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.

.

—————————————————————————–

.

125026

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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

.

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

.

 

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.

.

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?”

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.’

.

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.

.

.

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.

.

-ww.

.

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.”

.

Note Book Section:

.

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.”

.

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.

.

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.  

.

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

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

 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.

.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

.

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.

.

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.

.

Critical Understanding Reference Page

.

Critical Understanding #1, Take off distance.

.

Critical Understanding #2, Absolute Minimum Static RPM.

.

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

.

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

.

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

.

Critical Understanding #6, The “Two Minute Test”

.

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

.

 Critical Understanding #8, Required Engine Warm Up.

.

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.

.

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro.

.

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #2, Hardest working engine

.

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

.

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

.

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #5, Two Minute Test

.

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

.

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #7, Nothing to Learn

.

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

.

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.

.

Risk Management reference page

.

Instrumentation: Perspective on Risk Management

.

Thought for the Day: Two paths in managing risk

.

-ww.

.

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.

.

 

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.

.

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%.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.  

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

-ww.

.

 

 

 

 

.

 

Thought for the Day: Columbus Day, 1925.

Builders;

170 years ago, half my DNA lived in Germany, the other half in Ireland.  The first element of the Irish half came to America in the form of a 12 year old girl who walked 90 miles to a port, took 4th class steerage to Castle Garden immigration station, and began 8 years of work as an indentured servant in a wealthy home in New Jersey.

.

She had a number of sons, almost all of whom became police officers, among them my Grandfather Michael Wynne and his older brother William Wynne. Starting before WWI, they worked as patrolmen for the Passaic and Clifton departments respectively.

.

On Columbus day 1925, my great uncle was on duty for the parade in Clifton. He observed the marchers in the lead holding the Italian flag up high, while intentionally holding the United States flag dipped beneath it. He was not one to tolerate such intentional disrespect, and he stepped off the curb and grabbed the pole of the Italian flag.  When a number of the marchers moved on him, he drew his revolver to make it clear he would not be assaulted without cost.

.

The mayor was pressured to fire him, but there was a public outcry, exemplified by the poem in the paper shown below, written by a woman who’s father was a civil war veteran. William Wynne kept his job, but in the long run paid a price for it. He advanced through the ranks, but not at the pace he deserved or one that matched the success of his brothers. If he ever regretted his actions that day, he never mentioned a single word of it to anyone. He put his loyalty to the ideals of this country above all else.

.


.

My Grandfather and his siblings were aware of their heritage, but were not attached to it; They considered themselves 100% American. In their formative years, Teddy Roosevelt was the outspoken president of the United States. One of the things TR spoke against was anyone identifying themselves as a “Hyphenated American.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyphenated_American ) . Roosevelt was absolutely clear that he considered any naturalized citizen just as good as one who was born here, but he had no tolerance for people who were unsure of their loyalty. To some of todays ears, this is terrible, but my grandfather and his siblings understood it without reservation. A century later, I confess to feeling the same way.

.

We have all seen the commercial for DNA testing where some person feels their life is changed because they discover that 300 years ago their ancestors lived in a Slavic country, not Spain. I find the very premise laughable, because that person could have traveled to both Slovenia and Spain, and they would really know nothing of the customs, far less the mindset, yet the new results bring them some “identity”.

.

Conversely, I have no confusion on these issues: for better or worse, I am an American, period, end of sentence. I have known many Germans, worked with them and have been to Germany; in spite of the fact 50% of my DNA is from there, I feel no attachment to the culture, it isn’t mine to claim. In Munich I was simply a tourist just as I have always been in other countries. I suspect the peoples of those lands would prefer Americans didn’t harbor the fantasy their DNA tests qualify them to understand what it means to be a native of those places.

.

Unlike most Americans, I am particularly well read on our history, including its lowest points. I was born 72 years to the day after the US 7th Cavalry killed several hundred people, mostly women and children, at a cold desolate place called Wounded Knee, South Dakota.  This was considered the very last ‘battle’ fought between Native Americans and all the people who had come since Columbus.  398 years of warfare came to an end that day, not with just peace, nor even a fair fight.  On a day where most people are somehow blindly celebrating a man who ushered in the Europeans, you can set yourself apart by reading the story of Wounded Knee, including the really ugly parts where women with infants who ran miles from the battle where run down and executed by US soldiers. There were less that 500 soldiers there, but 22 of them were awarded the Medal of Honor for their ‘heroic’ actions.

