Thought for the Day: Risk and Reptile Recycling.

Builders,

Now it is Halloween month, a little picture below,

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Above is the bone structure of a 36″ water moccasin, with a Corvair Gold prop hub for size comparison. The Hub is about 6″ across the face. I have written a number of snake stories like this: Rain, Snakes, and Power Testing, over the years. People who live in a similar setting understand the primary consumer of snakes are large birds. At our airport, we keep the grass on the runway and in the yards short, which allows seeing the snakes, but also makes it easy for birds to keep snakes in check. The snake above was hit by a tractor, but within 30 minutes as recycled to the condition above by large birds. Moccasins are common here, but in reality, they are not a significant risk if you understand something about them, exercise some precautions, and remain alert.

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Your Aviation Connection: 

The general public perceives both snakes and flying as frightening, because they know little or nothing about the topics, and they have no idea that both are just risk management issues. Armed with understanding and awareness, the thinking person can operate with either subject.  Minimizing your risk starts with knowing the subject at hand, and this is why education is the cornerstone of all my work in aviation.

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Wewjr

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Thought for the Day: Two paths in managing risk

“At Corvair College#28, Kevin Purtee remarked that he and I are both the same age, have both worked in aviation every day since we were 26, both hold the same degree from Embry-Riddle, and have both extensively studied and managed risk programs. Yet he pointed out that he has learned a lot from the things I have written on the topic.

There is a simple explanation for this. He has worked in a very dangerous environment (combat) but has done so with professionals who understand risk management. Conversely, I have spent the same years in the wilderness of homebuilding, working with people who often didn’t think they had anything to learn from me. Simply put, I have had a front row seat to countless examples of dangerous thinking and seen the results. I have enough stories, but right now, someone is working on adding to the list. Just make sure it isn’t you.”-ww.

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Left, Hans Vandervort, middle Kevin Purtee and myself, all  Corvair /Piet guys. Kevin has two lives in aviation, one as a fun-loving homebuilder who wears a sock money hat and Hello Kitty tee shirt at Corvair Colleges, and the second as a deadly serious Attack Helicopter pilot with 25 years in the trade.

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In person he is polite, charming and friendly. He and Shelley were the hosts of Colleges #22 and #28. We awarded them the Cherry Grove trophy in 2012 for their contributions to Corvair Powered flight.

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Kevin says that his two worlds in aviation are so far apart that the professional Warrior stays “at work.” I have spent a lot of time with Kevin, and can verify that this is almost always true.

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The sole exception I can think of was when a self-described “professional homebuilder” was giving Kevin an unsolicited lecture on how the style of his plane was not quite right. Kevin politely responded with a big smile, telling the guy that he appreciated the advice, but he builds planes just for fun, it isn’t his day job. He looked the guy in the eye and said “I kill people at work.” You can dress him in a sock monkey hat, a pink shirt or whatever, He is still 100% Warrior under it all.

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Kevin and Shelley keep a busy schedule. For example, the week before Corvair College #22  they were having dinner at the White House.

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Further reading:

The Cherry Grove Trophy

50 days until CC#28, and a look at CC#22

Corvair College #22 KGTU Texas Spring Break 2012

Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee

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Thoughts on gas tanks and a point.

Builders,

One of the most enduringly popular stories I have written is this one from 2012: Steel tube fuselages, “Safe” planes and 250mph accidents. The surface subject is a discussion of fuselage materials, but the bigger point behind it is getting builders to think about developing their own personal risk management assessments.

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Another one, focused more on todays topic was this one from 2016: Dated Sources of Information: Example – Fiberglass fuel tanks. Again, it has a deeper point, that what is popularly deemed “acceptable risk” changes over time, and todays builders should not blindly accept yesterday’s standards, particularly because some critical elements of building environment have changed.

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Today’s story is a bit more specific look at some example gas tanks, but it also has a bigger point drawn from it.

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Would you fly in a plane which had a plastic fuel tank in the fuselage with walls just the thickness of a spark plug gap? How about if that plane had no firewall between the motor and the gas tank? What if it had open vents also? What if I also told you these vents would pour gas on the engine if the plane was put on its back? Think I’m making this combination up? Guess again, this is the actual fuel tank from a Kolb mark III pusher aircraft, and it sat right behind the occupants, directly below the engine. This particular one was signed off by an FAA inspector, and flown for early 20 years. The fact it never burned the plane down is one of those things that leads me to repeat my personal mantra; “god has a sense of humor which I am yet to understand.”

