750 Installation Under Way
Junior Ace Engine
Up & Running
High Tech Zenith 601
Corvair College #14 Update
Five weeks to go till Sun 'N Fun starts on April 21 at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (Identifier LAL) in Florida. Continuing a six-year tradition, Sebastien Heintz has again invited us to display our products in the
Zenith Aircraft booth. Sun 'N Fun is a very busy place with a lot to check out, but Corvair builders can get focused by coming to see us in the Zenith booth. Both
Mark from Falcon and Dan Weseman from Fly5thBearing.com will be with me to cover questions on their products. As you'll see a little later, Gus is working to bring
his project 750 to the airshow.
This will be my 21st consecutive year at Sun 'N Fun. If we reviewed the airshow brochure from 1989, we'd see that only a dozen or so experimental aviation companies
with prominent displays remain in business today. Back then, Kit Fox and Avid Flyer both had very large, active displays. The Subaru EA-81 was the auto engine
conversion of the day, but most magazines proclaimed that Honda engine conversions would succeed it. The business landscape looks different, but the homebuilding
roots of the event remain the same.
The Corvair's popularity today is due largely to our steady work to meet the needs and expectations of the grassroots homebuilder. We've held 13 major Corvair
Colleges across the country and into Canada. We've traveled tens of thousands of miles and met builders at air shows, forums, night schools, EAA meetings and in
their workshops. We've earned the trust of thousands of builders one at a time.
If this year will be your first Sun 'N Fun, I highly encourage you to come get to know the Corvair. I've said many times that there's a place at the table for
just about everyone.
Below is my forum Schedule for Sun 'N Fun 2009. These will all be in in Contact! magazine's Forum Tent #10 near the museum:
Noon Wednesday, April 22: Converting and Flying Corvair Engines
Noon Friday, April 24: Converting and Flying Corvair Engines followed by
1 p.m. Friday: Converting and Flying 1/3 Corvair Engines
Noon Saturday, April 25: Converting and Flying Corvair Engines
The Zenith 750 is a long-awaited LSA model that is now avialable from the factory. It is a two-seat, high wing aircraft, splitting the difference between a 701 and
an 801. At this point, the only one flying in the world is the yellow prototype featured on the cover of the January 2009 issue of Kit Planes magazine.
The leading contender to be the first customer built aircraft flying is now coming together in the hangar of Gus Warren in Edgewater, Fla. Corvair fans know
Gus as an original member of our Corvair Hangar Gang and a known personality in the land of Corvairs. (Gus' Web site recently
changed hosts and can now be found at flywithgus.net.) Zenith delivered the first 750 kit to Gus, and plans have been made to display the aircraft at
many airshows Zenith covers.
The Zenith factory prototype 750 is O-200 powered. Corvair builders have already expressed great interest in the aircraft, and Gus came to me for an
engine package for the plane. Over the past few months, we worked out a plan for me to prototype a Corvair installation on his 750. Below are some photos of the
process. We'll have more updates along the way, but coming to Sun 'N Fun will be your best chance to get a look at the airframe and engine.
Above is the 750 engine running on our dyno up at our place. It's a 2,700 cc engine, and utilizes all of our Gold
System components. I built the dyno in August of 2004. It continues to serve us well. We've used it to gather an enormous amount of data, as well as test run
about 70 Corvair engines.
The front view of the 750 engine, above. The oil line running up to the nose shows that this engine is equipped with a fifth bearing. We selected a
Dan Weseman bearing from Fly5thBearing.com for this engine because it is an excellent value and easy installation. Dan's bearing is now flying on half a dozen planes,
and has been installed and test run on numerous others.
This photo was shot a few days ago in Gus' hangar. My father and I drove a hundred miles down to deliver the engine and install it on the Motor Mount I made for
the 750. Gus has built numerous Zenith designs, including the 601, 701 and 750. He pointed out that the 750 has all the qualities of its predecessors, but has a
highly evolved construction style that makes it even easier to build. The matched hole tooling of the kit eliminates most of the layout work and jigging. Zenith
aircraft have always been known as some of the fastest designs to build. The 750 kit carries this one giant step further. The Corvair was an excellent fit to
the airframe, and my Motor Mount design went right on.
