First, their unrealistically cheery message comes because they're salesmen, pushing an idea or
a product. Above all, I am a homebuilder, a researcher and a teacher. On the surface,
I sell Corvair Conversion Products. But the real product I'm working on
is Educating and Assisting as many people as possible, so they can each
have their own day like Gary just experienced.
The Corvair engine
is not the final product. It is the inexpensive hardware that we use in pursuit of success.
It allows us to work with the maximum amount of people. It will cerntainly remain the best
engine for our task for many, many years to come. If I were a salesman, and the product were the engine,
this Web site would merrily tell fairytales that each and every
Manual purchased would easily result in your ticket to flying,
But I'm not a salesman, I'm a homebuilder and educator. The product is your knowledge and
capability, and I'm here to tell you the truth about persistence, the central theme of success in
Beyond being salesmen, it's not widely understood among homebuilders but is nonetheless absolutely
true that the vast majority of people in embroidered polo shirts representing products at
Sun 'N Fun and Oshkosh have never built a homebuilt. A good number of them have never built a single
piece of an airplane that's ever gone flying even once. Keep this thought in mind as you look at
anyone's commercial Web site. If any of the work that they did had gone flying, they'd certainly proudly
display it; there's no rational reason why any salesman or rep would leave out his own successful work,
if it existed.
While I do not like salesmen who pose as successful homebuilders, there's a larger point here. People
without the experience of completing a homebuilt are in a poor position to act as your guide or mentor.
While you can certainly pick up a tip or two from anyone who's completed a certain step, the most useful
guidance you'll get on your journey is from someone who's seen it through all the way to the end.
If you were planning a trip to Mount Everest, there'd be no harm in accepting advice on socks from
someone who's climbed a number of small peaks. But, there's a big difference between this and
a salesman potraying himself as Sir Edmund Hilary, your personal guide.
An RV-4/6 and a VariEZ/LongEz are not easy airplanes to build by any standard. In an era when the EAA
membership was half its current size, and building from plans or material kits was the rule, these
airframes showed up at Oshkosh by the hundreds only a few years after introduction. Primary reason?
The spokesmen, guides, commentators and trendsetters were all successful builders who'd built close
to the plans in reasonable time with good craftsmanship.
In the age of the Internet, the average builder's path will be set with thousands of opinions and
distractions. Some of these may even come from people who are salesmen posing as builders. The important
point is that you are an individual builder. You can choose your counsel carefully, and that path will
certainly lead to the same success that every other person who's made it to the top of the mountain knows.
There is a misconception that builders who finish projects have special qualities or advantages unavailable
to others. A KR builder in the boat stage may look at The Flying KR/Corvair community,
and credit the builders' successes to qualities that are secondary. While it's true that Mark Langford is
an outstanding engineer and that Steve Makish has decades of experience in airplane
building, their airplanes
are not complete for these reasons. Even the fact that they live nearby us and have both attended
Colleges takes a backseat to the primary fact that they chose a
fairly proven route, and then applied their persistence relentlessly until their projects were flying.
As further proof of my theory, builders should carefully consider the accomplishments of flying
KR/Corvair pilot Mark Jones of Wisconsin. Mark has about 100 hours on his Corvair powered KR-2S.
This is his first homebuilt, he doesn't come from a big flying family, and he doesn't work as an
aerospace engineer. He's got plenty of kids, a house, a career, and a full life. Yet his airplane is done
because he chose a fairly simple path and applied his persistence. Almost anyone reading this
can buy a Conversion Manual, just as Mark Jones did in 1999.
If you live far away from us, it doesn't matter. Mark Jones has never been to our hangar, nor to a
Corvair College (we made one housecall, when his airplane was mostly done). He
watched all our videos, did the recommended reading, and for guidance
predominantly followed the work of people who had built and flown. His reward? A good looking, reliable,
safe flying airplane. ... Persistence pays.
The day you finish your first airplane and it goes flying will be a day you remember your whole life.
At the end of the day, when you're putting it away, you'll stare at it for at least 10 more minutes before
you turn out the lights and close the hangar door. At that moment, you'll be able to look back with perfect
20/20 hindsight and crystal vision at your whole building experience. You will certainly see that any time
spent on Internet arguments was wasted. Likewise, the fuel injection system you originally thought you needed
was a wasted detour. The hours planning paint schemes and panels advanced nothing.