.

The awareness of my countries failings doesn’t condone or justify weak loyalty. The awareness just requires my vigilance against further mistakes during the ‘watch’ of my adult years as a citizen. There will be national failings, such as this: Political Reality Check , but they should not be cynically accepted as inevitable. It is beyond me why many people believe that our mistakes are made by the other party, my personal feelings are expressed here: Patriotism has no Party .

.

Worth reading:   What the 4th of July means to me.

.

———————–

.

Your Aviation Connection: Just as I believe that a person can choose to be an American, and make the conscious choice to live within our laws and values, I also believe that anyone, can choose to be an Aviator, and abide by and enjoy the equal protection of the laws of physics chemistry and gravity.  It has been my long experience that the rewards of being an aviator go to the people who give it the ‘loyalty’ of their best efforts, not those who dabble in it with half hearted interest, a hyphenated loyalty where the casual retain the customs of lands outside the airport fence where “It should be alright” is a national moto.

.

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.”

.


.

When I was little, maybe 9, my Father took us to The Jefferson Memorial. There he explained to us that The United States of America was neither a business nor a playground, it is a set of ideals, which made it the last best hope of mankind. The dream that mankind had moved past kings and dictators, past theocrats and oppressors, to a world where individuals governed themselves as equals. We could look at the ceiling and read Jefferson’s words plainly:

.

“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

.

 From there we went to Arlington, where my father explained that the nation had set aside an eternal resting place for the citizens who had laid down their lives for the ideals of this country, and if he were ever to take a place among them, we should not weep, as it would only mean that he had lived for something greater than himself.

.

Dated Sources of Information: Example – Fiberglass fuel tanks

Builders:

I am now about to demonstrate my commitment to the risk management of today’s homebuilders, by “Touching the Third Rail” of homebuilding, I am going to say something that strongly disagrees with a man who since his passing has been elevated to infallible sainthood in homebuilding,  Tony Bingelis. This will certainly generate hate mail, but that’s OK it just keeps the Christmas card list short.

.

Before people get up in arms, let me make several statements: Tony Bingelis was a real homebuilder, He made about 10 planes, he wrote a lot of useful articles, particularly in the era when many homebuilts were plans built, and the plans lacked a lot of finishing details. Critically, while his writing didn’t include phrases like “I might be wrong about this” no where did he claim to be infallible. That aspect of his legend came later, not from people who appreciated his books (like me) but from people who wanted to have an infallible saint to follow, who’s comments were often vague enough to seem to support their particular personal myth they wanted to believe.

.

Want an example? In his book on power plants, Bingelis’s advice on prop length is  “Keep your prop as long as possible, as long as possible” Sounds like a witty clever idea, but doesn’t constitute any learning, testing or experience. It is just a catch phrase that countless people have used as ‘evidence’  that their belief that props turning over 2200 rpm are inefficient, and any prop smaller than 72″ makes no thrust. Let’s compare an actual data point, from a contemporary of Bingelis: Steve Wittman. get a look at this story: From The Past: With Steve Wittman 20 years ago today. I went flying with him, his prop was a Cessna 150 prop cut down to 62″, and when we were doing 195mph, it was turning 3,600 rpm. Anyone who understands anything about the life’s work of Wittman knows that if the plane would have been 1 mph faster with a 63″ prop, it would have had one. My point is that Bingelis published a lot of great detail design stuff, but when he didn’t have first hand experience, he resorted to vague hangar mythology statements like his one on props, that later generations would treat as some kind of religious body of wisdom, which is a bad concept, in a field where we are supposed to Learn Build and fly.

.