The side view of the installation above shows that many of the components that we developed in 2004 for the
601 Installation will also fit on the 750. By Sun 'N Fun we will expand our 601 Installation Manual to cover the
650 and 750 as well. This is the latest round of developmental work we've done with Zeniths that all started with Grace and I buying our own 601 kit
Although some other Corvair installations have flown quite successfully with rear starter installations, a quick glance at these photos shows that the
additional bracing for the cabin structure precludes the use of a rear starter on the 750. One builder questioned me on this, and I pointed out that an in-person
study of the weight and balance of the aircraft shows that a hypothetical rear-start Corvair engine moved several inches forward to clear the tubes would only be
in balance with a very large ballast weight in the tail, something no legitimate aircraft builder would condone.
Our installation holds the Corvair at the optimal weight and balance point and requires no ballast. The Gold Oil System and a
Front Starter allows the engine to be tucked back far enough to achieve this. We'll have more on flight testing as it develops.
Above is a photo of our Gold Oil Billet Pan on the 750. This shows an easy way to safety wire the magnetic drain plug included in
our Oil Pan Installation Kit.
Jaks' Junior Ace Engine
Above is Jake Jaks at the test run of his Jr. Ace engine at our hangar. Jake Jaks is Corvair College #1 graduate, and was the first guy to ever fly a
Pober Junior Ace on Corvair power. A while back, he brought his engine to us for an internal checkout. A cylinder head instrumentation error that read falsely low
coupled with excessively lean carburetion led to a blown head gasket. The Corvair, being a tough engine, still ran. Just not so good. Now set up with a properly prepped
carburetor and corrected instrumentation, Jake is reinstalling the engine and working up a plan to fly it to Sun 'N Fun.
The engine is a super simple conversion
that budget-minded builders could use as a blueprint. Over the years, we've devoted a lot of effort to testing elaborate systems like fuel injection and our
Fifth Bearing. Much less publicized is my work exploring the most economical aspects of Corvair building. Most builders end up using the bulk of my work between
the two extremes, but it is worth noting that my research supports all types of Corvair installations, and although we make a broad range of sophisticated products for
the Corvair, promoting them takes a back seat to getting the right engine combination for every builder's project and associated budget.
Here's a photo of the balancer end of Jake's Pober engine. Note that it uses the stock Corvair oil filter housing and oil filler neck. My first choice for any engine
is our Gold System. But a limited number of aircraft can use this system for builders on an extremely tight budget. Note that it's
entirely compatible with our Intake. This engine is set up for an external oil cooler which will be rigged like P.F. Beck's Corvair
powered Pietenpol. The pan on Jake's engine had to be modified with a welded pickup boss; on the Gold System, this comes right off the housing. There are a number of
technical reasons why the stock GM system won't work well on a Zenith 601, 650, 701, 750, nor on a Cleanex.
Grace's Taylorcraft on the runway at sunrise. The frost is an indicator of the 28 F temperature on this particular morning. This aircraft is equipped with a
Stromberg NAS-3A carburetor feeding its 85 hp Continental. The Stromberg is an excellent choice for any gravity feed Corvair powered airplane. It carburates accurately
without adjustment, operating through frosty mornings to 100 + F days. In all the years Grace has owned and flown this aircraft, it's never once let out a single
hiccup in flight.
Wittman Project Update
The above photo shows our Wittman/Luce Buttercup project jigged up during my development of its Motor Mount. Although we've had the project for more than a year,
progress has been very slow. We do not work on our own projects when we have customer orders on hand. Some delays are caused by supplier issues. Delays
caused by a heavy workload due to the popularity of Corvairs are a different issue. Our own stuff comes after customer work.
Developing a new Motor Mount for any installation takes a lot of work. In the Buttercup's case, I studied its drawings and all the drawings that came with my
Tailwind, did a rudimentary stress analysis on it, and spent a lot of time on the phone with Earl Luce discussing weight and balance vs. flight characteristics.
