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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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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 .

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

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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.

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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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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:

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

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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-ww.

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

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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

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