One of the first things people are going to say is that Bingelis’s book has a disclaimer in the introduction. It does, stating that none of the information is guaranteed to work. Actually this is one of the things I dislike about his writing. Go back and read it with a fresh set of eyes. Nearly every chapter has a subtitle disclaimer in it saying ‘this may not work for you, you should ask around. Read his comments on tank sealers: he will not come out and say “Don’t use it” he kind of says it but has a CYA, statement about how you should “ask around for yourself. ” If that was how one was to get information, why was the book written?

.

What is wrong with a Fiberglass tank in the fuselage? First , It is the least crash worthy of any tank material. Second, they put stuff in fuel today that was not even dreamed of when Bingelis’s book was written in 1986.  The stuff can even be regional, and it might be in the tank of fuel you get on a cross country, after years without issue. Third, fuel tank sealers that worked great 15 years ago, don’t reliably work against the ethanol content in fuel today. Fourth, I have done a lot of high end composite work, and most home made fuel tanks including the one pictures are brittle pieces of crap, because the guy who laid them up had no training, and put about twice as much resin in the weave as desirable.

.

So what is the real lesson here? I had a guy tell me that he is building a Pietenpol, and his Piet buddies, told him that Bingelis’s books are “timeless” and that he didn’t need anything other than the plans. I pointed out to him that I own an original set of 1930’s flying and glider manuals, I love them, they worth more than $1,500, but I am not going to build a Pietenpol tank out of soldered tern plate, just because that is what is shown in the plans, and 1930 or 1986, it doesn’t matter, dated information is dated information. Books on aerodynamics structures and physics of flight don’t change, however, books on materials and process do, and only a foolish person would restrict himself to information 30 years old.

.

Today, there are lots of sources for proven information. There are modern day Steve Wittmans, and you should follow them, because their suggestions are based not on quaint sayings, but on tests you can study and understand.

.

.
  .

Above, a fiberglass 12 gallon aux tank that flew for several years in the passenger compartment of my friends Caviler, a wooden low wing plane with a 60mph landing speed. The book is one of Bingelis’s three, immensely popular books. In this one, it details all the attributes of making this kind of tank, even on planes where the tank is in the fuselage, with narry a word about the kind of risk this is. The book was published 30 years ago and Bingels has been dead for 15 years. Perhaps if he was alive he might revise his recommendations in light of modern opinions about such tanks.

.

If you or your buddy have such a tank in your plane, I am not suggesting that it is “Un-airworthy” , but I am asking you as an intelligent human being to do some research and consider things. If your buddy says, “It’s been in there for years, I have seen plenty of them. besides, it is in Tony Bingelis’s book”  Then he is just the kind of mythology spreader I am speaking of, and it is a waste of time to try to get him to think, he just wants an infallible source to cite as validation for him being too cheap or lazy to change it. Please read carefully: If you have seen my story:Steel tube fuselages, “Safe” planes and 250mph accidents, and you decide that you still are ok with this kind of tank, because you have given it open minded thought, I am ok with that, that is actual thinking, not validation.

.

.

Above, dull hatchet, half hearted swipe, and it is right through. Aluminum would do much better, and I doubt any human could put a dull axe through a rotationally molded plastic tank. There are countless plastic tanks, look at SummitRacing.com and search “Fuel Cell” Yes, they are cheaper than the materials in a fiberglass tank.

.

I have been an aircraft mechanic for 25 years. If I was doing an inspection on a 70 year old plane, but only used the AD’s written up to 1986, under the justification that it was a “classic” plane and the information about it couldn’t have gotten any better since 1986, the FAA would take away my License, period. If some one was hurt in the plane because it was not compliant with a post 1986 AD, then I would be looking at a complementary vacation at a federal gated community. Experimental aircraft don’t have AD’s but the logic of using up to date information is exactly the same.

.

Why this stuff matters to me: I have been burned over 40% of my body. I have written very plainly about the experience, and written articles like this: Pietenpol Fuel lines and Cabanes but quite frankly, I think most people don’t really care. Improving the fuel lines in a Pietenpol could be done for about $100 and four hours work, yet, years later, 75% of the planes still have hard fuel lines on them. Some people don’t care, others don’t like me personally and will not improve their plane, just because the suggestion came from me. I write this knowing that the great majority of people will not take the information seriously. I am OK with that, I don’t base my happiness on the actions of others.

