures because as much as I love engines, people, are far more interesting, and I am blessed to have more good people in my life than I deserve.

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Looking forward to many good times with friends, both old and new, in 2020.

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We have now achieved the goal of 1,000 subscribers on Youtube, and we will shortly meet the 2nd criterion of having 4,000 hours of video viewing, which will allow direct hyperlinks in the videos and descriptions, which will allow us to bring all of our media formats into one fully coordinated machine. Something very good for 2020. 

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New interview video – Learning and Risk Management.

Builders,

When Ken Pavlou and Phil Maxson were here last week, we took a hour to shoot some interview footage on the topics above. This is the next video on my YouTube channel in the “Perceptions” series.

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Click on the picture above to see the video. It was shot in my front yard at dusk, no notes, one take, no editing to speak of. The “perceptions” videos are share ideas and perspectives in an unfiltered, unpolished, authentic presentation.

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Pietenpol for Thailand, Pt. #2

Builders,

Here is the second letter from Cy Mao in Thailand, about his proposed lightweight Pietenpol.

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William,

Thank you for kind words of King Rama IX and Thailand. Both are deserving of your kind praise.

I think I will try to build this and if over 550 Lbs I will only have to license as airplane, not ultralight but in the process I will discover the lightest Pietenpol practical to build. Or perhaps as you mention use Rotax but I like reliable 4 cycle and sounds nice too so could look at this UL-260. Also perhaps Volkswagen but I think not best RPM for Pietenpol like this and I think not so much lighter than A65.

I will follow your suggestions and am curious just which fittings and such you believe are overbuilt and can be aluminum not steel. But this is not yet critical to know. I will first build ribs.

Of course I’m also interested in your light landing gear you mentioned and the two piece wing you talked about.

I meant to ask if you think 1″ routed spar is lighter or the 3/4″ solid spar I read about. You mentioned a 3/4″ spar and still router it too. So I would think this for sure the lightest. How much to router I will ask later.

First I will build ribs 1/4 x 1/4 so I need to plan spar thickness to build ribs to fit this spar. I believe you suggest lightest possible is 3/4″ and then router too. Is this correct?

Also if I plan to build two piece wing as you mention what is the rib count for this version. I have only seen one and three piece wing views. Not sure how many ribs I will need if two piece wing.

Of course I will report my discoveries such as how much weight is saved by 1/4 x 1/4 capstrips and other things to change and finally of course if something breaks we will all know it is not enough.

You ask my address sir:

KGC – Unit 708 -Emerald Development Group
94/81 MOO 7, Vichitsongkarm Rd
Kathu, Kathu, Phuket, 83120

Note Delivery in Thailand sometimes slow or never shows up. Best if can track and return to yourself if necessary. Also I am happy to pay for book as well. When I see your video I already know I need one.

Thank you Kuhn William

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Image result for Roger white pietenpol
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Above, Roger White’s Pietenpol. It has a steel tube fuselage and an A-75. It is still flying in the hands of a new owner, I’m pretty sure it is more than 25 years old. I saw it in person at Brodhead many years ago. Notice it has Vee cabane struts, yielding a two piece wing and no center section.  I believe this is far lighter than a center section, and it is also stronger. I do not know the finished weight of the plane, but it was visually a very good performer. Roger’s EAA # is 42, he built a number of planes.

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 Roger White stops by my tent at Oshkosh 2010. Note he is wearing a CIB from Korea.  He is a first class American.

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Response to the letter: 

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I believe you are correct, the VW isn’t radically lighter than a 65, but a UL-260 is a four stroke, light, and it makes very good thrust.

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I would plan on 3/4″ spar slots in the ribs, I will see if I can get you some examples of classic planes with 3/4″ spars. I would still route them.

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Manual is on the way tomorrow. I will see if I can find a picture of the 590 pound plane we weighed.

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Thanks, William

Pietenpol for Thailand.

Builders,

The following letter came from Cy Mao in Thailand. It caught my eye because many years of my childhood were spent in Thailand, where my father led the US work on infrastructure projects like Airbases and Hospitals. They were golden years for my family. We had the utmost respect for the nation that welcomed us. 

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Hello

I hope this is the right place to ask this. I apologize if your “comments” are not where you want this. If you prefer an email address to be used just tell me.

I want to build a Pietenpol in Thailand where a two seat ultralight can weigh 550 pounds empty. “Real airplanes” are very restricted in flight, sort of like flying IFR in the USA. Not so much fun. Ultralights can fly without being in constant radio contact with “our ATC”.

I saw in the 1932 Flying and Glider manual that a Piet weighs 625 pounds with water with a Model A of 244 pounds and radiator of 21. Take away 265 and add back an A65 of about 170 and it weighs 530 pounds which is legal by 20 pounds. This is my plan. Then I research this plane on the forum and see that this plane usually weighs over 700 pounds and I think it is due to a lot of changes by builders since 1932 likes batteries and brakes and such.

So I ask if you can help me build the lightest Pietenpol and if you think it can weigh 550 pounds or less. Then of course we will talk about CG – I watched your video about this too.

I prefer build wood fuselage. Is the metal version lighter? I can build steel if necessary.
What is lightest gear? I think old wooden gear looks lighter.
My place to build is not 30′ so I must build 3 piece wing. But if this adds too much weight I can look for a bigger place to build if this is important.

