Corvair College #17
Spring Break 2010
Two weeks have passed since Corvair College #17 March 18-21, 2010 in Orlando. It was so overwhelmingly great, we needed a chance to recover before putting up these photos.
In the past, I've offered long descriptions to attempt to paint a picture of each event. 17 was such an immersion experience, for four days we actually did not
leave the airfield. We worked all day together, all sat down to dinner, and split the evenings between working in the hangar and hours around the campfire.
We got up early every morning and did it all over again. A lot of technical seminars in aviation cost several hundred dollars, and consist mostly of watching
PowerPoint presentations in the Holiday Inn banquet room. Once you attend a Corvair College, you will not look at the phrase "technical seminar" the
same way ever again.
Special thanks goes out to all the people at the event who contributed many of the following phostos: George Schuld, Dan Glaze and a special nod to Mark Langford,
who sent us many of the best images that follow. The photos are not in chronological order. Nor are the memories of the event. It's just one good memory
after another popping into our heads. It's only 50 weeks till Arnold hosts Corvair College #20. We'll see you there. In the meantime, enjoy.
Above, introductions at the beginning of Day 2. At my side is James Barrett. I'm introducing him as the Longest Distance Traveled Winner. He was in
rural Afghanistan a few days earlier. His route to the College was more than 12,000 miles.
Three cheers for Carroll Jernigan. His engine ran the first day of the College. It was the first of about a dozen.
Roy Szarafinski volunteered to come down from RoysGarage.com in Michigan and help out. This was his fourth Corvair College.
Mark Petniunas, the man behind Falcon cylinder heads, flew in commercial from Wisconsin for the event. Check out his Web site at www.FalconMachine.net for
new lower prices. Mark has been volunteering since Corvair College #9.
Above, the ever present Dan Weseman. Dan came as a Corvair pilot in the Wicked Cleanex, a volunteer with Fly5thBearing.com and a regular guy there to
have fun with the rest of the gang.
More characters on hand. At left, Rick Lindstrom, Corvair pilot and engine editor for Kit Planes magazine, host of CC #13 and the upcoming
CC #18, date to be announced. At center, Brother Roy. On the right, Jim Weseman and his lovely wife Rhonda, the other half of Fly5thBearing.com, and JSWeseman.com,
Dan's technical presentations on the installation of his bearing were very popular. Nine of them were installed at the College.
On the right above, Bill Zorc of Florida, experimental enthusiast, ATP, all around good guy and veteran of many Corvair events, with a case destined for a Warner Sportster. On
the left is his stepson Jeff Fouts. Jeff enjoys working on cars, and Bill has been breaking him in on airplanes a bit at a time. They got to skeet shoot a bit on Friday night just before dinner.
Cliff Rose, veteran of CC #12 and #16, above with his shortlbock. Molded plastic painting plugs are available from Roy.
Cliff's engine is now about 90% complete. Cliff is building a Cleanex.
Mark from Falcon, above left, supervised the installation of his Falcon heads on the engine of Ron Lendon of Michigan, at right. The engine, with a Roy bearing,
was assembled start to finish at the College. It ran great on the last day.
Morbid humor at its finest: Gerry Scampoli of Massachusetts and I compare right arms above, both covered in skin grafts.
The 2008 and 2009 Cherry Grove Trophy Winners: Mark Langford, at left above, and Dan Weseman, with the hardware. We award this annually to the Corvair pilot who makes the greatest contribution to the
Corvair movement. Ever modest, Dan asked, "How many times can I win this?" There's only six more slots on the trophy before it's permanently
Steve Sims of the Florida Panhandle assumes the famed Superman position. This is where you lie prone on the bed rail of the pickup truck the dyno is bolted to, and "Fly" behind your Corvair engine running for the first time.
Late night around the camp fire. Although we'd planned for skeet and trap shooting, the engine building and flying consumed every daylight hour for us. Shotgun
work was restricted to merriment and noisemaking in the wee hours. Mark Langford commented that it was the first time that he had used a .12 gauge since he was
a boy. Fond family memories.
Ron Lendon, savoring the moment of birth.
A Florida orange with modern art from the firepit. We fed cases with defects into the bonfire. After it cooled the last day, we had an 80 pound ingot with
a very cool texture. Here it is in the back of Jim Waters' pickup truck headed for Pennsylvania.
Above, Grace with the crew from Philly: Jim Waters at right, and Paul Reppert. Jim took home a custom Mount for his Fisher Horizon. This is the latest in the
50-odd Corvair Motor Mount designs I have built.
Mark from Falcon spent a few extra days at our place working on some R&D and having a little fun. I shot this photo of him in the back seat of an RV-4 when
we departed St. Augustine airport. The buildings in the photo are Northrup-Grumman; the road is U.S. 1. In the front seat of the RV-4 is Dave Dollarhide, who was
featured in my story Nov. 20, 2009.