.

-ww.

.


.

To read about the contributions of Tony Bingelis to Homebuilding follow this EAA link:

.

http://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/aviation-communities-and-interests/homebuilt-aircraft-and-homebuilt-aircraft-kits/eaa-homebuilt-airplane-programs-and-resources/eaa-tony-bingelis-award/learn-more-about-tony-bingelis

.

Blast from the past 1993-2003

Builders,

I came across an old box of photos from a long time ago. Below is a little sample. Many of the stirred long forgotten memories. Over the years there have literally thousands of builders we have worked with, and I am pretty sure I have actually touched more than 1,000 Corvair engines destined for planes, met their builders, worked with them. I have run 400 or so engines on our test stand. Sounds like a lot, but the work dates back all the way to 1989.

.

The most common ‘complaint’ about Corvairs from people, who have frequently never met me, is that I must have some giant ego. I am not sure how these people missed the fact I am a self described Grease monkey-troglodyte.  My success with Corvairs isn’t because I am so smart, it is actually because I have always been just dumb enough not to know when to quit. The progress was made, not by brilliant insight, but more often by exhausting the permutations of what wouldn’t work, and being very observant of all of the information available, not just the small fraction that served a pet theory.  Ironically, many of the  these critics are the same who need to believe that in their first Corvair engine they have discovered something that eluded detection by myself and all the builders that came with us. That is arguably the very egomania they desperately need to ‘expose’ in others.

.

Enjoy a look into the long past, to see some of the milestones of 27 years of work. I have outlasted nearly all of the alternative engine companies of the last decades. There are a number of skilled, experienced builders, but few who have been continuously at it without break, attending airshows in person from coast to coast. It isn’t a contest, but it is a fair reminder that I am still here and I have left a long trail of compulsive critics in the rear view mirror.

.


,

Above, Grace takes apart a core engine at Corvair College #3 at Spruce Creek Florida, 2002.  With her is Gus Warren and Mark Christmann.

.


.

Above, two eras of Corvair advocates: Left is Bud Rinker, right is a young version of me at Sun n Fun 1995.  Bud developed his ‘Rinker Gearbox’ in the late 1960’s. It worked, but he never personally flew it. His two practical articles with data in 1970 issues of Sport Aviation was actually a great contribution, and provided turbo data we later built on. Bud perished in a car accident about 10 years ago.

.


.

Above, before there was gray hair: Pat Panzera and myself looking at the first Dragonfly / Corvair engine mount I built, 1999 or 2000 at the tandem wing fly in in Kansas.

.


.

Above, Myself and Virl Deal at Brodhead 2000. Virl logged 1,100 hours on his Corvair powered Pietenpol over a 15 year period. The button I am wearing says “This ain’t Oshkosh” a then popular Brodhead motto. I am wearing my father’s hat.

.


.

Above, something different, flying an hour of jet aerobatics in Heintz Peier’s L-39 Albatross. 1993.  My work has crossed my path with that of many interesting characters. Heintz was from Switzerland, but lived at Spruce Creek.  My years at Embry-Riddle and this kind of exposure gave me a lot ‘bigger picture’ than most alternative engine guys. Many people like to talk about “pulling G’s” but most light planes have a lot of drag for their energy. Conversely, the L-39 can sustain 5 g’s for 20 seconds without bleeding off all the energy. It was the limit of what I could take at age 30.

.


.

Above, myself and the illustrious Terry Bailey of alto mud creek GA, 1999. Terry was a character from the world of tandem wing planes. The tail of my Pietenpol expresses thanks to people who believed in what I was doing. Bob Bean was the finest person I ever met in aviation, you can see his picture here: Risk Management reference page, he and his wife Sara perished in a weather related Glass air accident in 2006.

.


.

Above, Jake Jaks and myself, at the conclusion of Corvair College #1, in May of 2000.  Jake went on to fly this engine in his Pober Jr Ace. In 2009 he flew it to Sun n Fun and was greeted by the designer and founder of the EAA. Read the story here: http://www.flycorvair.com/snf2009.html .

.


.

