Sun 'N Fun 2011-March 29 to April 3
Corvair College #20-June 3, 4, 5
Above, Roy Szarafinski behind the 3 liter (3,000cc/ 184cid) Corvair that we assembled and test ran the weekend before Sun ’N Fun, March
29 to April 3 in Lakeland, Fla. This engine
features a Roy 5th bearing, Falcon heads with Inconel valves, and all of our Gold System Parts.
The engine is a very potent power
plant, equally comfortable running on 100 LL or auto fuel. We built the engine as a joint project to display all week at Sun ’N Fun.
It is now for sale, ready for immediate shipment or pick up at Roy’s Garage in Michigan. For more information,
e-mail me at WilliamTCA@aol.com or call the shop
line at (904) 529-0006.
As I drove to Sun 'N Fun 2011 last week, I commented to Roy that this was going to be my 23rd consecutive year there, and they tended
to all blend together in my memory to form one pleasant thought. On the drive home I thought about what a standout year this will
be for a lot of reasons. People who did not make it to the show all got to watch the effects of the tornado that touched down in the
middle of the day Thursday. As devastating as it was, the show was back up and running for the last three days, the weather was great,
and a lot of people came out. Those that had been there all week pulled themselves together on Friday morning and made the best of it.
Our damage was limited to our three-day-old tent getting destroyed and Roy’s laptop going for a swim, and a lot of printed material
getting dispersed in central Florida, not much under the circumstances. News reports varied, but I saw more than 40 planes that were
destroyed or heavily damaged. By Friday afternoon, almost all of the damaged things had been removed. Many people who came the last two
days had no idea how extensive the destruction had been. The cleanup effort made the rest of the show possible, but it did make you
stop and think about the people who had lost planes. On Saturday, the management had understandably tried to make everything look
like business as usual. For the people who lost planes this must have seemed very odd to have the place go back to the way it looked
on Wednesday, everything the same with the exception of their plane now being gone. No one I spoke with took a fellow aviator's loss
lightly, as they all realized it could just as well have been them. This said, the mood the last few days was decidedly upbeat,
especially when it was confirmed that only one person had had serious injuries and no one was killed.
Mark, Roy and I set up our brand new tent in the rain on Monday night. To me, this was very cold, being soaked to the bone in
60 degree weather. To Mr. Wisconsin (Mark) and Mr. Michigan (Roy), this was pleasant weather, and each of them commented that any
precipitation that you couldn't shovel doesn't make real men cold.
It rained on and off the first two days, but this proved to be fortunate, as we had a lot of stuff safely in the trailer behind
the tent, and we had very strong waterproof bags at the ready for the display engine and the bottom end on a stand.
The day before the storm, the management had sent out a number of dire warnings that did not turn into anything. In retrospect,
they really needed a 1MC "Now Hear This!" type of loud speaker system. The messages were sent out the previous day by people driving
around in golf carts handing out printed info. The time interval between the sky looking very bad and our tent breaking up was about
120-180 seconds. There were tens of thousands of people who know something about weather at the show, almost all with smart phones,
and it still caught most people without warring .Roy and I had just enough time to drop our big banner sign while Mark bagged the
engines. As the first blast hit, a guy actually walked past our booth, head down, staring at his iPhone, tapping a text message,
a modern icon of situational awareness.
It took 60 seconds to drop our tent at the FlyCorvair.com Booth. There was a very large commercial tent housing the Aero Graphics people next to us. It was a
full on commercial tent with 3-foot steel anchors. It was torn loose and flipped over on ours, crushing everything inside our tent
to the table top level. Although we were thrown to the ground, fortunately none of us were clobbered by a pole. Under the wreckage
it was pitch black with two tents on top of us. The rain and wind were so loud you had to yell in the ear of the man next to you.
The water got to be 6 inches deep in a minute or two,
and crawling under the tables gave the feeling of being in the belly of a sinking ship. We found a way out the back and emerged by
the side door of the trailer. We weathered the next 10 minutes in comparative security. The wind and rain let up and we came out
and were stunned at the carnage. None of the pictures online really give the full impression of the level of damage. A cup of
coffee I had before the storm was still sitting upright on a table; the booth next
to us literally had every single thing in it broken.