I plan only Airspeed indicator and oil pressure gauge.
No brakes, no battery, no radio. No upholstery, Only seatbelts.
You say always best to build long fuselage. Is this true even if empty weight is critical?
I like to have steerable tailwheel but can change to skid when finished if I need to lose a pound or two (but skid vs tailwheel may affect where I should have put the axle a bit to handle on the ground, and will move CG a bit also.)

I read about Oratex fabric that needs no heavy paint. I can use this. Some people say paint of airplane can weigh 30 pounds.

Do you think 550 pounds is possible?

If you think this is not possible by the plans then I wonder more:

Looking at other airplane plans I always see ribs built from 1/4 x 1/4. Piet uses 1/4 x 1/2. Is this important or only overbuilt? 1/4 x 1/4 can save almost half the weight of ribs (gussets still weigh the same of course) Rib spacing is close as any other plane and wing loading is very light. Do ribs need to be 1/2″ for some other reason? I don’t see much compression struts in Piet wing and wonder if they also serve this function and best to leave at 1/4″ x 1/2″

Also I notice fuselage longerons are 1″ x 1″ but many plans I look at make 3/4″ x 3/4″ much more common. Is this an example of rough landing areas in 1932 and not important anymore or is this not a good idea to make these smaller? Of course I don’t want a plane that will break apart.

Thank you

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Above, my father speaking with HRH, the King of Thailand, in 1974. Being born in Massachusetts and educated in Switzerland, The king understood both western and eastern worlds. To read the story, click here: Real moral power: HRH, the King of Thailand passes from this life

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Friend,

Your letter is an interesting challenge. Lets look at some numbers I’m sure of to see what can be planned:

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Lightest 65 Continental powered plane I have weighed was 590.  It was very lightly built, no brakes, hand prop, etc. I don’t think it is close enough to 550. The 170 pound weight for the engine is for the bare motor, its flying weight is closer to 190. The average 65 Continental Piet weighs over 700 pounds.

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Lightest Ford powered plane I have weighed is 677.  The average is 720 or so. These guys put more effort into saving weight than Continental builders. The numbers in the Flying and Glider manuals are optimistic guesses, not data. There is no way you could look at the 677 pound plane I weighed and see 50 spare pounds just sitting on it.  Im reasonably sure the 625 pound number is a myth.

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There is a lot of talk about steel tubing being lighter, but after the floorboards, tabs and mounting points are on it, the weight advantage of the steel tube plane largely evaporates.  I would still build a long fuselage unless you are your passengers are less than 1.7 meters tall. The weight difference is small. Plan on building the fuselage out of 3/4 x 3/4, it is plenty strong and BHP built some of his later planes that way. Make sure you use Spruce, or some wood that is that light. Fir is significantly more dense.

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The wooden gear and straight axle are much heavier than later J-3 style gear. The 590 pound plane used spun aluminum go cart wheels and very light tires, no brakes, and lightly built J-3 gear. I can show you how to make very light bungeeing gear that uses  about 600 #8 rubber bands on each side. Don’t laugh, it flew on my Piet for 25 years before I got it.

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Oratech fabric is a very real weight savings, perhaps 20-25 pounds on a Piet. It is not as expensive as people make it sound.  1/4 x 1/4 for cap strips is fine, that is actually the size in a Pitts Special. The Spars in some of BHP’s later planes were only 3/4″ wide. Consider this is the same as many Cubs. There is talk that the British built up spars are lighter, but routed 3/4″ spars would likely beat them.  I can show you how to make a two piece wing with a very light joint in the middle. A one peice wing is clumsy to build and cover. There are steel fittings that could be replaced by aluminum in certain places. Aluminum lift struts are very light by comparison to other options.

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With all this done, I still think you would have a very hard time getting into the 550 pound weight for sure. You could build the airframe and see if it could be Continental powered, but keep this as a back up: You could always use a Rotax 582 or  a UL-260 on a long mount for the lowest possible engine weight. People will say that they can’t power a Piet, but that you are speaking of building is several hundred pounds lighter than a typical Piet.  A 535 pound Piet with a 582 on the front would out climb almost any Pietenpol in the US.

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Send me your address and I will mail you a copy of my weight and Balance manual as a gift.  – this could be an interesting Project of International cooperation. ขอขอบคุณ.

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Billy from Philly, 3.3L Corvair engine run video

Builders:

Billy Kerchner, a Sonex plans builder from Philadelphia, was one of the other builders who came to my hangar for the finishing school.  He also elected to build an SPA 3.3L Corvair from an “Engine in a Box” kit.  We caught this short video after the run, when he was packing unto head home.  Not technical, just capturing the spirit of the moment. Word of caution to viewers under 13 and the easily offended, video does contain an accurate expression of happiness in the true Philly vernacular.

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We just reached 1,000 subscribers to my Youtube channel yesterday, but your participation is still important, if you have not yet subscribed, please take a moment to do so. Thank You,

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Ken Killian, 3.3L Corvair Run Video.

Builders:

Last week, several builders came to my hangar for a finishing school. Ken Killian, who is building a Zenith 650, Selected to build an SPA 3.3L Corvair from an “Engine in a Box” kit.  We caught this short video right after the run. Not technical, just capturing the spirit of the moment.

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We just reached 1,000 subscribers to my Youtube channel yesterday, but your participation is still important, if you have not yet subscribed, please take a moment to do so. Thank You,

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