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OK, some plastic tanks are very good. In the center of the picture above is the plastic tank from my 15′ Boston Whaler. It is indestructible. It was made by Jazz, a fuel cell manufacturer, and it came from Summit Racing. It was less than $200. In the field of experimental aircraft, the best known tank of this style is the custom made one that goes in a Sonex aircraft. These are excellent, and they have nothing to do with the glorified milk jug from the Kolb.

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On the other end of the picture, is the milk jugs replacement, an aluminum gas tank folded up, which I’m TiG welding up for my friend Alex to put back in the Kolb. There are two of them in the plane, they will be slightly over 5 gallons each. I am making them in such a way where they can be heavily distorted in an accident without bursting a seam. This is done with several subtle details, like having generous radiuses, having no butt welds, and having the ends be inserts with outward facing flanges. Of course the vents will be properly located, the plane will now actually have a sump to drain the tanks and check for water on pre-flights. Alex is a good guy. Friends with TiG welders don’t let other friends fly with milk jugs for fuel tanks.

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The Bigger Point: Every year, many people quit their project, because they hit a serious stumbling block they don’t like on the design. In about 90% of the cases, particularly with first time builders, they have picked the wrong system or detail to get bent out of shape about. They just need to talk to some other experienced builders and learn why a particular part is done the way it is. However, there are cases of things which builders may have a legitimate discomfort with. In that case, instead of fretting over it for months and letting it sap motivation, the solution is to enlist some help from AVIATION PEOPLE, NOT “RACE CAR” PEOPLE, and come up with a good workable solution, like I did with the tanks above, and get on with making it, and get back to finishing the plane. Don’t be one of the countless builders who allow a small issue to sap their motivation, let their project languish, and eventually never come back to it. Point: if you have an issue, go to the experienced builders with your specific plane, and only if you need to, align the detail design to better suit your own acceptable risk management standards.

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Larry Elrod’s 2,700cc Test Run

Builders;

KR-2 Builder Larry Elrod and his lovely wife scheduled a visit to my hangar for a full day test session and a bit of one on one training this past Friday. They dropped the engine off at dinner time Thursday, and rested up at our local Holiday Inn.

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We started at 9 am on Friday, and had a smooth, productive day were I answered every question Larry had. His engine arrived fully assembled, I just checked a number of adjustments, and for the most part found them spot on.We cover these same things at Corvair Colleges, but some builders prefer a more relaxed and personal day. We took a short break for lunch in my dinning room, and went back to prime the oil system for 30 minutes. At 4 pm rolled the engine out to my ramp for a break in run.

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The engine cranked for 1 or maybe 1.5 seconds, about 2 revolutions, and it lit right off and ran smooth. It was a great moment of personal achievement to Larry. Although he spent 20 years in the USAF, he worked on missiles, not internal combustion engines. At age 66, he now joined the ranks of real ‘motor heads’ by fully rebuilding an engine with his own hands, and having it run perfectly.

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Over the last 29 years, and 42 Corvair Colleges I have been present for this same moment, in the lives of more than 400 builders. I can assure you, it has never become commonplace. Playing a positive role in another person’s personal achievement, one which will be a foundation of their ultimate goal of being master of the complete aircraft they build themselves has a satisfaction which does not fade. It is the root of what is rewarding about my work.

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Above, the moment of achievement: Larry strikes the obligatory “Captain Morgan pose.”  To read more about this integral part of Corvair building read: “Captain Morgan” Contest at #39

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Above, a short video of the engine running. In the film you can see than my front yard is literally adjacent to our 2,600′ grass runway. Over the years we have had perhaps 30 guests to our home and hangar for an engine run. These have to be scheduled in advance, and a friendly reminder new people: I wouldn’t stop by their residence uninvited, so they should not invite themselves to mine.  