People reacted very differently. An embroidered polo shirt guy selling folding chairs and sunglasses behind us had no damage
except for a 2-inch scratch in his van, caused by a tent pole. He wanted to know who was going to pay for it. On the other side,
the Aero Graphics guy who visually is a tee shirt clad good old boy from Ocala, Florida, had his entire livelihood destroyed. After
making sure everyone was OK in our area, he found a cold beer in a buried cooler and sipped it slowly while he walked around and
looked at the damage.
When you saw it in person, it is very hard to believe no one was killed.
Above, two of the most technical writers in aviation journalism. In the white hat, Tim Kern, the black hat, Pat Panzera.
Since the first of the year, articles that both of these men have written have highlighted our work and brought many new builders
to the Corvair movement. Most aviation writers are good people, and many of them know flying fairly well. However, far fewer of
them understand the nuts and bolts of how aircraft and engines really work. These two both know engines and systems very well.
This fact, combined with their consistent attendance at air shows coast-to-coast for decades, made their articles on the Corvair
movement real standouts.
Frank Metcalfe is one of the big Piet builders from Carrollton, Georgia. I took this photo on one of the first days of the show.
This plane and her sister ships exhibit extraordinarily high craftsmanship. As many fans know, this aircraft was extensively
damaged by the tornado on Thursday. While national news outlets and YouTube have photos and film of the aftermath, I decline to
look at it. Instead I much prefer to spend a few minutes studying Frank's craftsmanship in its pristine condition. Although the
plane needs most of its components rebuilt, I have very high hopes of seeing it flying again.
Bruce Laird is also one of the big Piet builders from Carrollton. If you look closely you can see Frank's airplane in the
background. Like Frank's, Bruce's aircraft was extensively damaged. If they were factory built aircraft, they would be considered
totaled. But these aircraft are different. They represent years of handwork and care. They will not be written off as the majority
of damaged aircraft at Lakeland will be. The same hands that created these aircraft will go back to work, and make them right again.
Most people with general aviation aircraft spoke of whether or not their insurance would buy them a similar aircraft. The fate of a
damaged homebuilt does not lie with an insurance adjuster. It belongs to the hands of the person who created it, the person who
possesses the capability of re-creating it personally.
Above is Gardiner Mason’s Pietenpol. The last time I’d seen this aircraft prior to Sun ’N Fun was at
Corvair College #19 in
Barnwell, S.C. After the tornado, the three Pietenpols ended up in a pile with Gardiner's aircraft on the bottom. While there was
initially some hope that it would be repairable, it is very likely a complete loss. Gardiner had worked very hard to get the
aircraft up and running well. Debugging his aircraft was the subject of an 18 page set of notes on cooling systems that we wrote
last year. After working with us, the plane flew beautifully. When it arrived at Sun ’N Fun it had about 70 hours on it.
I spent some time with Gardiner at the show, and he was stoic about it. Everyone wanted to say they were sorry when they
spoke with him and buy him a beer. It made me think about A.E.Houseman saying, "Ale does more that Milton can to justify
God's ways with man."
Gardiner is a Marine aviator, an AD-1 attack pilot, a Delta Airlines guy, a GA pilot, and a homebuilder. He has done a lot in
50 years of flying. I am certain that he would not want anyone to feel sorry for him, and I am pretty sure that he would tell you
that the only people we need to be sorry for are the ones who don't go out and write their own story in building and flying.