Over the years I've designed and built more than 35 motor mounts for 31 different airfrasme designs. It's a long process to get it right, and twice (601, PegVair)
I've built three prototypes before being satisfied with the design.
More than once, unscrupulous people have gotten access to a finished Motor Mount I've designed
and built, then constructed a jig from it and tried to offer mounts for sale on the Internet. While some shortsighted people have pointed out that this is
technically difficult to define as theft, most people realize it is not difficult to define as wrong. Several years ago, my parents came to Sun 'N Fun and saw
the product of our years of hard work and builders' appreciation for it. At the end of the visit, my father quietly said to me, "Well done." It was a proud
moment in my life. I almost feel sorry for people whose efforts to make copies of our parts deny them such a moment.
Above is a photo of the exhaust system from our dynomometer. Notice that the mild steel pipes are completely eroded and perforated in the first 90 degree
turn after the exhaust manifold. These pipes are thick walled mild steel. The total time on these pipes is probably under a hundred hours. During break in runs,
I never allow the engine to run lean, as it would lead to even higher EGTs. A hole in an exhaust system inside an engine compartment is a serious invitation to
an in-flight fire. This is why we make all our Exhaust Systems from stainless steel. I made some of our prototype exhausts years ago
from mild steel, and then had them ceramic coated inside and out; these proved durable, but interior ceramic coating is done by very few shops, and is actually
more expensive than stainless steel exhausts. On the Internet recently, someone wanting to make a buck proposed making mild steel exhaust systems with cheap,
external only, ceramic coating. When, understandably, builders were not impressed, this person went on to make the preposterous claim that mild steel was more
durable than stainless in exhaust systems. Such a statement undermines anything this person will ever say again.
Old School Instruction
Last December, I ended my bid to be the longest running student pilot in aviation history. I'm now the proud holder of a Sport Pilot License. On the left above is
Bob Burbank, my designated examiner. The occasion was a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bob getting his pilot's license. In addition to being an
examiner, he is well known as a serious old school instructor in gliders and light aircraft. On the right is my instructor, the legendary Chuck Nelson.
Chuck has been flying for almost 60 years. His background includes flying in the U.S. Air Force, cropdusting, water bombing, weather modification, racing at Reno,
successfully landing on the Hudson long before Sully and working with both Duane Cole and Curtis Pitts. His long list of former students covers people working in every
branch of the military, most major airlines, and a U.S. aerobatic champion. Ten years ago, Chuck was Grace's flight instructor. At the time he actually allowed me to solo
his classic aircraft even though I couldn't get insurance or hope to pay for it if I prannged it. Over the years I never spent much effort to get my license because few
instructors were teaching the the kind of old school stick and rudder flying that appealed to me. With my wife and most of my friends being skilled qualified pilots, I settled
into being a perennial student. Last November, Chuck called to say that he was going to "kick my ..." if I didn't take the written and finish in 30 days. He and Bob are both
sticklers for correct flying. My exam took half a day. When it was done, it was very satisfying and I finished with a few days to spare from knowing Chuck's
High Tech 601
Above, Louis Kantor takes a break from polishing his Zenith 601 XL in our hangar. The reflection of Grace's Taylorcraft tail can be seen on the
underside of the wing. Louis and his friend Vince Olson are putting the finishing touches on a very sophisticated 601 XL at our place. They're shooting to have
the airplane at Sun 'N Fun. It has a 2,700 cc engine with a Dan Weseman Fifth Bearing on it. It features all of our installation components, including
most of the Gold Systems. It will function as the flight testbed for our 60-amp rear alternator setup we're contemplating as another option for builders.
Above, Vince at left and Louis at right on either side of their panel. It features dual Dynons and a fully integrated Garmin 496. Ten years ago, a panel with this
much capability for a Lancair IV cost about $100,000. Today, the same capability costs about 1/8th as much.
