Action Update Sept. 30, 2007
Important Address Information
Farewell To Bruce Smith
It's been a busy few weeks since our last update. We've traveled far and met with friends both flying and still building.
We present photos and more in the following update.
Very Important. Please Update Your Manual Covers, Print and Save This
Our Address Is:
5000-18 HWY 17 #247
Orange Park, FL 32003
On the Internet in the past few days, someone posted the news that we'd moved. To show you the timely speed of the
Internet, this "news" is only 18 months old.
Many people have a Conversion Manual with my Port Orange P.O. Box number printed on the cover.
Although I've had that P.O. Box for 14 years, the only correct address to use for us is the Orange Park address. This news
has been on our Web site, and we've been telling people continuously, but still mail is sent to the old address. We had it
set to be forwarded, but the forward expired and the Post Office will not renew it. When we learned this, I made a trip to
their dead letter office and retrieved more than 70 pieces of mail that were headed to oblivion.
Please make a note of the new address and remind your friends. We'll be filling those orders sent to the old address
A Brief Overview of Our Locations
Although I've been working with Corvair engines since 1989, we got to know many of our "old school" customers in the five years
we were located at the Spruce Creek Fly In in Port Orange. This is where we held the first three Corvair Colleges, and Grace,
Kevin and I shared neighboring T-hangars. During this time, our primary flying was done with the Pietenpol
and then the Skycoupe. Many builders visited and test ran their engines, including Mark Langford
with his original 3,100.
Late in 2003, we picked up our 601 kit at the same time we found out that our hangars were purchased by stock car racer
Mark Martin, who slated them for demolition. Grace, Kevin, Gus and I moved 17 miles south to our Edgewater, Fla., hangar.
If you're one of our newer builders, you know this as the sites of Corvair Colleges #6, 6.5, 8, 9 and 10. This is the
hangar most prominently featured on FlyCorvair.com. The hangar was brand new when we moved in, and I leased it from a friend
of ours who bought it as an investment. What few people outside Florida realize is that hangars like this, built to 140mph
hurricane codes, are enormously strong, but very expensive. The hangar's about 4,500 square feet, and it cost $75 a square foot.
Investment like this requires $2,000 a month in rent, serious overhead. But the expansion of our Corvair business justified it.
Dave The Bear and Steve Upson were quickly members of the crew, and we were off and running.
Before this period, growth of the Corvair movement was slow and steady. While we worked hard and were grateful, over time I
developed the belief that the Corvair movement was going to be very big, and the best way to accelerate it was to conduct an
enormous amount of research, teach a lot of free Colleges, host an enormous amount of Open Houses, build some high profile
projects, and develop a lot of products. The Edgewater hangar was the right setting to pack 12 years
worth of growth into three short years. Our house was right around the corner, and I pretty much worked seven days a week,
12 hours a day the whole time.
They were good productive years for everybody who worked there. Our in house planes were our
601, the turbo Skycoupe, and Dave The Bear's Wagabond. Phil Maxson's 601
and Rick Lindstrom's Kit Planes 601 were
well known projects covered in the Hangar. We built the Dynomometer there and ran dozens of customer
and in-house built engines there. It was work, but a lot of fun. Toward the middle of our stay in Edgewater, Grace and I
got married. In the previous years, she had always been a big part of our business and allowed us
to put it ahead of a lot of things in our lives.
In the Spring of 2006, Grace and I bought a house on a residential airpark in North Florida. From this point, we encouraged
people to contact us at our Orange Park address. For the next year, I commuted 100 miles each way to the Edgewater hangar.
I told the gang it was inevitable that the glorious fun of the Hangar Gang period was going to transition into something else
for all of us. Upson had heart surgery and was unable to return to work. Dave The Bear, who'd been logging his own 80 mile each
way commute for five years, took a more practical job with Liberty Aerospace closer to home. After much discussion, I turned over
the Edgewater lease to Gus in February 2007 and the Edgewater FlyCorvair.com hangar became the Fly With Gus hangar. Kevin
still builds engines there, and we're working on some joint projects, but Kevin and Gus each have started spin off businesses
from our work with Corvairs.