Above is what our tent looked like 10 minutes after the tornado passed. This is actually our neighbor’s tent turned upside down
on top of ours. Mark is checking the waterproof bag that was over Scott Blankenship’s 3 liter case assembly we had on display. This
is going to be installed in Scott’s completed Just Highlander. Although it was dry, Roy carefully disassembled it, re-cleaned it,
and reassembled it at our hangar after the show. Many people would have left it alone, and brushed it off while saying “It will be
alright.” This attitude has no place in aviation, and is completely unacceptable when working on things that will fly in other
people’s planes. We are in the business of teaching people about Corvair engines, but our work goes far beyond this, to effectively
demonstrating that no professional ever assumes anything to be OK; he checks it, even if it requires a number of hours in the shop
to do so. Mark and Roy dropped the case off on their ride home. Look for this engine to be completed and run at Corvair College #20.
Things were much sunnier on Friday at Sun ’N Fun. This gentleman is well known on the Zenith discussion groups. He is
Vice Admiral Chumphol Sirinavin from Thailand. It was a personal pleasure to meet him, as I had a very happy childhood
growing up in Thailand. He is an experienced builder and pilot and impressively fluent in English even on the most technical
subjects, and the finest details. Thailand is widely known throughout Asia as the home of extremely friendly and relaxed people.
It stands in complete contrast to the ritualized formality of northern Asian cultures like China, Korea and Japan.
Corvair/601 builder and pilot Zersis Mehta and family stop by our booth, above. We have known Zersis and his lovely wife for
the past few years. We met them as boyfriend and girlfriend in the Zenith booth at Sun ’N Fun 2007. On that day I had about 20
cups of coffee and really put the pressure on Zersis to make his move in aviation, order a kit and get started. The final part
of my argument was that women are attracted to decisive men. Although Sebastien Heintz laughed and thought this was all over the
top, time has vindicated me. Zersis has since completed his aircraft, built his Corvair, gotten engaged, flown the plane, gotten
married, done the wing upgrade, and become a father. Either I'm the world's greatest motivational speaker, or more likely I picked
the right guy to give the speech to.
Keep in mind that Zersis had never built a plane before and has a full-time engineering career. Occasionally a guy will pop
up on the Internet and try to explain his slow progress on his project by making a claim that building a plane is an impossibly
large set of tasks. Often these people spend countless hours on the Net. Meanwhile, we have an armada of quiet builders like
Zersis, who in spite of full lives, still keep a slow and steady pace to the finish line. For a look at a previous Mehta family
photo and story, click on this link to Sun 'N Fun 2010 and scroll down.
On the grounds of Sun ’N Fun, the State of Florida has built a first class aviation high school. This is a very impressive
three-story facility that looks more like a university than a public school. This was my 16th year of giving forums on the Corvair
at Sun ’N Fun. The building was filled with other forum presenters on every subject in aviation. We had previously given these
forums in tents outside, where the climate or noise was a continuous interruption. That is all a distant memory now. From left to
right, Spencer Gould, Embry Riddle graduate, former Hangar Gang member, currently employed by Pratt Whitney. He did the CAD
drawing work on many of our Gold Parts and my Fifth Bearing design. Next is Corvair/KR builder Gary Coppen, myself, and one of
the many builders who attended my forums. This photo was taken in the hallway of the new building.
Roy and I continued to meet Corvair engine builders on Friday and Saturday. We did this without the benefit of the tent. It
was very sunny and frying hot. In spite of the storm damage, and difficulty finding parking, a lot of people showed up for
these two days. We covered a lot of technical ground with builders and spoke continuously. It was only at the end of the day
we noticed how sunburned we got without the tent. In the above photo we are speaking to a builder from the Miami area. The man
had extensive background in serious road racing. I always take it as a compliment when a person with serious mechanical
credentials picks out the Corvair as their aircraft engine of choice. These people are never swayed by marketing nor
testimonials, or even a positive word from a friend who already knows us. They make their choice based on our ability
to provide them with solid data on every question that they ask. Most of the imported engines at airshows are marketed by
people who are hardly qualified to change the sparkplugs in their product. This should come as little surprise; the last
person you bought a car from probably couldn't tune one up to save his life. But the Corvair All Stars are different: Here we
are glad to teach you anything you need or want to know about the engine. If you got into experimental aircraft because you
wanted to learn things and be the master of your aircraft and not just its owner, then you're a good candidate to be a Corvair builder.