Most of the unique modifications turned out to be dead ends, suggested by people
who had never been to the finish line.
Conversely, the day you decided the airplane did not need to be IFR was a massive advancement.
The hour you spent at Oshkosh asking specific questions of a builder of a flying example of your plane
was priceless. And what counted more than anything else was your ability to return to the workshop and
efficiently finish the innumerable simple jobs that make up an airplane. In the final perspective, the only
thing that counted was you. Unsuccessful builders who don't yet realize this frequently blame external
forces or other people. While certainly there are factors that play a positive and negative role, in the
end, it's you and your dogged perisistence.
If other people actually controlled your success, reaching the finish line would not be a milestone.
What makes it such a memorable event in your life is the realization at the end of the journey that
while everything else in our lives is a team effort, the work of a group, or an exercise in
compromise and role playing, airplane building will always remain the triumph of the individual.
Congratulations to our latest Corvair Flyer, Gary Bell.
Corvair Crew Makes It Through Mexico
Without Incident May 20-21, 2006
New Photos Monday Night May 22
As we write this, we are headed south in the dark on I-57 in Illinois. If the weather holds, and we have enough coffee, we'll be
home by dinnertime tomorrow. We spent a full day today finishing up the engine installation on
Cleone Markwell's 601HD. We made excellent progress, and had a good time. We performed
a weight and balance on his plane using the local FBO's $5,000 set of scales. This showed that our standard
length Motor Mount works great on HD models also. It was a full day on the end
of a full week. Gives you a lot to think about in the dark hours of driving ahead.
Above, Cleone and I test the starting system
wiring and function. Cleone's plane is an early kit built HD. He later added a forward hinged canopy of
his own design. The plane was originally Rotax 912 powered for 280 hours. It accumulated sophisticated
instrumentation and avionics along the way. During its Corvair conversion, the instrumentation and panel
have been somewhat simplified. The plane has seen a lot of wiring changes at the same time. After helping
Cleone with this process, I can honestly say that there is far more work to modifying an existing airframe
powered by something else to now work with a Corvair rather than simply installing and wiring a new
We briefly ran the engine to check the installation for correct operation and any possible leaks, and found
no leaks. The run also tested the instrumentation, which checked out fine. The plane is equipped with an Ellison EFS-3A. The engine
was fully broken in at our hangar in Florida before we left. Despite what you see here, no one should run
engines without baffle boxes or full cowls. We only made a few low rpm runs, perhaps 60 seconds each. The most
critical time for the engine is the first 20 minutes of its life. This engine already has several hours on it.
Cleone's oil filter is the same one with remote mount that we use on standard 601 installations.
But his is higher on his firewall to clear previously existing cabin heat inlets. His aircraft also has
a completely unique carb heat/air filter arrangement to adapt the Corvair to his particular plane without
modifying too much of the airframe.
Above, I study the instruments while Cleone stands by with fire extinguisher. The
exhaust system on this plane is the ceramic coated mild steel model that flew on our
airplane for its first year. The fuel pump installation on Cleone's plane is the mirror image of a
standard 601 installation. Although his plane is an HD, it only uses wing tanks, thus it must have fuel
pumps, like an XL. What cannot be seen in the photo is that the firewall in this
plane is raked 10 degrees instead of the correct measurement of 13 degrees. All models of 601s have this
same 13 degree slope. Cleone's is not the first airplane we've encountered where the builder made this
error. It's an understandable mistake, because the forward floor of the plane slopes up at 3 degrees and
some people miss this.
Wisconsin 601HD/Corvair builder Dick Schmidt's plane had the same issue. Dick had previously
done us an enormous favor, so I tooled up and made him a one-off motor mount for his airplane. This took several
times longer than fabricating a regular Mount, but Dick is a real good guy and was
patient about letting us come up with the specialty piece. We did it for Dick, but won't be making any more
of these. On Cleone's airplane, we opted to shim the Mount and engine bushings to give the plane the correct
thrust angle. Since most of the parts for his Corvair installation required modification or hand fabrication,
it wasn't worth building a custom mount. Dick's plane can use all of our standard
pieces, like the exhaust system, Cowl and airbox, whereas these are all custom on
Cleone's bird. The big lesson from this is that your motor mount is the crucial piece that makes the rest of
the Corvair installation work.
