March 31, 2006 FlyCorvair Hangar Update
If you have a cable modem, you can click the photo above to download a 2 minute movie about Phil Maxson's 601XL,
including a lot of flying scenes. This aircraft will be in the Zenith booth at Sun 'N Fun.
Sun 'N Fun is at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Florida April 4 to 10. This is America's second largest
air show. We will be there all week. The easiest place to find us is at the
Zenith booth. I will also be giving forums at noon Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This will be my 18th
consecutive year at Sun 'N Fun. This year, we're planning on flying in four Corvair powered airplanes from our shop.
We've spoken with seven other Corvair Flyers who intend to be there with their airplanes. This is an excellent
opportunity for anyone interested in Corvair power to come out and meet builders of these fine aircraft, and share the
time with other builders working toward the same goal.
Above, Merrill Skymanta Isaacson preps his video equipment. Merrill shot
extensive air to air photos and video of the four Corvair powered airplanes based at our shop. The movie here was also
his handiwork. Certainly there will be more to follow. A special thanks goes to our neighbor, aerobatic pilot Jason
Newburg of InvertedUS.com for flying his Legend Cub as the photo ship.
Above, Gus and Dave working to fine tune Dave's Wagabond. Sharp eyes will notice that we had Sensenich make a
64x35 prop for us to test on Dave's plane. We had been flying it on a 66" Warp Drive.
Dave is partial to wood props, so Gus and I selected this design for his plane. Well meaning but unfounded old wives'
tales suggest that a prop of this size would have a hard time working on a full size plane like Dave's.
As engineering experience and now flight testing show, this prop is an awesome performer on Dave's plane. It turned
2,900+ static, and Gus had it turning near 3,500rpm on a low level 135mph ias pass. The next time someone wants to tell
you some ridiculous tale or theoretical requirement for a 72" prop on a particular airframe, consider that Dave's 100hp
Corvair turning a 64" prop on a two-place side-by-side aircraft could easily outrun the photo plane, a brand new
Legend Cub with a brand new 100hp Continental and, of course, the much touted 72" prop. Testing trumps old wives once again.
Above, Dave The Bear's Wagabond out over the coast. This airplane will be at Sun 'N Fun all week. There's a
traditional parking area on the north end of the field of homebuilts for auto engined aircraft. As soon as we
fly the first planes over, we'll have a quick post to let everyone know where they're parked. I had asked the
Sun 'N Fun staff for a parking row for Corvair powered airplanes, but the request was unusual and did not receive
a response from the powers that be. We'll do our best to reserve a row with the guys who park the planes. If you're
coming to the airshow, just stop by the Zenith booth. We'll let everyone know where the Corvair planes are, and
get all the pilots together for a Saturday morning group photo.
As we recover from our computer crash, it's been slow going to e-mail, retrieve phone messages, check online orders,
print Conversion Manuals, etc. The system's up and running, but not yet 100%. We'll be printing this weekend,
and will fill all the Manual and Video backorders before we leave for Sun 'N Fun. Thank you all for your patience.
A skeleton crew will remain at the hangar during the show, and they'll be concentrating on engine assembly. Please
note the machine will be answering phone calls while we're gone. We'll have cell phones with us, but their coverage
at the air show is hit or miss. We'll resume normal communications after April 10th.
March 16, 2006 Monster Hangar Update
Here's a big update from our hangar. Last night is the first night we've had our computer
back in action in three weeks. We've never previously had serious computer difficulties.
It has been returned from Dell with a major rework. If you've sent an e-mail and we didn't
respond, give us 10 days to get caught up and please resend it. Grace and I both thank
Corvair builder Dave Poirier, who used his computer expertise to save the vast majority of
the data on our hard drive. Hats off to Dave. We owe you one.
What it's all about ... Gus takes to the air in the first flight of Phil Maxson's 601XL.
Phil brought the plane to us at Corvair College #9. We did the
engine installation, wiring and finish work. We've had a lot of stuff going on, and the
plane didn't get our full attention until recently. Gus has already logged three long flights
in the plane. He reports that it flys beautifully. This aircraft will be on display in the
Zenith booth at Sun 'N Fun next month.
In spite of computer problems, R&D, Sun 'N Fun prep, customer service associated with
crank nitriding, and working on Phil's plane, regular parts production is ongoing at a
very high tempo. Here, I'm Tig welding a stainless steel exhaust stub on
our handmade turntable. The brass tube is pumping inert gas inside simultaneously. Note the
handle on the hold down clamp is a Corvair rocker arm. We've knocked out an enormous amount
of back orders, and the lead times have dropped to their shortest time in the past 12 months.
We've now upgraded more than a dozen engines with nitrided crankshafts. Seen here is
Gordon Alexander's 3,100cc case. He brought the engine into the shop to exchange the
crankshaft and rework a number of small details. His Pegzair is nearly done, and will fly
on this engine this year. Above, Gordon's case is aligned using our case alignment tool.