Above, At Paul Poberezney’s SAA fly in at Frasca Field IL, 2003.  I am in the green jacket with muttonchops. Grace was the first guest speaker at the fly in that year. In the black jacket is Tom Brown, who’s 1,600 hours in his Pietenpol makes him the worlds highest time Corvair pilot. In the blue jacket is Bill Knight who owns B.H. Pietenpol’s “Last Original”, Bernard’s last plane which lives and flies out of Brodhead. We are standing in from of Bill’s Waco F-2 replica, which was hand built by Tom.

.


.

Above, In my shop with WWII veteran and builder of 8 experimental aircraft, the late Steve Magill of Florida. The engine seen here later flew on Steve’s Pietenpol.  Take a few minutes to read Steve’s story here: Four Men.  Steve was a Landing Craft Coxswain on D-Day. He wanted me to know me how bad that day was, but he just couldn’t put it in words. He said several times “They were just boys” and “It was murder.” He said that leaving those men on the beach was the worst moment of his life, and it never went away.

.

Grace and I never charged Steve a dime for all the assistance putting his engine together and running it. Most good businessmen wouldn’t ‘waste time’ on a guy with a thin wallet like Steve. That is their loss, they can live in a shallow world worshiping dollars if they choose. For myself, the hours we shared with builders, particularly the ones of Steve’s generation, were their own reward.  This is a concept that the compulsively critical fail to understand.  We have now held 38 Corvair Colleges, and we have never charged anyone for all the things we offered to share at the events. It wasn’t charity, it was an expression of gratitude for men like this:  ERAU – models of integrity #2,   who took the time to freely share with me knowledge they had learned, some of it at a very steep price.  We all live in worlds of our own making, and looking back on the photos gives some satisfaction that I chose to put something positive back in Experimental Aviation, it is small thanks for all that it has brought to my life.

.

-ww.

Air / Fuel ratios on Corvair carbs.

Builders,

Here are some short notes on the topic of carbs.  It is my hope that builders will read and think about them, consider the logic before jumping up to debate. The Comments are based on 25 years as a working aircraft mechanic and working with Corvairs since 1989. These comments are not based on a single planes experience, but take into account all types of testing, education, and practical experience.

.

How Rich is right?  Recently, a builder has told people that correctly running aircraft carbs on Corvairs need to have black sooty tail pipes.  I can flatly state that this is way too rich, and there are a number of very good reasons why you should not fly a carb running that rich.

.
 .

As a logical base line for what exhausts should look like, perhaps we can all agree that an Exhaust of Certified plane, running 100LL fuel, with a correctly running engine, with by the book performance, a Certified aircraft carb running without adjustment for more than 20 years. is a standard we should use. This engine has never fouled a plug in 17 years, has never harmed the engine in any way. Notice that the inside of the exhaust pipe has a dusty light gray color, and that new paper towel was vigorously wiped on the inside of the pipe, and only produced that light stain between my thumb and the exhaust pipe. This is the correct color and soot content for any Corvair running an aircraft carb.  I know this from working with countless flying Corvair powered planes over the years.

.

Why not black and sooty? A correctly running aircraft carb on an air cooled engine will have an air/fuel ratio of about 12:1 in normal cruise. This will automatically go richer, to some thing like 10.5:1 at wide open throttle, and in low power cruise at altitude, it can be leaned to 14:1 for maximum efficiency.  Any engine that is making black soot in the exhaust and can be seen to visibly smoke at 1,000 rpm is running an air/fuel ratio of 9:1 or so. I know this not just from books, and working on certified planes, but from directly reading a laboratory grade A/F meter while running an EFI Corvair on my dyno in 2007:

.

Above, An exhaust evaluation as part of an Electronic Fuel injection test on a 2,700cc Corvair in 2007. It is shown running at power on my dyno. With this arrangement, a simple twist of a knob on the computer produced any A/F ratio you wanted to test. This is how I can say what A/F ratio produces visible smoke on a Corvair, and it is part of how I can speak about it’s relationship with power output.

.