On this trip, we met a very nice gentleman who told us that he "helped" two 601 builders by building
their Corvair motor mounts for them. The datum to firewall distance he used was the correct one for a KR,
and is 4 inches too short for a 601. Nothing we make for a 601
will fit a mount this short. I doubt you could build a custom intake that would get around the nosegear,
and it's pointless to ponder because the plane would of course be dangerously tailheavy. He's not an evil
guy, and he honestly felt he was helping his friends, which is why I didn't give him a hard time and I'm not
using his name here. Just remember, your own 601 project doesn't need help like this.
Why did we stop by Cleone's to give him a hand, work through the custom installation issues, and
find solutions to make his plane work? Because Cleone Markwell is an absolute first class gentleman, the
kind of person I hoped we would deal with from our first day in business on. Builders have been pretty good to
us, and on the rare occasion when one of them hasn't, it's easy to recall time spent with Cleone and
realize that we're way ahead of the game. Cleone and his lovely wife Eleanor have treated us like family.
Their hospitality stands in complete contrast to the lack of civility we all read on the Net.
We're looking forward to seeing Cleone's plane flying shortly.
Learning is Fun at Corvair Day May 20 at the Zenith Factory
Saturday, May 20, 2006, marked the first Corvair Day Open House at the Zenith Factory in
Mexico, Missouri. Despite extremely short notice, the event drew more than 50 serious builders. They came
from places far and wide, including Colorado Springs, Colo., San Diego, Calif., and Seattle, Wash.
The Zenith crew opened their hangar early, and put on a giant vat of coffee. The builders streamed in
early in the morning, and by 9:45 a.m., I started the day with a general briefing and a short question
and answer session.
The theme of the talk was people and Corvairs. Many times, newcomers will ask "What makes the Corvair
any different? And why do we frequently refer to Corvair building as a movement?" The answer is easy to
understand even if you attend a small event like a Night School or even
a mid-size event, like this Corvair Day. Corvair engines themselves are made out of steel and aluminum,
just like any other airplane engine. However, most other engines are simply a manufactured product sent out to
consumers who never meet each other, and whose engine acquisition experience is largely limited to unpacking
the box and installing it at home. Conversely, Corvair building is correctly called a movement because
builders are engaged as people getting to know each other as fellow builders and flyers.
This unique aspect of the world of Corvairs was intentionally integrated into the
program by me from Day One. Years ago, while I was still a student at Embry Riddle, I made a point to go
to Sun 'N Fun and Oshkosh every year. Although I was initially dazzled by the size and variety of everything
going on, I quickly came to see that I often did not know a single other person in crowds of 200,000-500,000
other aviators who were theoretically my peers. This highlighted to me the missing element of
the people side of my aviation world at the time.
Although I knew many good guys in my local EAA Chapter, not all of them were homebuilders, and few had a
response to match my newcomer's enthusiasm and long range ideas. In a small geographic group, it was unfair
to expect a lot of people to feel the same way I did. But I had a gut reaction that there were an awful lot
of people in the country who, given the right focal point, felt the same way I did and would look forward to
participating in events that would have looked like the EAA events at Rockford in the pre-Oshkosh era.
Today, looking back on 10 Corvair Colleges, dozens of
airshows, and a decade of experiences that combined the best of people and their craftsmenship applied
to Corvair engines, it's easy to see my hunch was right. From this perspective, the Mexico Event fits
right into The Big Picture.
The builders were a mixture of old and new friends. Pietenpol builder Dan Wilson of Minnesota on the far right in back, above, and
601XL builder Harlan Nelson of Minnesota, left of Dan in the back, are both veterans of Corvair College #9.
Dan also attended our Midwest Night School in Iowa. New friends Paul Beaulieu and
John Fravel are directly to my right, along with two other new friends. In the foreground on the right is
Vernon Lehman, to whom we delivered a pair of Dragonfly wings which he'll be mating to a Q-200. His first project
was a Cozy, so he's up for the task.
In the center is Dr. Steve Mineart's engine, which we're taking back to Florida
to upgrade with a nitrided crank. If you follow our travels, you'll
remember we delivered Dr. Mineart's engine during Our Midwest Night School Tour.
