Corvair College #11
Cloverdale, Calif., November 2007
I've just returned from the Quality Sportplanes hangar in Cloverdale, Calif., where we held the very successful Corvair College #11.
The weather was a mixed bag of rain and severe clear, but everyone who attended has the same tale to tell of good times, a lot of learning, a bit of
flying, friendships renewed and new ones made.
First, our thanks goes out to Michael Heintz, owner of Quality Sportplanes, Zenith Aircraft Co.'s West Coast facility. This was our second event at his place.
Although he's a serious and successful businessman, events at his facility always have the relaxed feel of a natural gathering of aviators. The majority
of people in attendance were 601 builders, but Michael warmly welcomed Pietenpol, KR and all other builders as well. Doug and Lori Dugger, who are
key members of his crew, were also on hand all weekend and kept things organized and flowing. ZenVair builder Woody Harris of Vacaville, Calif., took care of all my
transportation in California. Woody has proven himself to be a good friend to us, and has emerged to be a good resource to West Coast Corvair builders.
Earlier this year, he flew Rick Lindstrom's ZenVair 601 from our shop in Florida to Quality Sportplanes. As his own 601 nears completion, he'll become a
more familiar friend to builders west of the Rockies.
This was our 11th major College, all great events provided by us free to Corvair builders. Besides these, we've held countless free workshops, Night Schools
and forums. If you're new to the land of Corvairs and reading these words, and wonder why we have such support amongst builders and flyers, just look at
the following photos and place yourself in them. While there are a number of good engines in the experimental industry, we are far more than a hardware
supplier. We've earned the respect of builders by traveling far and wide and working shoulder to shoulder, hands on, to directly share what our flight
tests have proven. This is always done in an atmosphere of camaraderie that builders of all types of planes appreciate. I look forward to seeing you at
the next event.
Our host, Michael Heintz, at left above, joins me in presenting the EAA Copperstate Fly In Award for Best Alternative Engine. This was awarded to
Rick Lindstrom, center, for his 601, behind us. Proud moments like this await any builder who completes his airplane.
Two weeks earlier, Michael had flown the airplane on an 18-hour round trip to Arizona for the show.
Hundreds of Southwest builders got a chance to see Rick's plane in person, and it was given the award at the end of the weekend. Rick was on hand at the
College, and had a chance to meet many fellow builders. His plane has been used as a demonstrator at Quality Sportplanes the past several months. A number
of the builders took demonstration flights in it Sunday at the College. Rick's airplane was the first Zenith quick build kit ever produced and it now has about
100 hours on it.
While the turnout was smaller than previous East Coast colleges, those who attended #11 were easily the best prepared group we've ever had at a College.
Virtually every builder attending already had a core motor and had done substantial homework. Several had engines that already were complete, and one
already has his FAA sign off for his test flight. The group asked good questions, and recorded the answers in writing and on video. Although the work was
fast paced, the mood was laid back and the facts were accompanied by an easygoing banter that pervaded the weekend. We had no set hours, but many builders
were in attendance by 8 a.m. Friday, stayed well into the night Friday and Saturday, and only headed home when darkness fell on Sunday.
The jackets show you how chilly it was and the smiles show you how much fun people are having. From left to right, Darrel Jones, veteran of
Corvair College #5 and owner of the Corvair powered Pfeifer Sport, a parasol built by the legendary Joe Pfeifer; ZenVair 601 builder
Woody Harris - his background in automotive racing extends from California to England; Bay Area ZenVair 601 builder Joe Sharit, who's working
up some serious progress for 2008; ZenVair 601 builder Patrick Hoyt of Minnesota flew in commercially and took the long distance award; and ZenVair 601
builder Ken Smith from the L.A. area whose plane is done, running and signed off. Ken's ZenVair stands a good chance of being the 16th to fly.
Standing beside me at right above is Dick Otto, Corvair builder from Northern California. Although Dick just got into Corvairs this year, he brought an
entire collection of engine parts meticulously prepped. We used his stuff to demonstrate case assembly and installing the piston-rings-cylinder assemblies.