At any airport with a density altitude less than 3,000 feet, your Corvair should run perfectly smoothly and make good power with the mixture set full rich, just like any Cessna 150 with the same carb will do.  One of the reasons why I use MA3-SPA carbs is so they have the exact same ‘normal’ operation as any certified plane I have flown, and if the carb doesn’t work like it does on a Cessna or a piper, don’t fly it, period.

.

……………………………………………….

.

A builder with an MA3-SPA carb reciently said his engine only ran correctly with the mixture pulled half way out. He was considering actually doing his first flight in that condition. His home airport elevation is only 516 feet. If I went to his airport, and got in a Cessna 150 and it took pulling the mixture out half way to run correctly, You could only make me fly that plane with a gun to my head. Something is wrong with it, and sane people do not fly planes with things wrong with them. It doesn’t suddenly become “O.K.” because the carb is now on an experimental. Wrong is wrong, time to correct the issue, not to find some condition where it kind of works for the first flight.

.

Any guy who would consider flying a plane in that condition, has missed the point of this story: Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place. Where Ken Lien was killed on the very first flight of his plane because he didn’t bother to correctly assemble the mixture control on his plane and it moved to idle cut off on its own. If you are in a plane, getting ready for the first flight, and the mixture has to be pulled half way out to run, please explain to me how you know that this isn’t the first sign that the mixture is assembled incorrectly.  You wouldn’t, and there is a significant chance the engine will quit.  People who want to die should step in front of busses, not fly planes that are not set correctly, as using a plane and poor judgment to end ones life only unfairly punishes those of us who practice intelligent flying.

.

…………………………………………

.

If the mixture was half way out on the first flight, and the new pilot had to do a go around on the first approach, most pilots would instinctively push the throttle, carb heat and mixture to the firewall.  This works, and it is the correct procedure. However if the pilot is tolerating a plane that must have the mixture half way out, when he does this, the engine will quit, he will overshoot the runway, and smash up the plane on the over run. All the local experts will then say “The Corvair quit, I told him not to use a car engine, he should have used an O-200” Neatly ignoring the fact that it is the same carb as the O-200, and it would have done the exact same thing.  If instead, the same pilot stepped in front of a bus, preferably while holding the hand of the ‘Expert’ who tells everyone not to use car engines, aviation would benefit, and the rest of us would come out ahead. Cold, but you know it is true.

.

……………………………………………

.

Engines running black soot are wasting fuel, prone to fowling plugs, can damage the cylinder walls, and will have excessive carbon build up. On the other hand……..wait, there is no upside.

.

……………………………………………

.

Anyone who says that an MA3-SPA needs to be jetted differently for different displacement Corvair engines is wrong. Think of how many different engines have run on my test stand, all with the same, untouched in 15 years, MA3-SPA. Note that I have the mixture set full rich on the stand, and it runs cleanly on all engines. And yes, my stand has both EGT and O2 sensors. Beyond this, Dan Weseman and I recently took his 3,000 cc and 3,300 cc Corvairs to one of Florida’s most respected dyno shops and ran them both is a day long session.  What carb did we use? Why the same one off my run stand. It ran perfectly on both motors and the shops very elaborate instrumentation showed that the air/fuel ratio stayed correct through out the power range on both engines, without any kind of adjustment. Aircraft carbs work like that.

.

…………………………………………………

.

Would you like to know how aircraft carbs are supposed to be operated? Read this story: Cylinder Head Temperature measurement and learn what a Lycoming Operations Manual is.  Down load it, print it, read it and know it. This is what successful people will do.

.

Conversely, You could get advice from a guy who is neither an pilot nor an A&P, who has never owned nor flown a plane with a mixture control, teamed up with a guy who has never seen a Corvair turn a prop in person, and another guy who damaged his engine by using a carb no one ever head of so he could save some bucks. Take your pick, but if someone doesn’t like the concept of listening to the professionals and people with experience, again, I am going to suggest that bus thing again, I know it sounds mean spirited, but people willfully doing dumb things shouldn’t even be called ‘accidents’ because they are not really. an accident is someone trying to do the right thing. Willfully choosing not to do the right thing is not an accident.

.

——————————————-

This ends the technical part of this story.  No valid technical information follows.