Kevin will continue building complete Corvair flight engines under the name Corvairs With Kevin. He's delayed announcing
this until the completion of the remaining FlyCorvair.com engines on order. We'll have more information shortly. Rick Lindstrom's
601, seen in the series of Kit Planes articles, had its test time flown off by April 2007. This was the last plane
completed under the FlyCorvair.com banner. Gus' expertise lies in airframes, and his spin off business addresses this.
The 701 project seen on our Web page is an example of our joint efforts. Sandy Crile, owner of the airplane, is the developer
of the Edgewater airport. I separately contracted with him to provide the firewall forward package on the airplane. Gus,
functioning with his new business, contracted separately to build the airframe. We'd ambitiously hoped to have the airplane
at Sun 'N Fun 2007, but Oshkosh was a more reasonable goal. The firewall
forward package has been about 95% done for a long time. The project is delayed because Gus is just now completing the
airframe. He's faced a lot of challenges starting his business, and its future looks bright, but as everyone who owns their
own show knows, it's never as easy as it looks from the outside. The plane is being built as an E-LSA, and with the deadline
looming, it must be completed.
At our residential airpark location, Grace and I have a hangar and workshop about half the size of the massive Edgewater hangar.
My commute to work has been shortened to 10 feet. The residential nature of our setting precludes running a retail business where
people can visit here. However, we do all our manufacturing and shipping from here.
A handful of our close friends like Mark Langford have flown in and stayed with us, but these are all people with whom we've stayed while on the road.
We don't publish our location because we're in a different setting and phase now that doesn't include customers stopping by.
After years of leading very public lives, Grace and I can enjoy a little sanctuary at home now.
This no visitors policy matters little because the vast majority of our customers, including a number of those flying, have never been to any
of our hangars.
A quick glance at our Web site shows that I travel to other locations more than any other engine supplier in
this industry. Our 850 mile through-the-night trip to the KR Gathering, and the upcoming Corvair College #11 in California
are current examples of our longstanding practice of going to the builders. We're actually looking forward to increasing our
public contact through travel because I'm no longer tied to the heavy overhead of Edgewater and running the crew on long
The Edgewater years paid off by making the Corvair engine a known and respected name in experimental aviation. Grace
and I now focus our efforts on our traditional builders, people who need conversion parts, installation components and information.
While high profile magazine planes are good for getting the word out, our longstanding support of real homebuilders is what our
work is all about.
Far from being stagnant, the current situation facilitates a lot of interesting advancements. Our Gold Series products have
come to fruition here recently. We still engage in hardcore R&D, but a lot of this is joint ventures like working with Mark from
Falcon on the EFI engine and having Dan Weseman log the test hours on the Gold Hub.
As good as the past has been, the future of Corvairs is even brighter and promises many more good times to come.
Last Thursday after working all day, Gary Coppen and I hit the road to drive the 850 miles to the KR Gathering in Mount Vernon, Ill.
The long drive was rewarded with a great event. This year is the 35th anniversary of the KR series. The KR Gathering is an annual
event that's extremely well organized and professionally run. More than 20 KRs flew in for the event, including four with Corvair power.
We had a great time with friends old and new, and it was a pleasant contrast to the hectic week at Oshkosh or the intensity for me of a Corvair
Here's a photo of KRVair builder/pilot Joe Horton with his plane. Out of more than 20 pilots, he took the long distance award for
flying in from eastern Pennsylvania. Joe also flew to Oshkosh this year, and to
Corvair College #10 last year.
Mark Langford of Alabama showed up with wheelpants on his airplane, above. They boosted his speed significantly. His Web site, http://home.hiwaay.net/~langford,
has details of how his plane ran in the 100-mile triangular performance course. To anyone unacquainted with the inherent strength of the
Corvair, consider that his plane used a 54x54, a climb prop on his plane. He turned 4,000 rpm at wide open throttle for more than 30
minutes without a break. In the low 300s, his CHT remained 250 F below redline. Running like this would turn other engines into
expensive scrap metal, but with the Corvair, it's just another day in the life of Mark's engine.
Mark Jones of Wisconsin was on hand with his 2,700cc KRVair, above. It's now sporting Falcon cylinder heads and one of our Electronic/Points
Ignition Systems. Mark justifiably feels that he now has a bulletproof engine that will serve him through hundreds of hours of
adventures. His early hours were initially done on a fairly inexpensive Corvair engine. He quickly understood that the hours aloft in his
plane are one of the better parts of his life and worthy of any expenditure to improve the quality of his plane. If you're just
getting started on your engine, carefully consider his experience.