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Above, Larry has a very important asset for his project, which not all builders enjoy: A highly supportive spouse. They have been married a long time, and are mutually supportive. After we spoke in the phone, they drove down from Michigan in a small pick up. The trip made sense to them because it allowed Larrys engine to be inspected an run here. The trip and the run seemed like a good personal risk management decision to them.

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Above, a justifiably proud man.  Larry’s 2,700cc 100HP Corvair is straight from my Conversion manual, and it is built exclusively from my conversion parts and those from SPA/ Panther.  Although this engine is going on a KR-2, it follows the logic of this approach: Why Not the Panther engine?.  Its also worth reviewing this story: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #2, Hardest working engine.

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As you look at Larry’s engine above, notice that it is built around all of our standard systems. It has an ultra-light front starter, E/P-X ignition, welded on intakes, a Weseman 5th bearing, short gold hub and a Gold oil system. For these reasons, it will have the same successful track record of the Corvairs we build, and it will be able to use our proven, off the shelf items like baffle kits, Oil Coolers, and cowls, intakes etc.

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 Over the years, there was a general trend among KR builders influenced by the internet, to build ‘unique’ and one of a kind engine installations. While everyone has a right to build what they want, none of these installations had a track record of reliability that could match one of our standard installations. This should come as little surprise, I have been doing this a long time, and have always ‘reserved the right to get smarter’, and our installations have evolved. No builder on his first look at one engine could seriously match what I have learned with an outstanding education, a quarter century of specific experience, a number of smart professional friends, and the benefit of studying several hundred installations. This is why builders who understand the phrase ‘the second mouse gets the cheese’  choose to benefit from my work and research instead of being offended by it. For a look at some one of a kind KR installations and the results, look at this: Built by William Wynne? Built according to The Manual?.

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Installation Components:

We have a full range of bolt on Installation Components to mount a Corvair in a KR. Check out some of these linked stories:

MountS: A 2016 story about our mounts: Zero back ordered Motor Mounts.

Cowls: http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/complete-kr2kr2s-fiberglass-cowling/

Exhausts:  Stainless Steel Exhaust Systems

Intakes:  Intakes and Internet myths

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Contemplating a individual test run? Call me, 904-806-8143.

Thanks, William

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The Next Event on the Schedule:

FlyCorvair/SPA – Joint Workshop/Open house, May 18,19,20

Also get a look at:

Build a 3.3L Corvair at the May 18-20 Workshop/Open house.

Read the links now and make a plan today.

In Your Shop: Studio or Cell?

Builders;

Over the last quarter century, I’ve taught perhaps a thousand people how to build an aircraft engine from a Corvair motor. Some of these builders chose to also consider what else I might have to share on the greater topic of aviation, such as these bitter lessons: Risk Management reference page. The words below are addressed to a still smaller subgroup, the builders concerned with how the hours in the shop might protect ones sanity and provide some clarity and peace in a society which values neither. 

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I wrote the words below in 2013. They address what you might find if you treat the hours in your shop as time spent in a creative studio, where you are investing in yourself. Far too many people approach experimental aviation as a consumer experience, and the look at every hour of building as a trade of time for saving the cost of buying a factory plane. These people are sentencing themselves to time in a prison cell.

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As the months pass, the builder who is working in a studio will develop new skills and find the peaceful time to cleanse what modern life soils. He looks forward to the hours of self investment. The customer who’s only goal was to own the appliance will soon discover he is in a prison cell of his own choosing. He will stay only until a frustrating day arrives and he ‘self-paroles’ by quitting the project, unaware that homebuilding had much more to offer than having an airplane. -ww.

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” If you have never met me, but beleive I am charmed with myself, you got it all wrong. I know countless humans who are better people. They are kinder, smarter, and harder working. I can’t sing nor dance, I learn slowly, and I can’t stand to hear my recorded voice nor see my image on film. If I was once handsome, all trace of it is gone along with my uncorrected eyesight. I can be a conversational bore, and I deeply wish I had given my parents more moments to be proud of me. At 50 I look back on my life with a very critical eye and stand on the far side of a very wide gulf from the heroes of my youth.