My call for crankshaft nitriding met with a lot of discussion, but it has not been a major
impediment to serious builders. We're expecting perhaps 10 Corvair powered aircraft at
Sun 'N Fun, and virtually every one of them will have a nitrided crankshaft.
R&D is continuous. Our customers are rewarded with ever improving systems and products.
In my hand above is a 93/100 Dual Ignition Distributor.
Each one comes with paperwork and test notes. It is externally identified by the A-5 rivet
above my thumb. This distributor is curved and advanced to allow it to use 93 octane or 100
low lead fuel interchangeably. We've flown this for more than 100 hours in
our own airplane. Tests on the dynamometer indicate
that very little or no horsepower is sacrificed. These distributors are purpose built units
and have extensive internal modifications. Please note that the rest of your fuel
system has to be set up for auto fuel, as discussed in the Conversion
Manual, and I specifically call for 93 octane, not "auto fuel." Those terms are not
I'm known for advocating simplicity in aircraft engines. This recommendation comes
from my experience on the opposite end of aircraft powerplants. Here, our friend
Arnold Holmes and I stand behind the engine installation on a V-8 powered Lancair IV-P.
This is an EngineAir package that I helped develop from 1993 to '98. It's 450hp, geared,
injected, intercooled and turboed, and features air conditioning. This is complication.
Eventually, about a dozen of these took to the air. They were stunning performers. I flew
from Oshkosh to Daytona Beach in three hours and five minutes in our first airplane.
The development of this engine took the work of many clever, dedicated people, and one
guy with cubic yards of money, Jim Rahm. It worked, but taught me that homebuilders at all levels
tremendously underestimate the effects of complication, primarily its delays and expenses.
Whenever I read discussions about electronic injection or computer controlled engines, I
can tell in an instant who has no practical experience with attempting to prepare these
systems for flight. Today, Arnold specializes in Lancair work, and is preparing the above
aircraft for flight. Get a good look at the size of the 5-blade MT propeller.
Gordon Alexander in our shop at a serious moment. Actually, he spends much more time
smiling and laughing. He is first class company with an enormous range of life experience.
A former infantry officer, he's prepared to discuss strategy from the second Peloponisian
War, or sing you his favorite obscure reggae song. The kind of guy who makes a long evening
in the hangar entertaining and productive.
Cleanex creator Dan Weseman with his case, above, newly equipped with a nitrided crankshaft.
The engine is now completely reassembled and installed on his plane. Look for it at Sun 'N Fun.
Phil's plane during painting. Phil left the finish up to us, asking only if could have
some yellow in it. Gus designed the paint scheme. At the end, Phil flew in to assist
and have the aircraft inspected.
Above, Phil gets his airworthiness certificate from legendary DAR Johnny Murphy. Johnny,
from Merrit Island, Fla., has the distinction of building a copy of every Burt Rutan homebuilt
design, with the exception of the Solitaire. He is very well known in Florida, and respected
for his long term experience with homebuilts. He found only a single minor squawk on Phil's
Phil revels in the true satisfaction of a builder at the end of a long journey. Everyone
with a project in their garage deserves to have this day. We're working hard to make this
possible for as many people who are willing to put in the work and display the persistance.
Anyone who's completed a plane can tell you these are the sole requisite qualities.
Our test pilot Gus at the controls of Phil's 601XL on its first taxi test.
After the first flight, we added this smile to Phil's cowl. It's a reflection of
the upbeat mood as we head into the beginning of the flying season, and a new year for
everyone to make this their year in aviation. Look again at the smile on Phil's face and
on his airplane and vow to yourself that this will be your year.
Now At The Hangar
June 2011 At The Hangar
May 2011 At The Hangar
April 2011 At The Hangar
March 2011 At The Hangar
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December 2010 At The Hangar
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January 2008 At The Hangar
Christmas 2007 At The Hangar
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August 2007 At The Hangar
July 2007 At The Hangar
June 2007 At The Hangar
April 2007 At The Hangar
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January 2007 At The Hangar
December 2006 At The Hangar Part 1
December 2006 At The Hangar Part 2
December 2006 At The Hangar Part 3
December 2006 At The Hangar Part 4
November 2006 At The Hangar
October 2006 At The Hangar
September 2006 At The Hangar
August 2006 At The Hangar
At The Hangar In July 2006
June 2006 At The Hangar
At The Hangar In May 2006
At The Hangar In April 2006
At The Hangar In February 2006
At The Hangar In January 2006
At The Hangar In December 2005
At The Hangar In November 2005
At The Hangar In October 2005
At The Hangar In September 2005
At The Hangar In July 2005
OSH, Illinois and SAA June 13, 2005
At The Hangar June 13, 2005 Part II
At The Hangar In May 2005
At The Hangar In April 2005