He wisely took my counsel and chose to have us upgrade his engine. We'll complete this and deliver his
engine before Oshkosh. Before the January Crank Update, about 55 engines had been
built and test run at our Edgewater hangar. The majority of these involved us assisting customers with the
assembly of components they had gathered and the test run of their engines. This labor was free at
Corvair Colleges, or available at very modest cost outside the Colleges. All of these builders left not
only with a running engine, but with a sound understanding of how it was assembled and how to work on it.
When our testing revealed that nitriding cranks was necessary, I felt comfortable with almost all of these
builders taking care of the replacement at home. After all, the engine's intended to be built at home, and
these people had received direct training from us, supported by text in the Conversion
Manual, and visual aids in the Assembly Videos. A good example of a builder
from this group is 601 builder Craig Payne of Utah. After talking on the phone, Craig
told me he felt comfortable changing the crank at home, then followed the
instructions on our FlyCorvair.com Web site and sent his crank off to Nitron himself.
On the other side of the coin, there were about a dozen people who'd purchased a
Complete Engine built by Kevin and I. These engines sold for in excess of $6,000, and went to builders
who generally had not received any direct training from us. These people
had not been counting on working on the inside of their engines, and certainly had spent a significant
sum with us. We contacted them all individually, either offering a nitrided crank or replacing the
crank for them for a very modest charge. They all agreed we'd made them a more than fair offer to keep
their projects moving forward without undue cost or stress. As a rule, these guys had a lot of experience
in general aviation and understood that no other engine manufacturer, certified or experimental, went to
these lengths to make available an important update that was unknown at the time of the sale.
Builders like Vance Wiley opted to accept a nitrided crank from us at
Sun 'N Fun 2006, and the return of Dr. Mineart's engine to him will close the chapter on
nitriding cranks on engines we've built and sold for full price.
While the vast majority of builders respected and understood our position on crankshafts and assistance
we were willing and able to give, more than one builder told me they felt somehow neglected or not
prioritized. Keep in mind that we have literally more than 1,000 active builders. We went out of our way
to find solutions that were possible for everyone, spent an enormous amount of time offering technical
assistance, and we're glad to help builders - from people who purchased a Manual
from us simply looking for information, to the opposite end of the spectrum. The guiding principal was what
is fair and equitable. It's no secret that a lot of priority went to people currently flying aircraft who
were willing to share costs with us and be part of setting the precedent and ethic that nitriding was easy,
reasonably inexpensive and an integral part of a good engine.
To the few who feel slighted, let me offer my
apologies and merely ask everyone to consider what the limits of generosity and responsibility are, from
myself, a person who has championed the least expensive motor on the market and consistently shared our time
and knowledge freely at events like the Colleges. If my product had financially matched
the expensive imports, and we'd never given away any time, or shared any of the fun events for free, then we
certainly would have had a giant war chest of money to buy everyone a new crank (keep in mind expensive
engine companies, although they have the resources, don't do this either). With the imports, they would not
work with anyone who did not have the $15 grand up front to buy their product. They're
not bad people, but that's reality. Conversely, we are willing to work with anyone with a budget big enough
to buy a $59 Conversion Manual.
If there are complaints, it's fair to ask if perhaps they only purchased a
Conversion Manual or perhaps additionally a core motor from us years ago. It saddens
me that we may lose one or two customers over expectations about what we can do for everyone, but looking
at the big picture, it's simply not reality.
Mark Langford, above in the yellow MY EX WANTED ME TO QUIT FLYING shirt, with
a crowd admiring his Corvair installation. Mark told Grace he was sorry he missed the first
half of my speech, but since he's flying now, he's really more interested in the flyng, travel and people aspect of the
movement rather than the technical side. Grace told him he didn't really miss it because that's what
the first half of my speech was about.
Corvair/KR builder/pilot Mark Langford, above right, departed first thing in the morning from the Huntsville, Ala., area, to fly the 425
miles to Mexico. He made a brief stop in southern Illinois to pick up O-200 powered KR-2 pilot Larry Flesner of Carterville, Ill., as
a wingman. Together they flew into Mexico. Mark reported the time en route was 2 hours 20 minutes from Alabama.