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Honest evaluation leads to harsh thoughts like that. I spend a lot of time alone and have long bouts of insomnia, which can lead to thinking about things excessively. But here is a secret, shared with anyone who feels the same way at times; I have a sanctuary where I am insulated from much of my self-criticism. It is a place where at 50, I am much better than I was in my youth. When I am building things with my hands in my shop, I rarely feel poor. Although I now need glasses to do any close work, and my hands have lost a lot of dexterity, I am a far better craftsman than I ever was in my youth. I am not a great craftsman, but over a very long time I have worked to develop these elements in my life, and I compete with no one, except who I was last year. While all else fades, these things flourish. It is a gift I am most thankful for.

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This did not come into focus until 1999, the worst year of my life. (The plane crash and burns were 2001, a picnic compared to 1999.)  Feeling dangerously low, I sought the council of a guy I knew. He had come back from such a year. He is an artist, working as an incredibly detailed wood carver. He told me to forget everyone and everything else, go back to my shop and tools and work with my hands. Give up your apartment, but never your studio. Explore all the things you can’t forget, have stolen, give away or loose. At the moment, I was having a hard time picturing surviving another week, and I asked him how long it took him to recover his sanity.  He thought with great care a slowly said “two, no really three..” I was jolted and blurted out “Three months?” he looked me in the eye and said “No. Years. It’s probably your only way out.” It turned out to be a painfully accurate prediction.

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In the years since I have read letters or posts from many people in a tough spot, who are selling their project or tools. I often think their ship is sinking and they have just traded their life jacket for five more minutes on the deck. They are blindly committing a very self destructive error.  I have also met a number of successful builders who have said that when everything else in there lives was broken, they had a place of refuge in work and creation. Of the thousands of people I have met in aviation, these people are truely brothers, for we share the same salvation.”

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Above, a very rare night run of a Corvair engine at Corvair College #22 in Texas. The engine belonged to John Franklin. It ran after dinner on Saturday night, and he had many fellow builders to cheer on his achievement. It was a great moment among builders with similar perspectives.  These hours are a rarity in homebuilding. The vast majority of the time is spent alone.  The quality of these hours is solely determined by the builders attitude, which will determine if he is working in a studio or a prison cell.

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The Next Event on the Schedule:

FlyCorvair/SPA – Joint Workshop/Open house, May 18,19,20

Read the link now and make a plan today.

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WEWjr

SPA Billet Corvair Cranks

Builders,

Our Neighbor Paul Salter has a 3,000cc Corvair Powered Panther. The engine on it is actually the one from Dan Weseman’s Prototype Panther. It has the first SPA-Made in USA Billet crank in it.  Just about the time Paul was finishing his airframe, Dan was getting his 3.3Liter Billet crank stroker engine going.  Because the three of us take risk management seriously, an intelligent plan was formed where the proven engine with several hundred hours on it would move to Pauls new airframe, and the new 3.3 Liter engine would be tested on Dan’s proven airframe. Common sense tells you this is a better plan than New engine/new airframe.  Because we are all friends at the  same airport, moving the motors around was not a big issue.

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In 2012, when Dan was very busy finishing the Panther Prototype, many friends showed up to play any small role that would let Dan focus more energy and hours on his then-new design.  My part was I offered to assemble and test run Dan’s Corvair engine.

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Above, Dan Weseman and I test run his 3,000 cc Panther engine in my front yard in 2012.

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About a month ago, Paul decided to inspect the 3,000cc engine and remove some of the non standard  test items off the engine (like a special oil pan with an inspection window for monitoring cam gears) and to remove some lead build up from the combustion chambers.  The engine had been on his plane about two years, so it has five birthdays. No big deal, it was some gaskets and a weekend of casual work.

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Paul Called me after he got started and asked if I remembered “leaving anything in the engine” when I assembled it in 2012. I said no, but he did get my attention, as I imagined what he might have found. I drove over to his place to see this:

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Above,  Paul is holding the top cover. The lettering was inside the engine since I closed it in 2012. No one else had seen this, and honestly I had forgotten all about it.

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Above, a close up look. The handwriting is mine.

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If you would like to lean more about the SPA billet corvair cranks you can check out their products page or give them a call at 904-626-7777.

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Wewjr.