Scott VanderVeen flew the Corvair Personal Cruiser in from the Chicago area. Although it was a KR event, the plane, above, attracted a
lot of positive interest. It's now flying on a 64x52 Sensenich, and can exceed 150 mph while retaining a good rate of climb.
Above is KRVair builder Terry Samsa. Terry came up with a rental tool that makes tapping the threads in the end of a Corvair crank
very easy. He demonstrated it twice at the Gathering. You can find more information on this at www.krnet.org
Longtime friends Jack Cooper, above left, and Mike Hyers, right, came in from North Carolina. If they look familiar, they're
veterans of multiple Corvair Colleges.
Steve Bennett from Great Planes VWs and myself gave a joint engine forum. Many builders were struck by the similar
approaches Steve and I use in our businesses. This is no coincidence. Both of us cover the most practical engines on the market.
I've long noticed that many of the flashiest new engines displayed at Oshkosh and in magazines are here today/gone tomorrow projects
offered by the most boastful windbags with no flying customers to back it up. In total contrast, Steve, who has helped countless people
fly VWs, is a modest guy who is content to let his well established reputation speak for itself.
Farewell To Bruce Smith
Last week brought the somber news that an aviator for whom I had great respect had died in the crash of a certified Swift airplane.
In some aviation circles, the term airline pilot is popularly used in a negative way. To me, Bruce Smith was the personification of
why we used to hold airline pilots in great esteem. He was a classic Pan Am overseas captain in the Golden Age of jet travel.
He was a man who lived life in a way that Teddy Roosevelt would have called strenuous. Bruce raised his children abroad and captained his
own sailboat across the Atlantic many times. Eating dinner with him involved immodest drinking and commensurate storytelling. He'd always
flown light aircraft. His Navion was the very first airplane I ever worked on as a newly minted A&P.
His funloving side coexisted with his far more serious morality. His wife was on the Pan Am 103 flight that was
blown up by Libyan terrorists over Lockerbie, Scotland. I met Bruce after this when he was living in modest circumstances. He was one of
a very small minority of the victims' families who refused to accept any compensation offered which did not include a Libyan
acknowledgement of their involvement. He traveled to Africa and offered his services to anyone willing to do damage to the Libyan regime.
He was principle above all else. In recent years, the Libyans admitted their role and denounced terrorism in order to get their
assets unfrozen in the U.S. This never would have happened if Bruce and the handful of others had capitulated on their principles.
Over the years that I knew him, Bruce spoke little on these subjects. He was far more concerned with getting the most out of the day
at hand. But this was all done while living his life according to his code of what was right. The years I knew him were a sterling
example of how a principled and resilient man lives. He was truly a pilot in command of his own life.
Our friend Evan Wilner wrote to let us know that the New York Times obituary for Bruce Smith is
worthwhile reading at
September 11, 2007
Corvair College #11
Because today is the sixth anniversary of 9/11, let me share a personal perspective that some of our older friends
already know. Six years ago I was staying at my parents' house in New Jersey, recovering from my accident that summer.
After retiring from the U.S. Navy in 1976, my father accepted a job with Ebasco in New York City, the world's largest
engineering firm. Ebasco later merged with Raytheon, and my father became the director of advanced technology. For more
than 20 years, he rode the train into NYC to his office on the 89th floor of World Trade Center Tower 2.
On the morning of September 11th, we received a phone call from my doctor telling us an appointment had opened up
with an optometrist specializing in people with burns to their eyes. We agreed to go, and this changed our plans for
the morning. My father had planned, now that I could hobble around, to bring me with him to work and then proceed uptown for
lunch at his monthly Naval Academy Alumni reunion where we'd spend the afternoon with his friends.
As my father drove me to the eye appointment, the tragedy of 9/11 unfolded on the radio. Later that night, I went for a
walk around the block with my father, and asked him if this seemed like his memories of Dec. 7, 1941. On that Sunday, my
father was just about to turn 16 and was attending a Passaic (N.J.) High School football game. With the news of Pearl Harbor,
the game was called off. All the seniors on the team decided to enlist in the Navy as a group the following morning. It
was their fate to be assigned to the cruiser the U.S.S. Juneau. For shipmates, they happened to have five brothers
from one Iowa family whose name would become tragically well known, the Sullivans. Before 1942 was over, the Juneau was
sunk and they were all gone. This story and a Chief Petty Officer named Frank Ryan led my father to devote more than three
decades of his life to the Navy.