Larry, at left above with his KR, is the host of the KR Gathering which will be in Mount Vernon, Ill., again this Fall. In acknowledgement
of the popularity of the Corvair/KR combination, Larry graciously invited us to speak at the event. We'd
never seen Larry's KR in person, only read his Web site. He has a very interesting and unique bird himself.
At left above, the lovely Grace Ellen presents
Mark Langford with one of our ever popular MY EX WANTED ME TO QUIT FLYING T-shirts.
Fortuitously, Mark's gracious wife Jeanie has a very good sense of humor about this, because Mark can't seem
to get enough of these shirts.
From right above, Nick and Sebastien Heintz, and their shop tech Caleb are very happy to see another
701 leave the Zenith factory. We're bringing this one back to Merrill, a.k.a. Skymanta. However, we're
considering leaving it at an undisclosed location in Georgia until Merrill gets one or three more new
DVDs done to our liking. All we need to begin working on the installation package is the firewall. Hope you're reading this Skymanata.
Check back for the latest from Casey, Ill.
Corvair Crew Action Update May 9, 2006
May 20: Corvair Day at the Zenith Factory in
By special arrangement with Sebastien and Nick Heintz, we are having an Open House at the Zenith
Factory in Mexico, Mo., on Saturday, May 20. Make your plans now, because this is just over a week away.
The initial purpose of my visit to the factory was to pick up a 701 kit to be built in our
shop. Merrill Isaacson, our videotape specialist and newest member of the Hangar
Gang has selected the 701 for his already complete Corvair engine.
After significant discussion, we decided that the purchase of an entire 701 kit, development of a complete
Corvair installation and its flight testing was in order. I have good reason to believe that it's a
viable combination within certain parameters. Rather than speculate on what these parameters are,
it's just simpler to go ahead and build a first class example, conduct the flight tests, and compare and
contrast it with established standards for other 701s.
If it turns out to be a viable combination, builders can trust that we'll share the information that will
allow other 701 builders to optimize their Corvair installations.
Since we're headed to the factory, I
brought up the possibility of holding a Corvair Day there. We've been to the Mexico factory twice
before, and true to their reputation, the Heintz family and their crew are excellent hosts. Although they
normally try to confine their events to the normal work week, I appealed to Sebastien for a Saturday date
because a significant number of our builders still work Monday through Friday, and would not be able to
attend a weekday function. After speaking with their crew, Sebastien and Nick graciously agreed to
open their doors Saturday, May 20, and the event was on.
If you're already a Zenith builder, you've probably made a pilgrimage to the factory. If you've been
interested in the Zenith/Corvair combination, but haven't made the commitment, here's a first class opportunity
to come to the factory and see the facility and meet the leadership that produces one of the most popular
experimental aircraft of all time. You can tour the factory, inspect kits prior to shipment, and check out
the factory demonstrator aircraft. If you're thinking about picking up a set of plans, or signing up for a
future rudder workshop, you should call the factory in advance at (573) 581-9000, as these things would be
easier to schedule on a regular working day. You can find directions to the factory on the
Zenith Virtual Distance GPS for Fun Web page or
at their Visiting the Factory Page.
I will be driving up and am planning on a quick, four-day trip. The only other stop will be to cover a final
pre-flight inspection on Cleone Markwell's Corvair powered 601HD.
Due to the tight schedule, and the fact we're picking up a kit, we are not bringing our own 601. However,
we will have two engines on hand, examples of the 601 installation components, and of course, a good
selection of Conversion Manuals, videotapes and DVDs. As a bonus for every 601
builder who already owns a copy of our Conversion Manual, we will be giving away preliminary copies of
our much awaited Corvair to 601 Installation Manual. This comprehensive guide is still in the works, but
we want to get a preview of the information in the hands of builders in attendance.
The brief nature of the visit precludes us from doing any actual building on engines. However, I encourage
anyone with a core motor or components to clean them per the manuals and bring them for inspection.
I will personally inspect every piece that builders bring. With our experience, I can often give builders a
green light to proceed with building from their existing core. We'll be there to help, and keep as many
people as possible motivated and progressing. As with all our events, there is no charge, and no reservation
is required. Only your willingness to learn and have a good time doing so are required. You need not be
an existing customer of ours, nor a Manual owner to attend. We'd like a lot of new people to show up and
have a look for themselves. Bring a friend, wife or girlfriend if you like.