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The Politics of Pouring Gasoline

Builders,

Today I went out and bought 3 new 5 gallon cans to store 100LL in. As most of you have noticed, in the last few years, we have all been subjected to “Safety” spouts and pouring devices on new gas cans. Speaking as someone who has spent a lot of days in the burn ward, these devices are stupid, and are not the way to prevent accidents. Obviously, education is. You can’t make the world “safe” for imbeciles, and I personally resent attempts to idiot proof everyone’s world, in a futile attempt to protect those who are working very hard to remove themselves from the gene pool.

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Here is something ironic: The bag above contains a normal spout that replaces the “Safety” spout. Look at the states in which this device is illegal: right at the start of the list is California, Aka: “The People’s Republic of CA“.  Notice that the actual Commies in China produce the device to defeat the pseudo-commie legislative “safety” spouts mandated in those 11 states and DC.  Yes, I own a copy of Das Kapital, and I know it is an economic model, not a system of gas spouts. I think of anything that seeks to remove an individual’s right to choose his own path in life and replaces this with forced compliance with the alleged good of the masses as, for the lack of a better term, “commie”.

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Before anyone from California or any of the other States starts typing, please understand I have been to all 50 states – (State #50, North Dakota), I love CA (just not it’s legislature Water Bomber at twilight) , I think of Albert Camus as a great man (he was a commie – Thinking of the people of France) and of course I am just an opinionated idiot –Lifestyles of Troglodytes.

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Something funny: Three 5 gallon containers, and two 30 round containers in the same picture. I don’t know who designed the gas containers, but the two others work with machines of George Hyde and Gordon Ingram (L) and Eugene Stoner and James Sullivan (R).  When looking at the list of states which forbid the use of regular gasoline pour spouts, it nearly overlaps exactly with states that forbid the mere ownership of the 30 round containers. It is all a misguided attempt to make the world ‘safe’ by removing anything that might be used by a fool or an evil person to cause harm, rather than removing the person who is doing the harm.

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One of the great things I love about aviation, is the fact it is one of the last bastions in American life, where the participants understand that it is a better investment in risk management to educate the participants rather than make a futile try to ‘idiot proof’ the machines.  While I can’t fix your gas spout if you live in a “safety” state, we should both have loud vocal objections when anyone suggests they have an idea for idiot proofing aviation…..unless that idea is escorting the idiots off the airport.

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WEWJR

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Critical Understanding #10 – Carb Ice

Builders:

About 10 years ago, a builder completed a magnificent Zenith 601XL and readied it for it’s first flight. He chose a man who presented himself as an experienced pilot to do the first flight. Although every manual I have sold in the last 15 years contains the Carb Ice story below, the pilot didn’t believe it. I know this because he said it directly after he wrecked the plane on the first flight. He flew away from the airport, and elected to fly at low altitude and low power for some reason, never using carb heat. The probable cause of resulting forced landing was ruled carb ice. I am quite sure almost all the people who watched the events blamed the Corvair, in spite of the fact the carb was identical to the one used on an O-200, and had the plane been equipped with a Continental, it would have had the exact same forced landing, because Physics doesn’t make exceptions for idiots who debate its existence.

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Carb Ice is a topic that everyone who flies light planes should understand, but unfortunately, the percentage of people who have taken the time to learn this critical part of operating light aircraft is dropping. This is partially tied to the demise of the traditional, career flight instructor, and partially due to an ever increasing percentage of people who approach all learning opportunities with the question “Will this be on the test?”

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Funny thing; the subject of carb ice isn’t prominently featured in FAA tests, but it is a very real part of the tests run by flying’s oldest law firm P,C & G.*  and before you fail one of their tests, I’d like to point out they have never had a case overturned on appeal.

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Take some time to read and understand this story: http://flycorvair.com/carbice.html It was written by Grace in 2001, and it is the most reprinted story we have ever put out. It has appeared in magazines all over the world, but idiots have a certain kind of coating, that you can pour information on them, but evidently it beads right up and rolls off without sinking in. Don’t be one of those people.

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Armed with the information above, now go back and review the information below in CU #9.  As a general rule, anytime your engine is operating below 75% power, you should use carb heat. Critical Understanding #9 -Percent of Power and fuel flow.