Steve Makish, above left, with Bob Lester, were among the earliest Corvair/KR pilots. Each of them brought a freshly overhauled Corvair to test run at the
College. Their engines have ben through many evolutions, but currently feature Dan bearings, Front Starters and
Gold Components. Steve's engine has a 3" stroke crankshaft in it from Brady McCormick.
Carroll Jernigan of Tennessee savors the breeze generated by his engine.
Bob Lester ran his engine at night, when it was good and chilly in the prop wash. Here's a joke I often tell about Bob: What do you call a guy who owns a
Stinson, a Pietenpol and a KR? Answer: A Bachelor.
Steve Makish learned from Bob's night run and ran his engine during the warmth of the day. Bob and Steve are both from the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area.
Buttercup builder Eric Klee of Florida putting together his case. Eric's hard efforts were frustrated by having a crankshaft that was improperly threaded by
a careless machinist. I urge every Corvair builder to send their crank to Moldex in Michigan to avoid this hassle.
Mark Langford enjoying my witty wife Grace.
James Barrett, above left, with his Dad John Pitkin of Texas, center, and host Arnold Holmes.
Above left, old friend Kari Monaghan stops by the College. Not only is she an A&P, she is the Director of Inspections for Embry Riddle's highly respected
Engine Repair Station. This woman is a serious motorhead, a well-known expert on Lycomings. Years ago, when we were developing the crankshaft nitriding process,
we brought several test cranks to Embry Riddle at the end of the day. Kari, who was on her way out to a special awards dinner in a black dress and heels,
paused long enough to magnaflux them for us. Note to bachelors thinking of sending a marriage proposal: It's a long list.
Arnold's better half, Stephanie, knows how to keep things in perspective. Nothing's worth getting upset about when the sun is shining and you've got a brand
Old School Reunion Time. Original Hangar Gang members Dave The Bear Vargesko, above left, and Steve Upson enjoying the College.
Chris Smith sits in the Son of Cleanex accompanied by fellow Corvair pilots Mark Langford and Dan Weseman.
From left above, Grace and Mark Langford with surprise guest visitor Brandon Tucker. Brandon showed up in uniform. He is flying rotary wing equipment today, but
he is a former F-18 pilot for the U.S. Navy. Right above his thumb is the picture of his Corvair powered Zenith HDS gracing the cover of our
Zenith Installation Manual.
Gerry Scampoli of Massachusetts savors the moment. His 2,700 cc Dan bearing engine with Falcon heads is destined to power his 750. Every engine that ran
at the College or flew in was actually equipped with a 5th bearing.
Arnold's hangar faced directly west. Every night, just when the action slowed down for the dinner break, there was a magic 30 minutes at sunset when everything
seemed very surreal to me. These were some of the nicest moments I've ever had in the Corvair movement.
Above, Arnold is flanked by the Brothers Upson: Dave at left is wearing a shirt from one of our earliest Corvair Colleges, and Steve is wearing one from
Here are two of the half dozen cases that were recycled into art. Tailwind builder Tom Cummings of Louisiana quietly mused, "That's one way to remove the studs."
I'd brought a number of spare cases to the College that had perfect bearing bores, as verified by Roy. One of the best things about Corvairs is that their low
cost takes away any motivation or temptation to use marginal parts in a rebuild.
From left above, host Arnold Holmes, and Jacksonville builders Vicki and Gary Coppen. Builders hung around the campfire in the middle of the campground till the wee hours every night. The airport owners provided a fresh keg of beer each night.
These hours are the ones that build the bonds of friendship in the Corvair movement. Plenty of good people in aviation are satisfied to buy a Rotax and operate it.
Others might be worried about being associated with an event that involved experimental aviation, real characters, guns and beer. That's ok too. For the rest of
us who are looking for something more and aren't concerned with what other people think, we have the Corvair movement. Grace says God Bless America.
Dan Heath awash in the prop blast of his 2,700 Roy bearing engine destined to re-power his KR.
Here starts a series of Mark Langford's photos. He took the above shot uppon arrival. The hangar row is the little chain of white buildings. If you're not
familiar with Florida, one of the unique things about the state is how mixed the land use is. This farmland is less than 20 miles from downtown Orlando, a city of
a million people.
Dan Glaze of Ohio, at right above, working on his engine.
KR guys Pete Klapp, above left, and Ron Willett, center, both of Ohio, with Dan Heath of Columbia, S.C.
Three guys who worked very hard to make the College what it was: From left above, Jose Soto of Florida and Larry and Taylor Hudson of Indiana in the foreground.
Jose functioned as Arnold's righthand man, and the Hudson father-son team brought in and broke down many cores.
At center above, only Linus notices the camera in the bustle of productivity.
The Av-Mech.com hangar is surrounded by agricultural fields growing mostly cabbage. At several points during the College, the work crew in this photo came within 200 feet
of the hangar. Most people in each group didn't notice the other, but for the handful of people who took a moment to think about it, it was a serious
juxtaposition of different worlds. I personally don't feel that I've earned all the luck that I've enjoyed in life.