Both Vince and Louis are 31, hold ATP ratings, and fly for the majors. Between them, they have more than 13,000 flight hours, the majority in very sophisticated
turbine aircraft. They both started as flight instructors, and have good G/A backgrounds. This is some serious experience, and I consider it a compliment that
they selected the Corvair and our Installation Products. Like many other people we know, they started as customers and have become friends.
They are both very mechanically inclined, which dispells the dual myth that airline guys and Generation X don't know how to turn wrenches with traditional
motorheads. The photo above shows their panel at full power, basking all in a glow of instrumentation. It's an impressive airplane we look forward to seeing at
Sun 'N Fun.
Up and Running
Lynn Knoll sent us in this photo of his Corvair powered Piet fired up and running. He included a lot of nice words on how great it ran and what a satisfying project
it was with his son Kevin. His engine includes a lot of our Installation and Conversion Products. Hats off to Lynn Knoll.
Zersis Mehta of South Florida sent us this photo of his ZenVair 601 flying in the beginning of 2009. This newly completed aircraft was done by Zersis in a very
short period of time. He got started with a core engine he picked up at one of our Edgewater Corvair Colleges, which he took home and
rebuilt himself. His engine and installation feature virtually every part we make for the Corvair and Zenith installation. Despite a full-time day job as an
engineer, Zersis knocked off the project in about two years of steady work. He's now out flying the fruits of his labors.
"Thanks again for your help," Zersis said. Hats off to Zersis Mehta.
We recently received this photo from Al Barnard after his plane had flown about five hours. Like Zersis, Al did all of his own work, utilizing our
parts and installation components. The photo shows a quality job any builder would be proud of. The fact that Al did the job at his
location shows that our educational system of Manuals, DVDs, and e-mail and phone support, combined with our flight proven
products, facilitates any motivated builder to complete and fly a Corvair. While everyone is welcome at Corvair Colleges, they are not a requirement to access
our resources. Hats off to Al, the latest Corvair powered pilot.
Corvair College #14
Corvair College #14 will be held at Nitron Inc. at 26 Wellman Street in Lowell, MA 01851, the weekend of May 22. Our host for the event is Pramod Kotwal, known for his nitriding of
Corvair crankshafts. ZenVair 601 builder Ken Pavlou is assisting as director of the event, and will be handling the bulk of communications. His e-mail address is
As always, the event is free, but Ken has a modest donation program to cover the cost of food and drinks.
Please visit the official CC #14 Web site to register and get the latest news at http://aerovair.com/CC14.html
Also as always, anyone with commercial interests in copying
our products is not invited.
We'll have more details in the coming weeks, but early planning pays off. Ken and Pramod held a preliminary event last weekend as a tuneup, and it had very strong
attendance. The main event promises to be a very large College.
attendance. The main event promises to be a very large College.
Now At The Hangar
June 2011 At The Hangar
May 2011 At The Hangar
April 2011 At The Hangar
March 2011 At The Hangar
January 2011 At The Hangar
December 2010 At The Hangar
November 2010 At The Hangar
October 2010 At The Hangar
August 2010 At The Hangar
July 2010 At The Hangar
May 2010 At The Hangar
April 2010 At The Hangar
January 2010 At The Hangar
December 2009 At The Hangar
November 2009 At The Hangar
October 2009 At The Hangar
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August 2009 At The Hangar
July 2009 At The Hangar
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April 2009 At The Hangar
January 2009 At The Hangar
December 2008 At The Hangar
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August 2008 At The Hangar
July 2008 At The Hangar
June 2008 At The Hangar
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April 2008 At The Hangar
March 2008 At The Hangar
February 2008 At The Hangar
January 2008 At The Hangar
Christmas 2007 At The Hangar
November 2007 At The Hangar
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September 2007 At The Hangar
August 2007 At The Hangar
July 2007 At The Hangar
June 2007 At The Hangar
April 2007 At The Hangar
March 2007 At The Hangar
February 2007 At The Hangar
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
July 2006 At The Hangar
June 2006 At The Hangar
May 2006 At The Hangar
At The Hangar In April 2006
At The Hangar In March 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