………………………………………………..

.

I am not listening to William Wynne because:

.

One: He sounds arrogant, and although I have never met him, and he wrote stories about people he loved: Risk Management reference page in hopes that others could avoid being hurt, I still say he is a jerk because I found two sentences in the 855 stories that are on this site that offended me, and I refuse to learn anything from him since.

.

Two: I own a Prius, and he is always mocking people who own Priuses, and I can tell he isn’t kidding, and he feels superior about this, which is stupid because as a Prius owner I alone have a right to feel superior to all other car owners because I know the best way to protest the use of fossil fuels is to buy a car that you can feel superior about.

.

Three: When I was in his tent at Oshkosh pontificating about how America has been ruined because no one follows the Ten Commandments anymore, he asked me to name them, and I couldn’t. The year before I said the problem with America was no one followed the Constitution, and he asked me how many articles it had and I said 10, and he said “guess again, you are off by three” , and I guessed 13.  I don’t get the connection that I should read more before being sure I am right.  I never listen to people with long hair, even though William has essentially the haircut as Jesus and everyone at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

.

Four: I don’t listen to people who sell things, because they are trying to make money off me. I only listen to people on the net who’s opinion about how to do things can’t get them a job doing it, nor is it apparently worth money to anyone. Those are the people I trust.  Yes, I know that I should trust William because he has a vested interest in my success even if he actually likes me or not, But I would rather trust people I have never met, who write in nicer tones, who I have a simplistic childish belief are motivated to tell me the truth, unstained by their limited experience, personal bias, and ego.

.

——————————————————————————-

.

If anyone read the above for points and didn’t find them funny, you probably have good taste, and I remind you I am a mechanic, not a comedian. I have a small but consistent group of people, most who have never met me, who remain quite sure that I have a “Condescending tone” and a “Giant ego”.  Before anyone is temped to say those things, I ask that they read the two paragraphs below, which appear both on my website and in every manual we print, and please share with me how this isn’t adequately honest and frank:

.

“If you have never met me, but read this and think that I am charmed with myself, you got it all wrong. I know countless humans who are better people than I. 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. Even our dog, impeccably honest and loyal as canines are, Loves Grace and only tolerates me.

Honest evaluation leads to harsh thoughts like this. I spend a lot of time alone and have long bouts of insomnia, which can lead to thinking about things excessively. But the secret I would like to share with anyone who at times feels the same way, is that I have a sanctuary where I am insulated from much of my self-criticism, and a have a front, where at 50, I am much better on than I thought possible 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.”

.

ww.

.

First Flight Resources to review

Builders.

I got a short note from a Pietenpol builder, saying he just got the FAA sign off, and will be taking his first flight after a few details are taken care of. It brings up a few things everyone should have in mind at that point. While a general review of this page is in order:  Engine Operations reference page, and everyone needs to have read the flight test plan in the ops manual: http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/2009-corvair-flight-operations-manual/ , I have listed several things below that builders need to have at the forefront of their actions.

.

The number one rule of first flights in anything, but particularly any alternative engine, is the “Two Minute Test.”

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #5, Two Minute Test

.

It should be an indication of how important setting the timing is by the number of stories I have written about it. 20% of the people doing a first flight have never set the timing on their engine. Do not be one of them, the results are not pretty.

YOU MUST SET THE TIMING ON YOUR ENGINE

When to check your timing, Lessons learned Pt#2

Ignition Timing on Corvairs

Ignition timing on Corvairs, Part 2

.

—————————————————-

.

.

Above, a 2007 picture of the homebuilt of Ken Lien of WA state. The following year, he was killed on the very first flight. You can read the story I wrote a long time later here: Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place.  THIS ACCIDENT WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED IF HE RAN A TWO MINUTE TEST. This is not a one of a kind accident, we had two planes wrecked on their first flight in 2015 by pilots who didn’t bother to run a two minute test.

.