The event starts 9 a.m. Saturday. We can cover a lot of ground and have a good time as well in a few hours.
The event is well worth traveling for. Out of respect for the Zenith crew sacrificing part of their weekend for
this, we're going to have a brisk pace, but there will certainly be time to cover everyone's questions and
have a pleasurable afternoon meeting other builders who are friends new and old. Don't let this opportunity
to get to know the Zenith crew in the company of other Corvair builders pass you by. It promises
to be a great event, and we're certainly looking forward to seeing you there.
Corvair Crew Action Update May 4, 2006
601 Cross Country Delivery
Last week, while Grace and I were traveling to Canada to meet with builders from the North, our test
pilot Gus made a thousand mile delivery flight in
Phil Maxson's 601XL. As builders may recall, Phil brought his project to our
hangar during Corvair College #9 for finish work, engine installation and wiring.
Following a perfect test period, we displayed the aircraft in the Zenith booth at
Sun 'N Fun.
Phil came down to share his building experience with others during the second half of
Sun 'N Fun. He rightfully enjoyed high praise for the plane. Truth be told, the vast majority of the work
in the plane is his. My crew was only there to help him across the finish line and do the test flying.
Phil is a family guy in his 40s with an intense corporate job. By the end of Sun 'N Fun, he didn't have
enough time off for a casual trip home. He'd been so easy to work with throughout the project, I told him
that I'd arrange to have the airplane delivered to his home airport in New Jersey, and also have Gus
give him a thorough checkout in his plane on his home turf.
After a slight weather delay, mid-morning Friday, Gus
left for New Jersey. In the above photo, Gus overflys Mayport Naval Air Station near Jacksonville. If you
look closely, you can see the aircraft carrier JFK near the end of the runway.
Gus took the above photo at a fuel stop at Ridgeland, S.C. The biplane is an ultra rare Waco CTO Taperwing.
Even if you don't know every obscure Waco model as well as Gus does, there are rich rewards awaiting every builder
when you travel to airports near and far in your airplane. His first overnight stop was near Raleigh/Durham. The airplane's easily capable of flying a lot farther
in a day, but Gus was in no big rush, and had been looking forward to a relaxing trip, not setting any
Above is a photo of Phil's panel in typical cruise configuration. Gus reported this was a power setting
he used for most of the trip. Keep in mind that Phil's airplane has no gear leg fairings, no wheel pants,
no landing gear step fairings, and the brake lines are hanging out in the breeze. When these details are installed,
the plane will operate near the limit of the Sport Pilot category. This is not speculation. Keep in mind
our own 601 has flown with both 2,700 and 3,100cc engines, gear leg fairings, wheel pants,
and several props. We have accurate notes on the benefits each of these combinations provides.
Before anyone jumps in and says, "A guy on the Net said his 601 does 160mph on a Renault le Car engine," or anyone writes us about some other plane's Web
site, let me say that virtually every number quoted for aircraft on the Net and in brochures is somehow optimized or inflated.
Much of the information on various engines will never be backed up with a flight demonstration. Conversely,
everything that we do has been demonstrated to dozens of customers on demo flights. If you want to compare our
real numbers, please compare them to what dozens of other independent pilots have witnessed in person.
At Oshkosh 1999, a crew of Jim Rahm's friends brought his V-8 Lancair IVP to Oshkosh. It had just demonstrated
several sustained runs bordering on 380mph TAS. At the booth next to us was an engine company that displayed an
engine mockup that they claimed would fly in their own Lancair soon. They told everyone that their installation
would exceed 400mph. Our chief engineer, Al Jonic, who won the EAA's August Rasbit award for engineering,
simply told people that it was impossible for him to build a proven, flying engine that would directly
compete against the imagination and talk of salesmen. The statement holds true across the board.
Phil's airplane has a 66" two blade Warp Drive prop. It is ground adjustable and is
currently set for a climb configuration. The cruise rpm would come down 200 or so with another degree of pitch,
but the climb performance would not be as strong. The engine is not bothered by the rpm. The 3,200 redline is
arbitrary, set in this airframe as a reminder that the 66" diameter prop is beginning to get noisy at that rpm.
