Oshkosh 2011 Album
I have just returned from a highly productive two week trip to both Brodhead and Oshkosh. On the long drive home I had plenty of time to reflect and put things in perspective. While every year has its own high points that make it seem like the best ever,
these tend to blend together in your memory of most years, and will later bring a smile to your face when reviewing photos or speaking of memories with friends. However, this year had enough special moments to realize that it might very well have been the most enjoyable year I have ever had going to both of these events. Although the pictures below contain numerous photos of aircraft, the real story is about people. 2011 was my 20th trip to AirVenture. In the final analysis, what makes the trip worthwhile every year are the people that you know, the new people you'll meet, and the knowledge that by and large,
the people in aviation will be the best people that you will know in your path through life.
Above, Kevin Purtee’s Pietenpol lands at Brodhead. This was the second year in a row that he made the journey from Texas to Wisconsin. After a few days at Brodhead accompanied by his lovely wife, he took the airplane up to Oshkosh and shared it with countless new potential Pietenpol builders as well as loyal fans.
A photograph from Brodhead showing Shad and Gary Bell’s Corvair powered Pietenpol in the foreground, after having flown in from Ohio. Behind it is Kevin's aircraft from Texas, and the far slot is Dick Navratil’s Rotec radial powered Piet.
The organizers of Brodhead generously reserve me a speaking slot on Saturday afternoon. I always take the opportunity to send a positive message to new builders and those still in the middle of the process. The rewards of homebuilding belong to the persistent. Brodhead affords the opportunity to frankly address builders in a spirited way that is often more memorable than forums I have given to audiences at AirVenture and Sun 'N Fun. Preaching to the converted has the advantage of being able to address in more depth the issues that builders face. The central theme of my speech was to avoid negative people at all costs as they are the most serious impediment to builders who wish to achieve something from their hours spent in the shop. Many people mistakenly believe that lack of technical skills or even a shortage of funds are the major threat to homebuilding success. In reality these are simple things to cope with. Skills can be learned, and budgets can be stretched. Motivation is the element that is always in short supply. Contrary to what many people think, this is not because some people are inherently lazy. I have come to understand that motivation is primarily sapped by negative people, people who spread disinformation, people who don't want others to succeed. If you learn anything from me, learn to avoid these people like the plague.
For the second year in a row, we gathered data on weight and balance for a wide variety of Piets at Brodhead. The 14 aircraft that we measured last year were worked into a highly technical set of articles that ran all last year in the BPAN, available by subscription at www.Pietenpols.org. This year we had a chance to pick up data on eight new aircraft that we will also publish in the newsletter. Above, Dick Navratil’s Piet sits on the electronic scales that I brought up from Florida to do this task. Special thanks to the crew of volunteers who assisted me in collecting the data. One of these people is John Schmidt of Minnesota, sitting at left above.
On hand at Brodhead was Tom Brown with his Corvair powered Pietenpol. This aircraft is been flying since 1980. Although it has spent its life in a cold climate, and it has competed with all the other beautiful aircraft that Tom owns and has access to, he has still managed to put 1,325 hours on it. By my count, it is the highest time Corvair powered aircraft in the fleet. We did a weight and balance on this aircraft and it came in at a feathery light 624 pounds. This is 125 pounds lighter than one of the A-65 Continental hand prop aircraft at Brodhead. It is a very effective demonstration that it is a myth that Corvair engines are inherently heavy. Good aircraft building technique is far more important than which engine you choose when shooting for a lightweight plans built homebuilt.
A photo of Kevin Purtee’s Pietenpol airborne.
I have given several forums on the Corvair at AirVenture every year for the past decade. These were particularly well attended this year. A mark of success of the Corvair movement was that we had 11 people in attendance in a single forum that currently have a flying Corvair powered aircraft. The popularity of Corvair powered flight is ever-expanding. The state of the economy has changed the consumer appeal of purchasing expensive imported engines, but it has negligible effect on the desires of core homebuilders to learn, build and fly. The Corvair fits this model perfectly, and remains popular in both good and economically challenging times.
Mark Chouinard stands in front of our Oshkosh booth with Kevin Purtee. We thank Mark for providing a number of the photographs for this update.
The theme of AirVenture 2011 was the Hundredth Anniversary of Naval Aviation. This brought out a number of aircraft you don't see very often, including this ultra-rare Grumman F7-F Tiger cat. The same power as a Douglas A-26 Invader in an airframe half the size.
In our booth at Oshkosh I stand with three pilots who flew in their Corvair powered Zeniths. From left to right, Shane McDaniels who flew in a 2700cc CH 650 from Missouri, Woody Harris in a 2850cc CH 601B from California, and Andy Elliott in a 3100cc CH 601B from Arizona.
The above photo is Shane and Phyllis McDaniels’ 650. The fantastic finish work was admired by legions of builders all week. This aircraft was the first amateur built Zenith 650 to be registered with the FAA. When a new model of aircraft comes out and the first one flying is Corvair powered, it speaks a lot about the popularity of the powerplant.
Corvair College #14 hosts Ken Pavlou and Pramod Katowal took the opportunity to host a very nice Corvair cookout in the campground at Oshkosh. From left to right, ZenVair 601 builder and pilot Woody Harris, Roy Szarafinski of RoysGarage.com and Fisher Horizon builder Jim Waters of Pennsylvania enjoying themselves.
Among others at the Corvair cookout were, from left to right above, 601 builder Larry Webber and the Whittingtons, who have a flying Corvair powered 601 HDS.