Without yet knowing the scope of the Sept. 11 tragedy, my father offered that there was a similar feel. That evening we
received numerous phone calls at the house from families of my father's co-workers who wanted to know if my father had
seen them leave the building. I had nothing to offer them but my hopes. The following morning, word spread that there had been
55 unclaimed cars at the local Summit train station parking lot. CBS' 60 Minutes later did a story on this. 55 families were waiting for someone who was never
coming home. Two towns in New Jersey had experienced similar devastating losses spaced by 60 years.
The next day, we went up to Washington Rock, a bluff that overlooks Manhattan. People had left hundreds of flowers,
candles and small notes. One note with a photo of a man in his 30s caught my eye. It was written by a friend saying
good bye and included a promise to raise the man's children.
Corvair College #11 Update
As previously mentioned, Corvair College #11 will be held Nov. 9-11 at the Quality Sportplanes facility in Cloverdale, Calif.
Our host, Michael Heintz, has a Web page up at http://www.qualitysportplanes.com/qsp-2006_077.htm
that includes directions, information and places to stay. We held a warm up event there last October, and had a great time.
This event will be more of the same, just on a significantly larger scale.
To cover some of the basic questions quickly: The event is free and you do not need reservations to attend. If you have
a core engine, you should bring it so I can personally inspect it and answer any questions.
Just like Corvair College #10, the best format is having two pre-prepared demonstrator
assembly engines. On the technical side, the College is primarily about the transfer of technical information, what we
know and what builders want to learn. The quickest way to achieve this is by direct demonstration on good examples, rather
than trying to get a little work done on everyone's engine. In earlier Colleges, we built a lot of customer engines, but this
has given way to demonstrations. Additionally, Michael's shop is not set up for complete engine overhaul, so for this reason
as well demonstrations are the best way to go.
Brandon Tucker, the first 601/Corvair pilot west of the Rockies, now has more than 100 hours on his bird, and plans
to fly in for the College. Rick Lindstrom's ZenVair 601XL will be on hand, and we have three other Corvair powered aircraft tentatively
scheduled to fly in. I've already contacted two builders about bringing partially completed installations on trailers as
good visual aids. Although the 601 builders will be out in force, it's important that everyone understand that all
builders are welcome and expected. We're looking forward to a very large turn out, and we've prepared accordingly.
On the social side, if magazine coverage lately has been boring you with endless talk of user fees, fuel prices and
new personal jets, come experience the antidote: Colleges are pure fun and entertainment. Come enjoy the weekend learning
in the presence of some real characters who appreciate the exact same things you do about real grassroots aviation. Many of
the friendliest people from the world of Corvair flying will be there: Mark from Falcon, Woody Harris and Steve Glover
will be my front line assistants. But there will be many, many names you've heard before there and now's your chance to
get to know them and make some close friends among people who share your same values. Forget all the things that ail
general aviation and invest your time in finding your place in something that's really right: Corvairs.
The above photo shows sheetmetal master Jim Weseman test fitting a cowl he's just made to our 601. Jim and his
lovely wife Rhonda produce the Baffle Kits that we sell. We'll soon be offering complete
601 Cowling Sheetmetal Sets to complement our two-piece Nosebowls. These sets will have all their
forming and riveting done, and will need only light trimming on the edges to mate with your personal 601. The sets
include the carb heat box and air filter assembly. The Wesemans are
producing a run of five sets right now to get a handle on time and materials. When this is complete in a week or two,
we'll have an announcement with pricing information. Even though our aircraft is a taildragger, the Cowling Kits are
clearanced for nosegear. The vertical tube in the photo is a 601 nosegear.
We're closing in on the KR Gathering Sept. 21-22 in Mount Vernon, Ill. Gary Coppen and I will be coming up from Florida. I'll have samples of all the
new Gold Oil System parts on hand, along with DVDs, Manuals, etc.