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There will be people who tell you some aircraft are immune to carb ice. This is a very foolish myth. Fuel injected aircraft have alternative air doors for a reason. Training with Rotax 912s have provided a generation of pilots who don’t understand carb heat, because Rotaxes have full time carb heat. Ellison carbs are often said to be immune, but “Carb Heat Required” is cast right into the body of the carb. There are variations in how susceptible some installations are, but this is nothing you would bet your life on. As a Corvair guy, you will know how to operate any aircraft, and not be restricted to operating a control-less Rotax 912 after driving a Prius with an automatic transmission and automatic braking to the airport. The reward for understanding is being able to operate all types of planes and engines, real machines, not just appliances which have allegedly been ‘idiot proofed.’

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I don’t care what temperature it is outside, or if the plane has a Lycoming Continental or a Corvair, when I pull the power back, I put the carb heat on. I am sure that 90% of the time, the conditions in Florida preclude needing carb heat, but I use it anyway. I am sure that I could drive through red lights 90% of the time and not have an accident, but I don’t because there is a certain penalty associated with being wrong, and there is no reward for guessing when you might not need Carb heat.  If a conversation starts up about carb ice, and the first thing out of someone’s mouth is that you don’t really need it, nod politely, and give that person a wide berth. I could fill an entire evening with stories of collateral damage done to people by idiots in aviation. A wide berth means you never get in a plane with them, you don’t fly in the pattern when they are out, and you don’t listen to their opinions nor advice. If that sounds harsh, come find me after hours at Oshkosh and I will share how Phil Schacht, the aviator who was an irreplaceable element is Grace’s development as a pilot, was killed by an idiot. Come with an empty stomach, because the story includes him burning to death in his plane, while the idiot responsible escaped to flee our country with his worthless life.

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What carburetor ice looks like; get a glance at the intake manifold tube above the carburetor in this photo of Jim Barbour’s running at Barnwell 2011. Despite the engine being quite warm, the solid white that you see is pure ice that is frozen on the outside of the test stand’s intake manifold. You don’t need x-ray vision to understand that there is matching ice on the inside of the manifold also. Although it was cold, the main effect of icing is caused by the evaporation of the fuel coming out of the carburetor. Look at the sunlight and shadows and understand it was a clear blue day out, so all people who say it has to be overcast to ice are idiots.  The fact this is a Corvair has no bearing, this is a Continental O-200 carb, and it would look exactly the same running on an O-200.

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-ww.

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flying’s oldest law firm P,C & G.*  = The laws of Physics Chemistry and Gravity. Read: Risk Management – Human factors ” The evidence that fools present for the existence of luck is vague and anecdotal at best.  Hard, proven and factual evidence for the existence
of Physics, Gravity and Chemistry can be found at any crash site.”

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Note Book Section:

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Make line 10.1 in your Hand book a hand written entry, stating  “As a general rule, anytime your engine is operating below 75% power, you should use carb heat” and “Cab heat is to be used as Anti-ice, not De-ice.”

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Make line 10.2 in your Hand book a note showing the RPM drop from applying carb heat at idle. Note both RPMs and the OAT. The minimum acceptable RPM drop when the engine is warmed up, is 125 RPM.

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Make line 10.3 in your Hand book a list of procedures when the pilot will use carb heat, other than power reduction. They would typically include, but not be limited to,  inadvertently flying into rain,  Engine running rough in flight, etc.  

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Make line 10.4 in your Hand Book a notation on the effect of automotive fuels being more prone to ice than aircraft fuels.

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Make line 10.5 in your Hand Book a series of sample conditions where the rpm and MAP would indicate less than 75% power and therefore require the use of carb heat.

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Stories on Deck / Reading List – Rev. 1 / 10 / 17

Builders,

My favorite color combination for my own planes is Insignia blue fuselage and Nevada silver wings. Both my Pietenpol and Wagabond were finished like this. These are Stits colors in ‘Poly Tone’, which intentionally has a matte, not shiny finish.

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While the Piet was at Oshkosh 2000, a guy who didn’t understand finishes actually asked, in front of people,  if I was going to repaint it, because he would be “embarrassed” if his plane looked that way.  I asked him if he was a pilot, which he was, an owner of an RV-6A. I asked him what the empty weight was, but he wasn’t sure, as he didn’t built it; I asked him what the maneuvering speed of his plane was, and said he didn’t know; I asked him what the Vx and Vy speeds of the plane were and he said something about it climbed good at 120 mph. I told him I actually liked matte finishes, but I would be really embarrassed if  I was stupid enough to fly a plane I didn’t know anything about.