The Blue Angels performed three days of the show. In this photo the two F-18s look like they're touching, but it's an optical
illusion. They're actually about 2 feet apart. The first time I saw them perform I was about 8 years old and they were flying
F-4 Phantoms. It still sticks in my mind. Everything else that I thought was fascinating at the time has now become a part of
daily life that we all take for granted. But the Blue Angels remain constant: They still have the same power to captivate your
eye. (Photo by Corvair/Buttercup builder Dan Kelley.)
Above, an F-22 performs at the Sun ’N Fun 2011 air show. The tattered ends of the flag were caused by the storm on Thursday.
Twice during the air show this plane performed a very slow and controlled flat spin. It’s a maneuver I have never seen performed
in a fighter. (Photo by Corvair/Buttercup builder Dan Kelley.)
We saw this aircraft fly overhead on arrival, but no one could identify it in the air. Very sharp eyes will notice that it is
a highly modified T-6 Texan. The original 600 horse radial appears to have been replaced with a complete engine and nacelle from
a DC-4. It is not often you see a custom aircraft built in this weight category.
Corvair/601 builder and Corvair College #14 veteran Louis Leung, on the left, hangs out with two members of Mike Mould’s
crew from England at the second annual “Impromptu Corvair Barbecue” Friday, April 1st, at Sun ’N Fun. Roy put the whole event together by picking a
time and place, telling people to show up, and then handling everything else himself. He likes to run it fast and loose: No rules,
no format, no problem. The event drew about 30 people, most of whom had never met each other before. It was a really diverse mix
of people that sparked a lot of different conversations which lasted late into the night. (Photo by Corvair/Buttercup builder Dan Kelley.)
Another photo from the Corvair barbecue, in which Brother Roy breaks out a guitar and teams up with North Florida aviation
guru Wayne White on banjo. Having lived in the south the past 25 years, the banjo is a familiar sound in an outdoor setting.
At a gathering that drew people from far away, I pondered for a moment what connotations the sounds evoke from distant travelers.
Perhaps this is the same thought that Wayne had when he broke into a spirited version of “Dueling Banjos,” the soundtrack song
to the 1970s film Deliverance.
Last week was a lot of work, but Sun ’N Fun 2011 is history now. Our update is posted, and everyone can get a glimpse of
what happened there. But no one can go be there again. The future, and everything we will or won’t do with it, all lie in front
of us. I treasure memories and good times, but I am always much more focused on what is coming next, the story that is yet to be
written or lived. Sun ’N Fun starts the year in experimental aviation. If you missed it, there is still much to do this year.
College #20 is the next main event, and I highly encourage everyone to show up for it.
Corvair College #20
Corvair College #20 is coming up at Hillsdale Municipal Airport (KJYM) in Michigan
June 3rd, 4th and 5th. The host of this event will be Roy Szarafinski. Hillsdale's airport is only two miles from Roy’s
Garage in Osseo.
This is going to be a very large and productive Corvair College. First, we expect to have a full capacity crowd of 100 builders.
This may sound like a lot, but we had previously held several
85- to 90-builder Colleges, and this College promises to have a very high degree of returning veterans who will function as
volunteers. We are also expecting about 10 Corvair powered aircraft to fly in. This includes KRs, Pietenpols,
Zeniths and the Corvair Cruiser. The main technical load
will be covered by the Corvair All Stars, Roy Szarafinski, Mark Petniunas, Dan Weseman and myself.
I have already met the airport manager at Sun ’N Fun. He and the local EAA Chapter have pledged a great deal of
basic support for the event. I will be driving up from Florida to bring our run stand to back up Roy’s. Two stands
means that we will very likely be able to run 16 engines during the event.
