Sun 'N Fun 2008
2008 marked my 20th consecutive year at Sun 'N Fun. In the world of alternative flight engines, only Steve Bennett of Great Plains Aircraft has been there
longer. Having this consistent track record of serving builders' needs has built our network of friends from coast to coast and around the world. People who
know this track record understand the enthusiasm of our fans in the Corvair Movement.
The above photo shows our complete firewall forward package displayed in the Zenith Aircraft Company booth at Sun 'N Fun 2008. This is the fifth year in a
row that our work has been part of the Zenith display at Sun 'N Fun. Zenith is a well respected and conservative company. We earned their support by being respected
in our field for taking care of our builders. The above Corvair conversion is Gig Giacona's 601 engine featuring all of our Gold System Components, Falcon heads and
our Electronic/Points Ignition, now flight proven on more than a dozen different aircraft. Thank you to builder Dan Dempsey for sending us the photo above.
Longtime Corvair supporter and owner of the Turbo Skycoupe, Gary Coppen, was on hand at Sun 'N Fun 2008. I met Gary at a Dragonfly
Fly In nine years ago. He attended my forum on Corvair engines at the Tandem Wing Fly In that day so many years ago and has been sold on Corvairs ever since.
Contact! magazine, published by Pat Panzera, again organized and hosted the engine forums at Sun 'N Fun 2008.
At this year's event, I gave four forums that were well
attended by lots of new people and old friends. I gave my first forum of the 2008 show at noon Wednesday. A crew of us had worked through the night at our North Florida hangar
in preparation for the show. I caught a one-hour nap, did some light packing, made coffee, then began the drive to Sun 'N Fun at sunrise. Unexpected
traffic left me 1 mile from the forum tents with 10 minutes to go. I parked the truck and jogged the last mile. It was an unusual start to my 20th consecutive
year at Sun 'N Fun.
A few days before Sun 'N Fun, Kevin came up to give us a hand readying the display engine for the show. Above, he's prepping our Fifth Bearing engine for
its run on our Dynomometer.
We have run more than 50 engins on this Dyno. The run stand we had before the dyno broke in and test ran about 75
more. Research, testing and years worth of study and learning make our recommendations valid, and make Kevin The Undisputed Master of Corvair Aircraft Engine Building.
Anyone interested in the finest assembled and test run Corvair engine can contact Kevin directly through his www.VairForce.com Web site. While you could always
find someone to build it cheaper, I assume no rational person would select a heart surgeon on the basis of who was cheapest.
A week prior to the show, Mark Petniunas of Falcon Automotive drove down from Wisconsin to our North Florida hangar to give us a hand assembling
and test running our Fifth Bearing test engine. I told him on the phone I thought it was a day or two away from running. Late into the sixth 18-hour day
of his visit, Mark said: "I'm going to have to fire my travel agent. I have yet to see one girl in one bikini on one sunny sandy beach. This Florida vacation is nothing like the
Above, Mark on the right confers with Kevin right after the first start up of our Fifth Bearing Motor.
Above is our Fifth Bearing Engine at power on the Dyno. The natural aluminum CNC billet Bearing Plate is between the case, Ring
Gear and the Gold Prop Hub. It is intended to address both thrust and bending issues.
I came up with this design myself, but the CAD modeling was done by our aeronautical engineer Spencer Gould, below at right. Mark Petz's firsthand knowledge of dozens of
different engines, and his 25 years as a Spartan educated A&P, brought a lot of practical input that improved the design far beyond what I could have done myself.
Sharp eyes will notice that this utilizes All Our Regular Production Components. The added 1" round spacer in front of the
CNC Starter Bracket shows the length of the engine. The engine has a Gold Billet CNC Pan on it.