After another successful run, the engine hoist is broken out and the Dynomometer is reloaded with a fresh engine.
While most are enjoying a late dinner, one builder enjoys a solitary moment in Arnold's hangar.
601 XL builder and owner Alan Uhr of Florida, above left, with Dan Weseman.
Three photos of a moment in the night.
Mark Petz, and Arnold Holmes, far right, joking with Grace and I.
Our old Port Orange neighbor Paul Harris arrives in his O-200 powered Cassutt, above. With a 17-foot span, this is actually a long wing Cassutt. The standard
models have only 15 feet of span. I have long awaited the first builder-completed Corvair-powered Cassutt. It will likely be the fastest Corvair powered
Chris Smith arrives in the Son of Cleanex, above.
About 65 of the 100+ people who attended the event are pictured in the photo above, which closes out the Mark Langford series of photos.
How big a bonfire does it take to serve as a foundry? This big.
A nice overview of a Sunny Saturday in Paradise.
Lunchline: Arnold's meal plan worked out great. No one had to leave the airport to be fed. Chow was available nearly continuously. The most impressive thing about
the College was the 40 gallons of coffee that were brewed and consumed.
A complete Dan bearing kit awaits installation above. At the College, Dan and his family delivered Fly5thBearing.com Set #100 to
Corvair College #1 veteran Tom Cummings.
A freshly disassembled core brought in by the Hudsons. Which College will it run at? What will it power? Which College will it fly to? How will the
building experience change the life of the person who invests the time to really learn what has been discovered, tested and flight proven in the Corvair movement?
A lone builder studies an engine well under way. It's hard to see in the photo above, but the cam gear in this engine is protected by a thick cardboard mat.
A video of the event has been posted at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfa85e3ibI4 by Jon Croke of HomebuiltHelp.com. Although Jon's been to countless aviation events, it
was his first Corvair College and he was blown away by the hands on nature and total immersion experience.
By the middle of the event, engine runs were so common that they didn't draw large crowds outside. The engines just provided sweet background music, inspiring
the work inside.
Above right, Jim Weseman, and Dan at center, both gave inspiring speeches at the Saturday night dinner. Their reflections on the work and rewards of playing
a major role in the Corvair movement had a theme to which every builder could relate: Nothing that provides a lasting sense of achievement is easily
accomplished. When you get it right, only people who have worked for their own achievement as well will really be able to understand, and that's the
real bond inside the Corvair movement.
The above photo shows Tom Cummings with his engine running at our hangar the week after the College. Tom got started with the assembly of his engine at
CC #17 after recently retiring from a very demanding career in the Lousiana Department of Environmental Quality. We have known Tom for a long time. He was one
of the handful of people who attended CC #1.
I have stayed at Tom's place in
Louisiana before, so Grace and I returned the favor by having him up to
finish his engine at our place. Although a week has passed since the College, Tom's
engine really seems like a last component of CC#17, attached directly to
the event because he started assembly there, and chipped away at it every
Here is what is on the other side of the coin, so to speak: He is one of the most
unique people I have as a friend, a real pleasure to spend time with. If I
didn't get into this branch of aviation, and do it the way we have, I would
never have met him. At dinner after the engine run, we shared stories of the first time we
each saw The Great Waldo Pepper, and Tom told us how he cashed in his life's
savings when he was in his 20s to get a type rating in a North American B-25
because he had always liked the film 30 Seconds Over Tokyo.
In America today, and perhaps a lot of other places as well, people are
becoming more homogenized. While they don't all think alike, they often
sound more like each other, have similar concerns, many of the same tastes, and
some predictable opinions. You meet fewer real characters in a year, and
more people who remind you of someone else, someone you can't quite place a
name on, until you realize it isn't one person at all, they are just
reminding you of the mass of the population: inoffensive, but not very interesting,
mostly good people, they often just let themselves get complacent. Tom is
just the opposite of this. He doesn't sound, think or act like everyone
else, and that's interesting in my book.
I think it is fair to say that experimental aviation has a very high
character quotient, and getting to know these people is the real reward of what
I do for a living. After you have seen the inside of 3 or 4 hundred
Corvairs they do tend to look a lot alike. But the people who are attracted to the
movement come in a very broad variety of colors.
Twenty years ago I go started in the aerospace world with a bunch of
classmates that were the kind of young people that make you proud to be an
American. Most of my friends were smarter, more motivated, and very driven. They
have been rewarded in the past decades with great adventures in aviation.
But not a single one of them can say that they have worked with a greater
number of first class characters than I have. Financial rewards are spent and
gone. Accolades and awards fade, and are rarely understood by the next
group through. Experiences are priceless, but they are constantly fading into
the past. Friendship is the only living reward, that always has a future,
whose value is destined to increase. In the end, I am glad that a lot of
people ran engines, and others made a lot of progress, and we certainly had a
memorable time, but weeks later my spirits stay elevated because I am
having fun with people I hope to know for the rest of my life.
"Real freedom is the sustained act of being an individual." WW - 2009
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