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If you need to know how to have a short Christmas card list, I have plenty of tips for you, but that isn’t what I am here to share.  I have spent a lot of years learning  a lot about intelligent operation of aircraft, a subject that gets a lot less attention than say, shiny paint and electronic instruments. The subject matters, because it is the great source of accidents in experimental aircraft. The Corvair movement has a good record, but we are not immune, and in recent years, the overwhelming majority, if not 100% of the accidents in Corvair powered planes can be directly traced to poor decision making or ignorance of how to operate an aircraft at lower risk.

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Right now, about 25% of the fleet of Corvair powered planes owners are doing something, like flying without setting the timing with a light, that will inevitably lead to an engine failure, a forced landing or a crash. That may sound terrible, but I’d place the percentage of home builders as a whole nearer 60%. Most of our 25% will damage their engine, scare the shit out of themselves, or have a forced landing without major injury. They will, almost without fail, blame the engine or me, and never accepting any responsibility, tell many people on the net they are moving on to another brand or engine and perhaps aircraft. Doubt this? Consider how many times you have seen a post that says “I tried it, but I’m moving on to a good engine” vs ever seeing a story that says “My plane is broken, I could have been hurt or killed someone, and as PIC and a Man, I am going to accept responsibility for this and share what my mistake was.” The ratio is about 100 to 1.

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Here is the Good News for you: You picked a Corvair as your engine, and by doing so, I am your advisor, and I not only know the subject of intelligent operation well, but between Colleges and writing, I devote perhaps 1,000 hours a year to making what I have learned on these matters available….for free.

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Here is your part: You actually have to devote the time and effort to read, consider, and understand these issues. You must develop your own POH, write in in some detail, and practice it with loyalty. A builder who reads this stuff, asks questions and wants to learn, puts effort into his POH will be well rewarded, and probably very impressed with can, and am willing to share for free.

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 Conversely, a builder who comes to a college just looking for a ‘free engine assembly’, who has no nodding acquaintance with the articles below, refuses to develop a POH for his plane and really just wanted a ‘cheap engine’ is going to rapidly discover that it isn’t in my interest to get him flying behind a Corvair and to the scene of his eventual accident. the 1,000 hours a year I have to invest are mine, and I am going to find better builders to give them to.  If that makes a guy who hates learning quit Corvairs and complain about me on the net, that will actually do far less damage to my work and the good name of Corvairs than his inevitable accident will, where he or his beneficiaries will of course blame everyone except the PIC who refused to learn anything.

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Print the page, and check off the stories as you read them, study and enter them in your POH. There is a lot of reading here, but it is critical to safe operation of your plane. Pick 3 nights a week, get a coffee and read 3 articles each night. If that sounds like a lot, consider that most people watch more TV than that, and plenty of people read worthless internet discussion groups. Take your pick, it is your life.

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In the next weeks, I am going to expand the “Critical Understanding” series, to as many as 20-25 articles. If they were not important, I wouldn’t write them.

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Critical Understanding Reference Page

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Critical Understanding #1, Take off distance.

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Critical Understanding #2, Absolute Minimum Static RPM.

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Critical Understanding #3, Rate of Climb, the critical prop evaluation.

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Critical Understanding #4, ANY loss of RPM is Detonation.

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Critical Understanding #5, Knowing “+ROC/5” Rate of Climb on Five cylinders

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Critical Understanding #6, The “Two Minute Test”

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Critical Understanding #7, The Most Qualified Pilot, ALONE.

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 Critical Understanding #8, Required Engine Warm Up.

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In 2014 I wrote the series below. If you have not read it, please do, including the links and the comments, I suggest printing them and putting them in a binder, as part of your POH (Pilots Operating Handbook) for your aircraft.

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro.

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #2, Hardest working engine

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #3, My way or the highway?

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #4, Blueprint for success or?

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #5, Two Minute Test

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #6, 98% DNA not enough.

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #7, Nothing to Learn

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #8, Learning from other’s mistakes.