Dick was a real trooper, working during the chilly mornings and staying late into the night. He drove about 100 miles to get to the College, and to stay
close to the action, he chose to camp out near the airport. As it was Veterans Day, Dick shared with us the experience of crewing a self-propelled 105 mm
in a U.S. Armored Division drive into Germany in Spring 1945. Now read this sentence slowly: Dick Otto is 86 years old. He logged time in the mid-1930s, but
has not piloted an aircraft since. He has a common story where a youthful love of aviation is interrupted by the responsibilities of a family life. But he's
absolutely serious about returning to aviation after a short 70-year break. If his prep work for the College is any indication, I'd say he's a strong bet
to take to the air again.
Dick Otto, left, supervises a crew of builders assembling pistons and rings into cylinder bores. I brought a couple of the wooden assembly jigs from
Florida, and gave them to builders at the College. My checked luggage also included Rich Vetterli's Exhaust System, a number
of Gold Hubs, Safety Shafts and Hybrid Studs packed in with my clothing. As expected,
I got it back with the TSA brochure inside explaining that the luggage had been fully inspected.
Although it was chilly and rained all day Saturday, Sunday dawned bright and clear. Michael took the opportunity to use Rick's plane to take a number of
builders aloft. Cloverdale is an exceptionally beautiful airport with the kind of landscape that makes the Golden State famous. There's a hillside
paralleling the runway but both approaches are clear and it's an easy airport to fly into.
The Brothers Johnson, straight out of Utah. Charlie on the left and Bob on the right are both Dragonfly builders and pilots. Both their planes have
previously flown on VW power, but they're in the process of switching to Corvairs. Bob brought a whole engine to the College which we put through a
thorough inspection. He generously shared a set of main bearings with another builder who had mistakenly left his at home. Bob's plane has a couple of
flights on VW power, the traditional engine for the Dragonfly. But living in Ogden, Utah, these brothers face some serious altitude flying, and as the photo
shows, neither of them had a career as a jockey. Charlie's Dragonfly has many, many hours on VW power, but he shared a lot of photos with us of his
Corvair installation, which includes one of our Nosebowls, and is almost complete. He is an engineer and something of a rocket
scientist by trade. He's best known by his Internet handle, OneSkyDog. Grace and I first met Bob and Charlie at the Field of Dreams Tandem Wing Fly In at
Ottawa, Kansas, eight years ago.
The College gave us a chance to catch up with builders. I stayed busy and didn't get a chance to take a lot of photos, but the group was small enough that
I had a chance to talk to everyone individually. A sample of people who were on hand included Pietenpol builders Mike Weaver and Ben Williams of California,
Rick Holland of Colorado and old friend Jim Boyer of California. The long distance driving award went to Ron "Smitty" Smith, a KR-2S builder from Arizona.
Bruce McCaskey, a 701 builder from Colorado, videotaped a lot of the technical portions of the College. Rich Vetterli brought his complete engine with Gold
Hub and Gold Oil System. He had some humorous comments about what you lose when you drive a PT Cruiser. Tom Kelso, Jabiru 230 airframe builder from California,
is pretty sure he wants to use a Corvair to power it. Jim Lo Bue, a ZenVair 601 builder, came straight out of Compton in Southern California. Jim Brown attended
with his wife and family to get a good look at the Quality Sportplanes facility. Mike Studer, a Cassut builder from California, whose Corvair engine craftsmanship
is frequently pictured on the Net, was on hand to share the event. Mike Lacey, a California ZenVair 601 builder, flew his Bonanza in. Kestutis Sliupas recently
made a coast to coast trip to pick up a Wagabond project he intends to power with a first class Corvair. Our friend Micah came down from Washington and shared
his extremely well thought out ideas for a one-off Corvair powered aircraft of his own design. Chris Lewis also came in from Washington. He's building a
very special Corvair powered 701 with modifications approved by Chris Heintz. Gordon Dahlman, a U.S. Air Force Vietnam vet and A&P with a racecar background,
is now switching from 4-wheeled creations to 3. And Jared Geary, Corvair College #10 veteran from Virginia who's currently working
mosquito control in Los Angeles, brought his friend Katia to the event. She took her first flight in a light airplane at the College and loved it. A great
beginning to a long adventure.
More photos of the event are at Michael Heintz's Quality Sportplanes Web site:
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