The week before Sun 'N Fun '08, we got surprise notice from Wittman/Vair builder Tom Cummings of Lousiana that he'd be in Jacksonville for an aviation event. Tom is a graduate of
Corvair College #1. Grace invited him down to our Doge Palace place, and we enjoyed a nice dinner among friends. Grace and I
conduct no retail storefront business from our residential hangar. If Tom was once a customer, he's long since become a friend. I've stayed at his house in
Louisiana on the way to and from other Corvair events across this great land. When Tom was here, I realized that every person who graduated from Corvair College
#1 has visited our homes. Many of our earliest customers have grown to be close friends, and Grace and I try and treat everyone in such a way that we'll
always enjoy this type of close friendships. Grace is at left and our aeronautical engineer Spencer Gould sits at right with Tom in the middle in the photo above.
Above is Dan Weseman's Cleanex engine sporting his independently designed fifth bearing setup. I shot this the week before Sun 'N Fun on a visit to
Dan and Rachel's hangar. Dan's bearing is designed to absorb bending loads. He now has several flight hours on it. The centerpiece is a casting that takes
the place of the Corvair's end cover. It's painted orange in this photo, but you can clearly see the -6 oil line feeding it. It makes the engine a half inch
longer. Note that he still uses our Low Profile Front Starter and Billet Brackets. He cleverly shortened his
Gold Hub slightly to put the propeller right back in the same spot. Dan's design is intended to be retrofitable to existing engines. He did not
disassemble his own engine to install it. Dan and his dad Jim worked out the design over the past several months without outside input or influence. They're an
intensely practical team, and I cannot imagine anyone else coming up with a more simple or practical design.
Although many builders work their Corvair engines hard, there is no question in my mind that Dan's 3,100cc engine sees the most severe duty of any engine
flying. After extensive flight testing, Dan is considering making these setups available to builders.
While at Sun 'N Fun this year, I spent a lot of time with Roy Szarfinski, who has a third entirely original and different, sophisticated fifth bearing setup
for the Corvair. He had two display engines on hand at the show. Roy is good company, and I had enough fun with him that I have to confess to forgetting to take
any photographs. What's hard to explain to many people is that the most important element of any mechanical design is the character and integrity of the
designer presenting it. Roy and Dan are both first class guys, and I would trust the data they present from their tests as valid. Anybody can fly something
around the pattern a few times and claim that it's airworthy and flight proven. Real people of character understand that flight proven is a much more
The week before Sun 'N Fun 2008, Dave and Fran Stroud, who hail from Canada, passed through North Florida. They traditionally host a very lively party
for Corvair people at Sun 'N Fun. We rounded up at Dan's Cleanex hangar after dinner. In the photo above, Dan's middle son, with a little coaching from us,
holds up five fingers for the fifth bearing on Daddy's plane. Although the weeks preparing for Sun 'N Fun are strenuous, they also hold a certain magic as old
friends and new converge for the event, show up to help out, and call in to say they'll be there.
Twenty years ago at Sun 'N Fun I literally did not know
anybody. Within a year, I understood that having a cast of characters to pursue the fun with would be a much better adventure. While the publicity surrounding
general aviation will always drift toward glitzy commercial products, I was free to shape the Corvair Movement as a gathering of creative individuals. While
it's seen a small minority of people (one percenters like the ones at Bike Week, only different) who were somewhat antisocial in their pursuit of an inexpensive
powerplant, the overwhelming majority of people involved in the Corvair Movement are social individuals who enjoy the company of like-minded builders.
Dave and Fran's traditional parties are a living thread in the movement.
While I was at Sun 'N Fun, Grace stayed home to mail out an enormous amount of orders from the booty we collected before the show. Two items she cleared
of backorders to February 2008 were Oil Pans and Oil Pan Installation Kits. In the past, builders had
patiently waited for the hand produced Pans with CNC rails. With the new CNC production all the way through, and the stock we now have on the shelf, we will
not have backorders on Pans again. Grace will get out the March orders shortly. While I'm sure detractors of my work with the Corvair, motivated
by whatever reason, will trot out the backordered parts issue for many years to come, the reality is that we've made some stunning progress on changing
this. Those who will choose the Corvair and Fly IT will enjoy the fruit of these efforts. Those who criticize will do what they've
always done: Nothing.