We're looking forward to seeing six Corvair powered KRs in the same spot. The KR Gathering is one of the best
organized club events in America. It has a reputation as a good social event with a lot of camaraderie. Corvair
builder Larry Hudson plans on driving in with several core engines. Larry's engines frequently are seen for sale on
eBay. I've known him for many years and he's a good guy. His cores are a good deal for anyone who doesn't have the time
to hunt one down themselves. The event carries my strongest recommendation for KR/Vair fans, present and future. You can
find more details at http://www.krgathering.org/
There was some Internet discussion this past week on the pros and cons of painting engine cases. It's really a matter of
cosmetics and aesthetics. Years ago, we began painting engine cases because they looked better in photos promoting the
engine. Many other engines on the market appear as a uniform dull gray, and I thought it appropriate that Corvairs, as
a reflection of individual builder input, could be painted any color people desired. Occasionally some of the best cases
we built engines out of were perfectly clean, but had tea colored stains from their years in automobiles. Painting fixed this
without applying harsh methods to remove it. Duplicolor 500F engine paint straight from Discount/Advance Auto for $4 a can
is simply amazing stuff. It can be sprayed on a slightly oily case without even fisheyeing. It needs no primer, I've never
seen it flake off, and it has no appreciable insulating characteristics on the case. We paint our welding jigs with this also,
and even when the part in the jig glows cherry red, the paint will only burn 1/4" back. A lot of guys are worried that painting the
case or cylinders will have some type of effect on the engine's cooling. Years ago there were immense discussions on the
Internet deriding anyone who would paint cylinders, despite the fact that Lycomings and Continentals are all painted.
This year at Oshkosh, Continental displayed their next generation O-200. One of the main differences was having 75% of the
cooling fins removed from the cylinders as a weight savings. Perhaps those who came down against painting cylinders might
reconsider. The point was brought up about paint on the case under fasteners. This is actually a valid concern on a Lycoming's
or Continental's short cylinder based studs. A thick coat of paint that erodes away under a nut on these engines will leave the
fastener improperly torqued. The Corvair, with its long head studs that stretch 30/1000" when torqued, and its case studs
many times longer than a Lycoming's, is immune to this issue.
The Corvair has an abundance of cooling. Most of the engine's cooling is done by the heads and the oil cooler.
The other components of the engine are really cosmetic issues that should cause no one to derail from making progress.
Mechanical Master Switch
I recently came across a very light weight mechanical master switch. The handle on this unit is locked in place in the on
position, but is removable like a key in the off position. Our own 601 has an electrical master switch, but no key switch.
For builders interested in the simplest systems, this mechanical master could be used to cut off the main battery power and
disable the starter. Removing the key would prevent anybody from starting the plane. The ignition could be wired independently
with an on/off/on switch. For security, you could always have a key lock on your canopy. We flew the Skycoupe for years
with a mechanical master switch, but it had none of the qualities of this one. For those in pursuit of the ultimate in
simplicity, it's worth checking this out at your local auto parts store. It's MotorMite ConductTite Part No. 85988 and costs less than $10.
My personal favorite choice for carburetion on any Corvair powered plane is a Marvel Schebler MA3-SPA. It is rugged and
reliable. If properly overhauled, it is trouble free for a long time and never requires seasonal rejetting. Its very powerful
accelerator pump negates the need for a primer. While some flat slide carbs like Ellisons and Aero-Carbs can exhibit
side to side mixture distribution issues when mounted on a Corvair, aircraft style carburetors like the MA3-SPA and the
Stromberg are immune to this. Used MA3s can be a little hard to come by. However, over the past few years I've worked
with Russ Romey of D&G in Niles, Mich., (269) 684-4440, to provide overhauled MA3s with no core required for $900. Russ has
recently worked up another MA3 based on a slightly different body that we're currently testing on the dyno. We'll have
the results in a few weeks. While $900 isn't cheap, these carbs are the last word in reliability. On the other end of the
price spectrum are several good carbs at a fraction of this cost. In a future update, we'll go over them.
FlyCorvair.com Searchable Database
A lot of people ask us for some particular small piece of information on our Web site. The easy way to find anything
on the site is to go to the bottom of the Home Page and use the Google search engine that ZenVair
builder Fred Roser set up for us. Thank you again, Fred.
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
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