The identical engine installed in a KR-2 with a 54" prop would have a propeller imposed rpm limit over 3,600.
The engine is in no way harmed by turning rpm like this. The fuel burn at this setting is a little over 5 gallons
per hour. Of special note is the CHT gauge: If you look close, it's bearly touching 300F. Our CHT limit
on the engine is 575F. Where the majority of alternative engines can barely cool themselves, the Corvair
has outstanding reserve cooling potential.
A lot of builders have asked good natured questions about the small inlets on our
slick cowling, and the fact that we have the alternator up front. They question
whether these factors make the engine difficult to cool. While I could share a lot of theory and calculation to
show that it would work, the CHT gauge at 300F above is worth a thousand words and pages of calculations.
Phil's airplane has a slight variation on our ignition wiring. At the top of the panel is our standard
A/B DP/DT ignition switch, which controls both the ignition and the fuel pumps. Instead of a pushbutton starter,
Phil's airplane has a key switch. The string prevents the key from ever getting lost. Our own
601 has a pushbutton starter just above the throttle.
Gus overflew the Jamestown, Va., area at 4,000' AGL. The over-water flight to the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula was more
than 15 miles. This gave Gus no worries, as he reported that the plane flew with absolutely flawless smooth
performance the entire flight.
In the photo above, the airplane makes landfall on the far side of Chesapeake Bay. Gus flew up the length
of the peninsula, but chose to skirt the western side of Philadelphia. To demonstrate that you can travel a
long way in the U.S. in a simple airplane, consider that Phil's airplane has no radios, nor transponder. Gus
had a handheld, but he did not talk to ATC once during the entire flight.
Above, something you can only see and appreciate from a light plane: This visually arresting contoured
farming pattern was in northern Maryland. Certainly on the same day, tens of thousands of motorists drove
through this area, and the same number of airline passengers flew six miles above it. But only the birds
and light plane pilots had this vantage point.
Although it looks small, this is the Delaware River, above. It separates Pennsylvania from New Jersey.
Phil's home airport, Hackettstown, is a small strip in the rolling hills of northwestern New Jersey.
Here's Hackettstown from the air. Gus reported that it's a 2,000' narrow strip on a ridgeback. It actually
has a significant rise in the middle of it. The icing on the cake is that it has obstructions on both ends:
the houses you see in the foreground, and high tension wires on the far side.
Once on the ground, the place showed itself to be a very friendly beehive of activity. About 30 planes
are based there. Phil's airplane attracted a lot of immediate interest, and fit right in with all the other
planes that people fly for fun there. In the above photo, a much coveted Piper PA-12 takes off over Phil's
Between Saturday afternoon and Sunday, Gus and Phil made more than 20 flights in the airplane. Again, it
performed flawlessly. Even at full gross weight, Gus stated that Hackettstown was not a challenging
airport for the 601. He said that with a little practice, a sharp pilot could reliably fly in and out of an
airport with the same obstructions and 800-1000' less runway. Again, the 601's low wing loading and
generous span make it an excellent performer on short fields.
On Monday, with Phil completely checked out in his own plane, Gus returned commercially from Newark (N.J.)
airport to Daytona Beach, Fla. The photo above shows the Manhattan skyline on the horizon beyond Newark. Gus'
flight North is yet another example of the Hangar Gang's commitment to
individual builders in the world of experimental aviation. While many alternative engine companies regard
the sale of the engine as job done, and a handful of the better ones actually have a commitment to seeing it
installed on your airframe, I can't think of any, especially in the world of affordable engines, that
are willing to do all these things, and deliver it and check you out in it.
Phil called to say that Sunday represented the completion of a dream he had long worked to make into reality.
His heartfelt words of gratitude are the real core of our motivation to bring Corvair engines to builders
A Few Words About 'The Fan Club'
Every year, there emerges on the Internet an individual who takes great offense to my work with Corvair
engines. Besides being a vocal critic on Discussion Groups, they always have several characteristics in
common: they've never met me in person, they've never seen a Corvair motor turn a propeller in person, they may have
spent hundreds of hours on Discussion Groups, but they've never built a single part that ever went flying.
Most of these people's experience with experimental aircraft boils down to a single flight in a company
demo plane. Most of them have never been to Oshkosh.