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The third section of the reading list is the Risk Management series. There are 10 stories under the first link, plus the two listed below it. These also should be read, printed, and part of your POH.

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Risk Management reference page

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Instrumentation: Perspective on Risk Management

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Thought for the Day: Two paths in managing risk

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-ww.

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IMG_8756

Ken holds The Cherry Grove Trophy, 2014 at CC#31 Barnwell.  His aircraft now has 500+ hours without incident. Read: Ken Pavlou’s Zenith 601XL hits 500 hours. Would you like your own version of this picture, rather than an accident report with your name on it? Read, consider and understand all of the stories above. In aviation, understanding and good judgement are your only protection.

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Critical Understanding #6, The “Two Minute Test”

Builders:

The “Two Minute Test” is a critical, required before test flight procedure. designed to insure your planes engine and systems will run at full power for two minutes at full static RPM and climb out angle. This simulates the time and power it will take your aircraft to reach pattern altitude. If it has an issue with power after that, making a precautionary landing from that point is vastly easier than having an issue at 300′ AGL.

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This test is nothing new, I published detailed notes on it in our Flight Operations Manual eight years ago, and I wrote stories  about it all the way back to 2002. Unfortunately, I believe less than half of builders do it before taking their first flight. I can think of 5 planes off the top of my head that would not have been damaged or wrecked if the builder had just run this test and discovered he had an issue on the ground instead of at 300′.  I am including this in this Critical Understanding series, because I want to increase the percentage of builders who use it, hopefully to 100%.

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With that goal, we will have line entries for the test, in your Hand Book. I will suggest these at the bottom of this article. If everyone does the test, and logs the results in their Hand Book, we can avoid a lot of needless accidents. If a guy doesn’t want to do it, I can’t force him to, but I’ll be blunt with everyone: if a builder doesn’t do the test, I don’t consider his plane to be airworthy for test flying.

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If he has insurance coverage based on claiming his engine is “Built and operated to WW standards”, and he has an accident, his insurance company could try to get out of paying the claim. Many companies pay the claim, and then try to go after everyone who produced a product in the plane, even if the accident was obviously pilot error. If the accident could have been prevented with a two minute test, I will have zero hesitation about pointing that out. BTW, that isn’t a hypothetical situation, insurance companies hire bottom feeder lawyers to harass manufactures on pilot error accidents all the time. The other side of the coin is simple: if you are smart and use the test, it is a tool that will offer you great protection, and if you log book and Hand Book have entries confirming that you performed it, neither the FAA nor your insurance company can give you a hard time about it, and I will consider it my duty to tell everyone that you did your due diligence on risk management.

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A full, detailed explanation of the Two Minute Test can be found in this story : Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #5, Two Minute Test. This is a lengthy article with many good points about testing, I consider it required reading for builders about to start a test program. The Two Minute Test can also be found in our Flight Operations Manual.

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Note Book Section:

Make line 6.1 in your Hand Book a entry that reads the full static RPM. It should also note the prop and pitch, and the atmospheric conditions at the time. It must also include the fuel and the timing settings.  

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Make line 6.2 in your Hand Book an entry under the same conditions as 6.1, but with But it has to note the CHT of the engine at the end of the Two Minute Test.

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TEMP LIMIT NOTES:

Although GM rated the engine at 575F as the CHT redline, under no circumstances should you allow the CHT to Exceed 425F under the spark plugs or 400F on the bottom of the heads. If it does, stop the test. If the engine exceeds the limit in less than 2 minutes, read this: Cylinder Head Temperature measurement and Corvair CHT, letters and notes. There are many links in the stories to further reading on CHT’s in Corvairs. Read them.

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If the Engine starts off with a static RPM of say 2750, but during the test the rpm starts coming down to 2740, 2730, 2720, BEWARE, It is detonating. STOP at once. Critical Understanding #4, ANY loss of RPM is Detonation.

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Anytime you observe an engines’ CHT numbers move up smoothly, but suddenly get hotter at 2 or 3 times the previous rate, THE MOTOR IS DETONATING. Stop the test, solve the issue. The motor need not exceed 400F to have this issue. If the engine starts off warm at 200F and slowly works its way to 300F in the first minute, but suddenly in 15 seconds adds another 100F, it is detonating, stop.

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-ww.

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