People who sign up for the event will be given several updates as time grows closer, allowing them to plan the details
of their visit and line up the necessary equipment to get the most out of attending. As always, the basic College itself is
free. None of the registration fee goes to the Corvair All Stars; it is all used to pay for food, beverages, equipment rental,
etc. At $79 a person,
the cost is a small fraction of typical aviation tech seminars. Our events are completely unlike
the typical seminar held at the Holiday Inn banquet room where half your time is spent watching PowerPoint
presentations. Here you will work on your own engine, learn what you need to know, get direct exposure to experts,
learn how engines are broken in and operated. This will all be done in an immersion environment where we will work from
sunrise till late in the night. It will all be done in the company of fellow builders and aviators. This is also a
social event, and a good chance for you to get to know other members of the Corvair movement. Contacts made here can
develop into friendships that we all expect to make in aviation.
I am the only person who's been to every College. With this perspective, I have learned to tell in advance what the
character of each College will likely be. The host, the setting, the pilots planning on coming, and the availability
of on-site camping and a late-night social scene all build into the makeup and character of the College. Some have been
small, tightknit groups of friends in a moderate paced setting. Others have been larger, faster-paced events with more
activity, more personalities, and a broader variety of experiences available. College #20 is shaping up to be more
like the latter. If I were to look through our previous colleges for an example of what I expect #20 to be like, I would
pick Corvair College #17 that was held at Arnold Holmes' hangar near Orlando, Florida, in 2010. You can review photos and
descriptions from it to get a better idea of what the event will look like at the Corvair College #17 link.
As good as #17 was, #20 promises to have many more flying planes, more people, and the close proximity of Roy’s
fully equipped shop. We may very well be able to break the attendance record and the record for the number of
airplanes flown in. Either way, the event will be an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in Corvairs to
immerse themselves in the Corvair movement.
This is the link to the online registration:
Corvair/601 XL builder Ken Pavlou, aka “The Central Scrutinizer,”
has again done a masterful job of setting up an online registration remotely from his home in cyberspace.
The registration page contains a small questionnaire which will allow us to tailor the event to builders’ expectations.
The link also has the ability to accept secure online payments to complete registration. Pilots flying in
Corvair powered aircraft are exempt from
registration fees; they are our guests, and we are glad to cover their share of the expenses.
The college is a private event where builders are required to register in advance. Everyone is welcome, with three
small and long understood exceptions: We do not welcome people who would attend in hopes of learning just enough to
use the information for commercial purposes. Over the years, there have been several short-lived, now broke, LLcs
started by people who posed as “builders” at one of our early Colleges. If this is anyone’s motivation to attend
they should stay home. Second, anyone whose personality is seriously disruptive is not welcome. When we first
announced this College, a very argumentative Internet personality who has never built, run nor flown a Corvair,
expressed an interest in attending. I politely and privately told him he was not welcome. He promptly went out to
numerous different discussion groups on the Internet and complained very vocally. This type of behavior is exactly
the kind of personality that does not fit in the friendly, productive environment of the college. People like that
are tolerated on the Net, but not at my events. Third, people who do not take basic safety instructions are not welcome.
At a College several years ago, I directly told a builder specifically not to do something I deemed dangerous,
and he promptly went ahead and tried it 20 minutes later. I have specifically forbidden him from ever attending
another event that I am organizing. The above three examples should serve to show all the regular builders planning
on attending that our events don’t look like regular seminars, but they are actually very professional in execution.
I will not tolerate unproductive interruptions, and I take the risk management of the event very seriously.
In the photos of #17, you'll notice that everybody is having fun. While this is true,
I am still being vigilant for the good times, productivity and safety of the builders who have chosen to
come for the right reasons. This event belongs to those people, and I respect your time and prep work.
Ask any builder who has attended a previous College and he will tell you that the Colleges are well worth
prepping for and attending. There is no single type of builder that “fits” in the College; we have a broader
range of experience and personalities at the Colleges than you ever find in a typical seminar. The only thing
builders all have in common is that they are there to learn, have a good time and they can abide by the guidelines
that have worked to make the events what they have always been. Sign up today, we will see you there.