How could anyone who knows so little be so motivated to criticize? Invariably, the answer always comes back
to their misunderstanding or distaste for the popularity of my work and the friends we have from all over
the world. This year's example of inexperienced critic is a fixture on the 601 Zenith Matronics list.
I normally ignore one or two negative comments written in, dismissing them as a nice guy having a bad day,
or a misunderstanding yet to be corrected. When it goes on for an extended period of time, or the venom is directed at friends of ours
merely expressing their enthusiasm for our work, I usually address the person privately and directly.
When this fails, this year's Mr. Negativity becomes the subject of an update.
This critic, whose homebuilding experience is encompassed by the phrase, "has built a rudder," has made
unfounded claims that my ignition system has had failures,
and responded to one of my letters by telling me how shoddy my work is, even though he's never seen any of
it in person. Ironically, he's a big fan of the Heintz family, but has some mental mechanism that allows him
to maintain his admiration for them while acknowledging that my allegedly shoddy work is displayed in the
Zenith booth at Oshkosh and Sun 'N Fun year after year.
Letters from this man indicate that he has the same problem that last year's detractor did: His criticism
is all motivated simply because of the broadbased popularity and hard earned support we've generated through
years of service to builders. These people who've never met me nor seen me work with anyone all claim that
our friends think of me as an infallible aviation god. This ridiculous claim is easy to make when you've never
bothered to take a look at my direct work with thousands of homebuilders. Anyone who's ever met me will
readily tell you that I would never tolerate anyone treating me as a deity or even something other than another
builder. At airshows, we eat lunch, attend forums, and check out new stuff just like everyone else. We often do
this in the company of old friends, and new ones we've just met. If anyone ever felt we were unapproachable,
it's because they've never met us. Search as you like, you won't find any of our friends referring to me as
royalty. This is only done by Internet critics. In the interest of full disclosure, I must say I did recently acquire a gold, paper crown at a Burger King on Our Way Back
From Canada. It's a nice complement to Grace in her tiara.
While I am justifiably proud of the creativity, hard work and relentless effort that
my crew has put into our work, I certainly have no interest in admiration beyond
the simple respect due the hard work of my crew. The real perspective on the enthusiasm of our friends who are
fans of our work is easy to understand if you've been a recipient of it or even objectively looked at a week's
worth of our work. For many builders, the mere fact that I've relentlessly pursued providing them with an
affordable powerplant option in a marketplace dominated by expensive products earns their
solid gratitude. Between the Colleges and Night Schools,
I've directly worked with more than a thousand homebuilders.
Not a single one of them ever paid anything, certainly not homage, to come and learn. You'd really have to
be a tremendously negative person to not understand that fun and camaraderie are the raw material that
everything we do is built on.
The relentless testing, the honest approach, the direct writing, the hundreds of house calls, a few thousand
e-mails, and late night phone calls sharing techniques, encouragement and humor along with a proven track
record of flying yields friends far and wide. Through all else, these people have sustained our enthusiasm and
refueled our commitment. It was a long path, and didn't happen overnight or without frustration.
There was a time, not so many years ago, that my own experience in homebuilding barely went beyond having
built a rudder. An intrinsic element of how I got to where I am today is that I began with respectful admiration
for anyone who knew more than I did. I befriended them and asked them to teach me what they had time to share.
I paid for some of it, I volunteered on projects, and I traveled near and far to learn from and emulate people
who had proven track records of success. But the journey has been well worth it, and I'm sure will continue
to be so. If you're looking at your own rudder and have your own dreams of aviation and camaraderie, your path will be
more productive, rewarding and fun than that of any Internet critic.
The fact that this year's Negative Nancy and his predecessors couldn't fathom this tells me a lot about what kind of people
they are. My Conversion Manual begins with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt about how much
he detested critics who had done nothing themselves. My real issue with these people is their negativity and how
they use it to attempt to sap the enthusiasm and positive feelings from other builders. I address this directly
here so that extremely negative people know there are limits to my tolerance, that builders we're yet to meet
know the real nature of the bond between my crew and our friends, and to express the appreciation and
respect beyond words that I have for the real builders making sure and steady progress toward achieving their
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
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
At The Hangar In July 2006
June 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