By an absolute coincidence, a life long best friend of Ken’s, named Denny Jackson became my neighbor at our airport in FL just after the accident. Denny was deeply hurt by his friend’s death, and finding out that I was the ‘Corvair guy’ lead to him angrily confronting me at our EAA chapter. He was 6’5″ and 325 pounds and not to be trifled with. Because I was part of the investigation, I already knew what Denny did not: It was caused by his friend putting his carb together incorrectly, it had nothing to do with Corvair engines, yet I could not say this to him, I could only ask that he withhold judgment. Months later, Denny understood the report, came and explained that he was just hurt at the loss of his friend. I told him I might have done the same thing.

Read more here: Comments on aircraft accidents.

.

—————————————————

.

Thought for the day: Choosing to be alive ““If the goal of the captain was to preserve the ship, he would never leave port. Most people never do. The goal of the captain is to seek adventure, to meet all the challenges and still achieve the goals, to be In The Arena, not rusting at the pier in the safe harbor.”-ww.

.

 

“God has a sense of humor I am yet to understand”

Builders:

Six months ago I wrote this story: Comments on aircraft accidents, and I would hope that builders who missed it then will take 5 minutes to read it now. It includes important perspectives I would like builders to stop and really consider, like this:

.

“Even if a builder had a god’s eye view of what went wrong in every accident of the type of plane he is building, this still doesn’t tell him anything about what is right, only what is wrong. Study success at least as much as failure.”

.

One of the elements of the story is how often I am called to provide information on experimental aircraft accidents, and the strong restrictions on disclosing any information about ongoing investigations before the final report is issued. To give you some idea about how long a process is, I spent some time last week working with the feds on an accident from the middle of last year. The investigation is now done, but the report isn’t out yet, so there isn’t much I can say about it, but here are a few things:

.

None of the things speculators said on the net were even remotely close to the probable cause, and that includes what the pilot initially thought the issue was. Like the great number of experimental accidents. it would have been prevented if the pilot had just exercised better judgment. The one fortunate thing about the accident was the pilots injuries were low. Most of the people looking at the accident were very surprised he lived. Even people who have seen a great number of accidents, and know the damage can appear random, made comments about how lucky this guy was in light of the choices he made.

.

On this last point, I made the comment in the title of this story. I can share it now because it was not put in the official record. Over the years I have supplied background information and test data for a number of accidents, and you can see it in a number of older final reports. While there isn’t a section for philosophy in final reports, maybe there should be one day. I would certainly like reader of the report to understand that if they replicated the decision making of pilot, they would likely not live.  No one should take this mans survival as an endorsement of his choices, skills or even the strength of the airframe design. When I have to consider it in comparison to a number of very skilled pilots I knew who did not survive their own accidents, (Risk Management reference page),  I can only conclude that “God has a sense of humor I am yet to understand.”

.

——————————————-

.

.

Above, the 1894 Paul Gauguin Painting “Day of the god.” It was inspired by his first visit to Polynesia, today it is in the Art institute in Chicago.  I have long studied the work and life of Gauguin. He was a French impressionist painter who worked beside many of the greatest artists ever; he was close friends with Van Gogh.  He spend almost all of his life without success, in poverty. In 2015, one of his paintings broke the absolute record for highest price ever paid for any painting, $300,000,000 dollars. When negative people criticize your choice to build a homebuilt aircraft, reflect on how many people must have told Gauguin to give up painting.

.

Take a moment to consider that Gauguin thought Paris in the 1890’s, the worlds art and pleasure capitol, was too pedestrian, predictable and moralistic; he spent most of the last decade of his life exploring his primitive side in Tahiti and the Marquesas. The academic description of the painting above is a number of long paragraphs on themes, influences and movements.  I tend to think it is better understood after considering Gauguin’s affections for Drink, Morphine, Laudanum and  Native women.

.

In the last year of his life, Gauguin wrote:

“No one is good; no one is evil; everyone is both, in the same way and in different ways. …
It is so small a thing, the life of a man, and yet there is time to do great things, fragments of the common task.”

He died in 1903 at age 54.

.

—————————————————————

.

Please note: The title of this article is said in jest, It is not a serious comment on Faith, not intended to be offensive to anyone.  It should be considered in the same category as A.E. Houseman’s poignant observation: “Ale does more than Milton can, to justify Gods ways with man.”

.

-ww.