Congratulations to Jim and Rhonda Weseman on their Fisher Celebrity biplane being completed. They stopped by for a
few minutes the other night and Jim told me the plane only weighs 744 pounds. This is very light for a steel tube
Celebrity with four ailerons. Its 3100 engine turns a very large wooden prop 2800 static. Of course the plane has a
Weseman 5th bearing. This aircraft is going to be a very strong performer. The DAR sign off went without a hitch,
and the plane is cleared to fly. Above, the lovely Rhonda Weseman sits in the front cockpit, while Jim converses with son Dan.
Doug Stevenson's 750
Above is Doug Stevenson's CH-750. This is the first flying Corvair powered 750. Doug came to Corvair College
#18 where we assembled and test ran his Roy bearing-3 liter Corvair. Doug wrote: "The CH 750 leaped off the ground
and flew like a bird. The Corvair purred like a kitten and climbed up over 3000 ft in less than 3 minutes. Awesome!
Flight lasted an hour and everything worked perfectly ... much thanks to your fine craftsmanship."
This type of flawless
first flight performance is the payoff from our years of work with developing the Corvair and its installations.
Automotive conversions were once dominated by liquid cooled engines with belt reductions that nearly always gave
the pilots tremendous problems throughout the flight test period. You never read reports of an hour-long flawless
first flight. Using Lycoming and Continental as my model, we developed the Corvair into a simple, reliable
powerplant that is trustworthy while remaining affordable.
Tom Siminski's 750
Above, the business end of Thomas Siminski’s Zenith CH 750. This is one of many Corvair powered 750s nearing completion.
In California, Doug Stevenson’s 3 liter 750 is currently taxi testing. Jeff Cochran’s 2,850cc 750 is also nearing completion.
By Oshkosh we expect to see several Corvair powered 750s airborne.
601XL Projects For Sale
Two friends of ours are selling two separate Zenith 601 XL projects. Both of these gentlemen are friends of ours, and well
known in the Corvair movement. The following is a brief description of each project:
Carroll Jernigan’s 601XL is a nearly complete project. It has not yet been registered. Carroll completed and test ran the
engine at Corvair College #17. It is a 2700cc power plant with a Dan 5th bearing. Carroll is a well-known
craftsman and his engine is a reflection of this. All of the installation components for the engine were built
by us and come with the project. For more details on the project contact Carroll through his firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address.
Jay Bannister’s 601 XL features a 2700cc Corvair that was built in my shop. The aircraft has been completed,
registered and flown. The airframe suffered a significant amount of damage when a test pilot buckled the nose gear
on a landing. The aircraft can be seen in flight in the second photo down at the October 2008 FlyCorvair.com
The Zenith wing upgrade has not yet been done to the airframe. It can be accomplished at the same time that the
airframe repairs are made. I have not seen the aircraft in person, but people who have described its original build as
outstanding. Jay can be contacted through his email@example.com e-mail address.
Both Carroll and Jay have reached a point where continued flying is not in the cards for them. This is a tough
point for anyone who really loves aviation to reach. As I said, we consider both these men friends, and I inherently have a
lot of respect for any man of my father's generation. I expect anyone contacting these gentlemen to be civil and respectful.
The future owners of these projects will find me to be a very supportive ally in their completion to flight status. Picking up
and completing either of these projects at a fair market value makes anyone a good guy my book. It goes without saying that
shameless bargain hunters and lowball artists should not waste the time of these men. Most aviation companies are indifferent
about the concerns of their builders who will no longer be flying, but I give a damn. Scam artists are warned that I have a
long memory for people who pull stunts on senior aviators, especially our friends in the Corvair movement.
"Real freedom is the sustained act of being an individual." WW - 2009
Now At The Hangar
June 2011 At The Hangar
May 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
September 2009 At The Hangar
August 2009 At The Hangar
July 2009 At The Hangar
June 2009 At The Hangar
May 2009 At The Hangar
April 2009 At The Hangar
March 2009 At The Hangar
January 2009 At The Hangar
December 2008 At The Hangar
October 2008 At The Hangar
September 2008 At The Hangar
August 2008 At The Hangar
July 2008 At The Hangar
June 2008 At The Hangar
May 2008 At The Hangar
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
October 2007 At The Hangar
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