Above is Andy Elliott's 601 XL tailwheel aircraft. It now has 350 hours on it. Its 3100cc engine flew 200 hours in our own 601, then moved on to 325 more in Andy’s aircraft before he added a Weseman bearing to the front of the engine. This is Andy’s second trip to AirVenture in the aircraft, and he has flown it all over the Southwest. There are a number of very popular videos of his flying on YouTube.
The above 601B belongs to David Harms of Iowa. David his flew this aircraft for a number of years before the wing upgrade, and is now out enjoying it again. He has brought this Corvair powered aircraft to Oshkosh before and it was also at the 2009 Zenith Open House in Mexico, Missouri. The aircraft has about 180 flight hours on it.
In the above photo, Woody Harris’ 2850cc Zenith 601B. Woody got the aircraft out of the paint shop the day before the notice came that said the wing needed to be disassembled for the upgrade. While no one looks forward to such a notice, Woody simply went back to the shop, dug into the work, and emerged with an improved aircraft with a slightly compromised paint job. His flight across the United States took him over the Rockies, past the Tetons, Old Faithful, Mount Rushmore and on to Oshkosh. After the show he went all the way to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This aircraft has also been flown to the Arlington air show in Washington state, and a number of other states out West. Woody also extensively flew Rick Lindstrom's Corvair powered 601 XL, including a trip across country from Florida to California. When he returns to California, he will be well on his way to having flown a Corvair powered aircraft in all of the lower 48 states.
A nice photo of Mark Langford's 3100cc KR-2S with the convention arch in the background. As the sticker notes, the aircraft has more than 1,000 flight hours on it. This was the second year in a row that Mark competed in the AirVenture Cup Race. The racers faced a lot of challenges, from weather delays to strong headwinds. Mark reported that it was a lot of fun. And hats off, he won his class.
Joe Horton of Pennsylvania also flew in his Corvair powered KR-2S. Like Mark, this was his fourth or fifth trip to AirVenture in the plane. In the rush of getting started at the air show, I did not have a chance to run out and get a picture of Joe's aircraft, but I certainly wanted to note here that this Cherry Grove Trophy winner again brought his 600-hour plane to AirVenture for other builders to enjoy and be motivated by.
Here’s a shot from outside our booth on the main drag in the North Aircraft Display area. Our booth was directly between Zenith and Van's Aircraft. This is the third year in a row that we have maintained our own booth at AirVenture. Previous to this, we displayed our aircraft and products inside the Zenith area. Four years ago it was very difficult to get your own space in the North Display Area because there were a lot of startup LLC businesses that had flashy displays there. In 2003 and 2004, the U.S. economy was awash with easy money. Many of the startup LLCs had an easy time selling questionable products to aviators who were by and large spending money that came out of home equity lines of credit. We all know how that story ended. Today in the North Aircraft Area, only the strong survive. Outfits like ours that had a real model of service and a real product of value are still there. The LLCs run by slick ripoff artists are gone, along with the money of the people foolish enough to spend it with them. Some of these LLCs still have Web sites that are functioning because you can operate a Web site that looks good while the remains of your business lives in a self storage park. The easy way to evaluate any serious aircraft business is to question whether or not they returned to Oshkosh every year. It has been said in an economic downturn that strong businesses catch a cold and weak ones get pneumonia. Nowhere is this more true than in the field of experimental aircraft. In the free money era, many of us who were highly critical of startup businesses with no ethics were often criticized ourselves as anti-progress, or partisan. In reality we were trying to prevent a lot of good guys from losing a lot of money to these people. To the readers who at the time did not understand what the fuss was about, I sincerely hope that you are not one of the people who were taken in by the ripoff artists, and I hope your judgment of the people who spoke out like myself and others has been softened by seeing the final results.
At the main square under the brown arch at AirVenture there is an area of brickwork where people can purchase a square foot to share some of their thoughts with fellow aviators who happen to be passing by. One morning while walking around taking photographs, I stopped to read a few of the stones. This particular one moved me beyond words. I spent a long time staring at it and thinking about this fellow aviator’s experience. To many people, Oshkosh is just another commercial tradeshow. Clearly this person felt differently. He felt that it was an appropriate repository of some very powerful feelings, and a good place to leave a message for other aviators he would likely never meet.
Wherever this man is, I hope he's enjoying a peaceful sunny summer afternoon aloft
with rich memories of those he has lost.
In the above photo, Woody Harris’ 2850cc Zenith 601B sits at the end of the ramp in North Carolina at First Flight Airport with the Wright Brothers Monument in the background. This brings his aircraft to the end of his first leg of a coast-to-coast and return flight. I believe that this is a pretty classy way for Dad to show up at his daughter's house on the East Coast. Although Woody has spent a lifetime in the mechanical world predominantly driving race cars in both Europe and America, it's worth noting that he's been in aviation less than five years. While he certainly would have thought of it before, it was at the urging of his daughter who is an ATP, that he explore some adventures in flying. I mention this because if you’re out there reading this and you're thinking that you might be too late in the game to have your own adventures, you're quite wrong. If you don't have a pilots license, you have never built an airplane before, and you’re 63 years old, you are at the exact spot where Woody was four years ago. Yes his mechanical background gave him a leg up, but it plays a smaller role than most people suspect. His determined character and his quest to learn new things were much bigger factors in his favor. If you had been standing next to me at Oshkosh when Woody arrived, and watched him hop out of the airplane and talk for 4 minutes straight about the previous days flying, including sentences like “We timed it perfectly because Old Faithful went off just as we flew by,” you would note that all the hours that you're putting in your shop are well worth the adventures that lie in your future. Go out there tonight and get one evening closer to writing the same chapter in your own story that Woody has written in his.
"Real freedom is the sustained act of being an individual." WW - 2009
Now At The Hangar
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December 2006 At The Hangar Part 1
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At The Hangar In April 2006
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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