We've just returned from a great trip to Brodhead and Oshkosh. Here's a sample of the photos and the
stories. A good time was had by all, and we extend our thanks to the many people who made this year's
adventure something special.
Above is a photo that Grace Ellen took while flying in the front seat of Tom Brown's
Corvair powered Pietenpol. With 1,200 hours on the engine, Tom Brown, Unity, Wisc., stands among the most experienced Corvair
aviators. His engine has been flying for 20 years on oil changes and basic tune ups. This photo was taken over the
airport at Brodhead, Wisc., the annual gathering point for Pietenpols.
Flying alongside Grace and Tom was Bill Knight of Brodhead, Wisc. Bill owns and flys The Last
Original, Bernie Pietenpol's final airplane, which is of course Corvair powered. It has more than 700 hours on
Here's a shot of Brodhead from the air. 2005 was a good year for the Pietenpol reunion, with 20 Pietenpols on hand.
Larry Hudson of Indiana brought his 7/8 scale Fokker D-8 fuselage with a Corvair mounted on the front for display, above.
It attracted a great deal of interest.
The long distance record for travel by a Corvair builder goes to Arthur Johnson of Australia, above right with Grace Ellen.
Corvair aircraft builders often are swayed to drive one also. Here, Tom Porter of Illinois shows off his late model convertible.
Tom has two Corvair powered airplane projects in the works. He already has one engine running, and another one going together.
Tom shows his land based Corvair engine to Corvair/Pietenpol builders Ralph and June Carlson of Eau Claire, Wisc. Ralph has special
status with us because he purchased the first Corvair Conversion Manual I ever sold.
Grace Ellen took the above photo of Bob Whittier. For those who do not know him, Bob is the greatest aviation technical
writer of all time. He has had more than 2,500 articles published in the past 50 years. What makes this truly astounding
is that he's been deaf since childhood, and thus learned everything he knows by reading and observing. To spend an hour in
his company is a humbling experience. His technical knowledge of aircraft detail design and the history of aircraft
manufacturing techniques is simply unparalleled.
Above, Gus and I position the 601 inside the Zenith tent with the help of Sebastien Heintz. The
Zenith display area at Oshkosh included a tent that was the size of a small hangar. Our aircraft was inside, which
allowed builders to examine the engine installation with most of the cowling removed, sheltered from the
sunniest weather Oshkosh has seen in many years. This was the fourth major airshow where our 601 has been displayed
alongside the Zenith factory products. It's a relationship that has worked out very well for us and we're thankful to
the Heintz family for welcoming us.
Here's the first forum, 8:30 a.m. Monday, opening day at AirVenture Oshkosh 2005. The EAA keeps tabs on how many people
stay for the full length of your forum, and adjusts the following year's schedule accordingly. We had standing room
only at a number of forums last year, and thus were granted seven forums this year. More than 76 people came to our
first forum, which was in the 40-seat Engine Workshop. This, and a strong showing at the other six forums, demonstrate
the great popularity of the Corvair as a result of our hard work with it, as well as its broad appeal to aviators of all
experience levels and financial backgrounds. Its across the board appeal brings all types of creative people together.
The interesting people in the land of Corvairs go a long way toward keeping us energized in our work.
Several of the forums I gave were in the large pavilions. The first PowerPoint presentation of my life was given
at one of these, above. I had long thought about doing this because we have a large collection of interesting, informative and
humorous photos taken over the years. It went really well and we'll be organizing more of these. We did very well with
our audience, considering Burt Rutan had the same time slot and was speaking 50 feet away. One of our customers made
a point of telling Grace Ellen afterward that he "came to Oshkosh to see a famous person, and Burt Rutan happened to
be in the pavilion next door."
A view of our plane inside the Zenith tent, above. ShelterLogic is the company that donated the tent for display purposes.
The crowd of people examining the technical details of the engine installation and instrumentation was about this deep
eight hours a day, every day. We sold enough new Conversion Manuals to necessitate a trip to
Oshkosh's late night Kinko's for more. We had updated our engine installation with the addition of our new stainless
steel intake and exhaust systems, and a fresh sheetmetal design for the cowling behind the
Nosebowl. To bring something new, we opted for our race engine. We built this engine specifically for the 2005
Sun 100 race, which unfortunately was canceled for the first time in 22 years by the people who run Sun 'N Fun.
The engine is a 190cid 3,100cc conversion with 10.5:1 compression, large valves, and 1.5" flange exhaust. The
propeller we used was a Sensenich 64x47 with a lot of blade area. We did not have a chance on the way up to see
what the airplane would really do because we flew under a 5,000 foot ceiling all the way and were in constant
turbulent air. The engine ran fine, and we'll have more performance details later. Keep in mind that we built it only
as an extreme example to show what Corvairs can do. We're not recommending this as an everyday engine.
One of the forums I covered with co-host John Moyle was the Contact! magazine Auto Engine Review. It was well
attended by fans of all types of alternative engines. I moderated a lively discussion, and shared my experience on
alternative engines, which runs from Pietenpols to Jim Rahm's 385mph V-8 powered Lancair IVP. Many people in the crowd
were impressed to learn that I have looked down on a 737 in cruise flight from an automotive powered homebuilt. However, most of
the discussion was centered on practical experience rather than the high end stuff.
On Sunday, we got our first chance to get out of the booth for a decent length of time, and we visited Pioneer Airport. As many of you
know, Bernie Pietenpol's personal hangar and aircraft were transported from Cherry Grove, Minn., to Oshkosh many years ago.
Above is a photo of Bernie's personal Corvair powered Air Camper in his hangar. If you have Pietenpol plans for the
Corvair version, this is the aircraft from which the plans and photos were taken. It reportedly weighs only 615 pounds.
The propeller is a Sensenich 66x30. This was known to be a very good flying and fast Pietenpol.
At Pioneer Airport, there's a perfect example of one of my favorite airplanes: The Curtiss Robin. The Robin is best
known as the plane that Wrong Way Corrigan flew to Ireland. With less fanfare, they were workhorses in the 1930s. If
you're wondering how big our Tri-Motor project is, it's essentially the same dimensions as a Robin, but with a
slightly wider fuselage. The Robin in the photo here has an air cooled OX-5 on it. The prop is a 96x69 Sensenich.
Redline on an OX-5 is 1,400rpm.
At the end of the show, Grace Ellen and I flew back to Florida commercial from Milwaukee. Gus took the 601 to Pontiac
to visit his parents. His friend Matt Lahti is in the Red Wing Cessna 140 behind him, above. They flew across Lake
Here's a shot of the ZenVair 601 in flight taken by Matt out the window of his 140. You can see the lake in the distance.
Gus called to say the two hour flight was uneventful. The commercial flight home gave us a chance to reflect on a very
busy week. The preparations had been stressful, but the time at the show was enjoyable, spent with friends old and new.
We had a great time, and hopefully we'll see you there in your flying Corvair powered airplane next year.
Oshkosh 2010 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2009 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2008 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2007 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2006 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2004 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2003 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2000 With FlyCorvair.com