Years ago when Grace Ellen first built the www.FlyCorvair.com Web site, we put a section here called "Who Is William Wynne." I thought if people were taking my advice about building airplanes, they'd probably want to know something about me.
This year marks my 12th year in the Corvair aircraft engine business. Although today I have a large shop, along with a crew of close friends who work with me every day, I'm still very much the same person the day I was when I started this. We've had a decade's worth of new experience, information, flight testing and fun. But the mission is the same as it was on Day One: Provide a reliable, affordable engine for homebuilt aircraft. At the very core of this is my belief that aviation is not a spectator sport. I'm personally in aviation to do it myself. I have no interest in sitting on the sidelines while other people have all the fun. Chances are, you feel the exact same way. There are and always will be plenty of products for rich guys in aviation. While some people will tell you that it has to be this way, let me share with you the real reason why there's a wealth of products for the wealthy: It's easy to make an expensive product and charge an arm and a leg for it. It's much more difficult to come up with a product that's reliable, simple and inexpensive.
To succeed in this industry, I brought to it a unique strategy that in the beginning, few critics understood. I was going to develop the Corvair as a plans built engine. This approach meant that anybody who could afford the Conversion Manual was an eligible player. Beyond the Conversion Manual, initially we offered only a few simple components, like Prop Hubs, and Motor Mounts.
From a business perspective, the company began to generate a trickle of revenue right from the beginning. The same year we got started, at least half a dozen other new engine companies emerged, selling complete firewall forward packages based on liquid cooled, Japanese motors. While I quietly entered the market, they started with a big splash and a lot of overhead. While I slowly built up the business and made new friends every day, they went bankrupt waiting for their products to gain acceptance.
I had a far wider audience because I was willing to teach people how to build an engine. The original motto of the EAA was "Learn, Build and Fly." There are plenty of here-today-gone-tomorrow engine businesses that mistakenly think the motto is: "Choose, Finance and Operate." Our steady success is because I've never forgotten the original motto, and the fundamental desire of builders to create and fly their own machine. Today, six of us work in the hangar, we offer dozens of products from the simplest components to complete engines (all of which are detailed at the Online Products Page), and we teach Corvair Colleges and Seminars from coast to coast.
Over the years, I've found our most effective form of advertising is our customers, who say nice things about us when we're not there. A decade spent teaching and sharing with builders, and consistently showing people I'm more interested in their dreams than in the thickness of their wallet, has brought us a very large and devoted fan club. I'm thankful for every one of them. Many of our strongest supporters are people born with a passion to fly, but grounded by the financial commitments of a responsible life. These same people, when shown that the Corvair will allow them to experience the dreams they once thought they had to let go of, become the most vocal of supporters.
In all businesses, there's some people you can't reach. Out of the thousands of customers we've had over the years, there's a handful who fail to understand that we cannot simultaneously offer the most affordable engine in aviation and maintain the telephone staff of Aircraft Spruce with the polo shirt image of Lycoming. For the vast majority who understand, we have provided a true opportunity to learn, build and fly in the company of like-minded, self reliant individuals.
When I first entered aviation, I believed I was entering a fraternity of these self reliant, creative people who discarded the fears of the pedestrian consumer world. I was initially dismayed to find out that not all people in aviation are of this mindset. But that's OK. In time, I found that plenty of people were self reliant, and by choice, I focus my time and energy on them..
Today when we go to a large airshow, we'll often see dozens of people we know. They're easy to remember - they're some of the most colorful people in aviation - and we've spent time with many of them at Corvair Colleges or during visits to our hangar. And of course, we share with them the common bond of being in aviation as a participant, craftsman and creator. If this sounds like you, don't be surprised. The need to build and fly your own machine is as old as the Wright brothers, and will always be the core of aviation.
Welcome to your home in aviation.
In the photo above, get a good look at my crew of experts. They are a diversely talented group of creative, energetic people who, with me, define the state of the art in Corvair engines: From left, Grace Ellen, my better half. A skilled aerobatic taildragger pilot. She is the nerve center of all our business communications, built our Web site, and does all our shipping and receiving. Often seen at airshows wearing a T-shirt with our infamous slogan: "My Ex Wanted Me To Quit Flying." Myself, your humble narrator. Kevin Fahy, expert on all facets of the Corvair automobile. Prolific aircraft builder: Two Sport Aviation cover airplanes under his belt. The Mangler. Showing a rare glimpse of his sensitive side, holding Whobiscat. Whobis' motto: “Let no critter go un-killed.” Steve Upson, whom I profiled as a Mechanical Role Model in a 2003 EAA Experimenter article. A&P since the Nixon administration. Lifelong surfer, chain smoker. Consistently displays astounding attention to detail, be it with aircraft engines or starting political arguments. Reknowned for his skill in Florida aviation circles. Gus Warren, test pilot extraordinaire. Son of the legendary Clare Warren. He’s fearlessly done the first flying on many of my Corvair powered creations. Age: 33, and has not missed an AirVenture Oshkosh in 33 years. Dave "The Bear" Vargesko: mechanic, millwright, pilot. Air Force veteran and Piper craftsman from both Lakeland and Vero Beach factories. After working in a nuclear powerplant, he evolved into a half-man half-bear creature, capable of killing a salmon with his bear hands. Can fabricate a Piper door handle mechanism using household items and no plans. Arch Nemesis: Rust. Drinks Ospho. Favorite color: Olive Drab. Sorry ladies, he’s taken.
While we do have a lot of fun in the hangar, we truly take our aircraft building very seriously. We invite everyone to visit our facility for a thorough introduction to the most affordable engine in aviation and a good dose of contagious fun and enthusiasm.
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