The boxes of oil pump pickups in the photo above are brand new pickups we make into our Deep Sump models. The only part from the original Corvair oil pickup
that we need sent in from builders as cores is the short piece of tubing shown at right in front above. The prototype for our Mark II Flightweight Black Hub
is on the left.
The day after Sun 'N Fun we were back at our North Florida Hangar conducting more tests and unloading and unpacking the trailer after the show.
Here, Kevin, myself and Mark on the other side use all hands on a run of The Fifth Bearing Engine.
Above is the balancer on The Fifth Bearing Motor. The timing scale on the back of the Corvair engine shows 0 to 16 degrees. The length of this scale can
be transferred to the balancer to show 16 and 32 degrees BTDC (before top dead center).
As stated in my Conversion Manual, the proper way to set the timing on your Corvair engine is to know what the full advance is at
full static rpm. I have long told people to tie down the tail of their airplane and check the timing advance at its full static rpm. Installing the distributor
and not setting the timing this way is foolish. All aircraft engines, including those with magnetos, have their timing checked at maximum advance.
The difference is that aircraft with magnetos have their timing set statically at full advance, and then their impulse couplings retard their timing. The
Corvair engine can have its timing set statically at idle for an idle setting, but it must be run to its full static rpm to have the timing checked because
distributor ignition has mechanical advance, not retard.
If you're a builder and you didn't know this, that's perfectly okay. That's why we issue instructions. If you hold an A&P license and you don't know this,
you can stick the powerplant section of your license in an envelope and mail it back to Oklahoma City. This is a good example of how I've intentionally patterned
the Corvair engine to philosophically duplicate the proven aspects of Lycomings and Continentals.
Dyno calibration after Sun 'N Fun.
Above, you'll notice Kevin and I are wearing jackets. We're waiting just before sunset for a rare weather phenomena to occur: a perfect standard day of
59F 50% relative humidity and a pressure of 29.92. Any time you read a dyno report and it says "corrected horsepower," they're making a calculation, sometimes
accurate and sometimes not, to adjust for their test conditions not being at standard atmosphere. Because we live in Florida near sea level, there have
actually been three occasions in the past four years when these conditions were met during daylight hours on testing days.
relies on the super accurate optical Prop Tach for the rpm measurement and it will only reliably pick this up in daylight. A few minutes after the photo
above was taken, we made a dyno run which required no correction. By testing the same engine later in the week, we reconfirmed our correction factors for this
particular dynomometer and we retained accurate measurements all year round.
As the post Sun 'N Fun work wound down, we stopped for a photo op with Grace's Taylorcraft. From left above: Dan Weseman, Mark Petniunas of Falcon, Kevin,
myself, Grace and Scoob E were on hand for the last hour of tests. Although it marked the end of another Sun 'N Fun as it became a collection of good memories,
friends and fun, the talk already centered on what we were going to do this summer, plans for Oshkosh and good times ahead.
The pace of the Corvair Movement affords little time for reflection. And certainly the best of times are ahead of us. If you are new to the land of Corvairs,
there's time to express creativity, make your mark, enjoy new friends and join the adventure.
Sun 'N Fun also marked another landmark point: Both Nosebowls and 601 Motor Mounts went from
being on order to being in stock.
On an Internet Discussion Group, one of our builders commented it took many months to get a Motor Mount from us last year. In reply, I thanked the people who
waited, and I understand that it might be a little frustrating to know now that anyone who ordered a Motor Mount today would have it three days from now.
This is progress. The same is true now of our Corvair Nosebowls. It took many many months of hard work and investment to get here
while still maintaining our rigorous testing, new product development, free Colleges, air shows and forums schedule. We're very close to having
Every Part In Our Catalog on hand at all times.
Keep in mind that this is not the rule in experimental aviation. If you wanted to buy an RV-8 kit today, there's a waiting list for it. Popular products will
always be in demand and it's difficult to meet demand and grow at the same time. Unproven or unpopular products are usually readily available from people
who regard homebuilders as sales opportunities rather than friends.
Sun 'N Fun 2012 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2011 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2010 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2009 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2007 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2006 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2005 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2004 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2003 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2002 With FlyCorvair.com