The Corvair Powered Zenair 601XL
This is what it's all about. Here's the view out the canopy of our Zenair 601XL on its last leg of
its extended tour of Oshkosh and the north. The aircraft now has 70 hours on it. It cruises at 126-130mph at
2,800rpm on 5 gallons per hour. Many of the legs of the trip were flown at gross weight above 9500'. The
airplane efficiently climbed up to these altitudes and smoothly flew the whole trip while using only 1 1/2
quarts of oil total. Not bad for an engine that cost less than $4,000 to build.
The view above is Lake George in northeastern Florida. This is about
30 minutes from touchdown at our home airport. The aircraft had flown to Michigan a week before Oshkosh, then
on to the Pietenpol Gathering at Brodhead, Wisc. It arrived in Oshkosh two days before the beginning of
AirVenture, and was one of the last aircraft to leave Wittman Field. Our friend Gus Warren then took the airplane
to his home airport of Pontiac, Mich., for a visit with his family and Corvair builders in the area. His
return to Florida was postponed by Hurricane Charley. He flew back the day we had our power restored.
(You can't open the hangar door without electricity.) The photo above shows a peaceful view on the end of
a 3,000 mile trip. Our Corvair engine installation performed flawlessly. As the following photos show, the
trip was a lot of fun. As you look through the photos, picture yourself in your own aircraft, having your
own similar adventure. Helping you achieve this is our calling in aviation.
The 601 at sunset at Brodhead, Wisc., above. For those of you who have yet to visit, Brodhead is one of the
all time great airports in America. It's on the Wisconsin/Illinois border, southwest of Oshkosh. One of the
many events held here each year is the Pietenpol fly in. This event is the antidote for everything trying about
the rest of aviation. It is held and attended by the friendliest people in flying. Many antique airplane people
call this home, or use it as a staging point for Oshkosh. The day we flew our Pietenpol here in 2000 stands
out as my personal favorite day in aviation. Since so many of our customers are Pietenpol builders, I'm invited
to be a guest speaker here every year. It's an honor and a compliment that I work hard to live up to.
There were four Corvair powered aircraft at the 2004 event: Our 601, Del Magsam's "Outlaw" Sonex, Tom Brown's
1,100+ hour Pietenpol, and Bill and Sue Knight's Last Original, Bernie Pietenpol's personal Air Camper.
We have some good photos of these aircraft and people on print film, which we'll add to this site.
Additionally, we saw a number of friends from the world of Corvairs like the Hudson family from Indiana, Jim Ballew
of Oklahoma, Skip Gadd of Georgia, Jay Hoppenworth of Iowa, and the six Big Piet builders from Georgia. My
seminar was Saturday afternoon. It had the right setting and level of coffee to be an hour-and-a-half well spent
with about 100 people in attendance.
Sunday, getting ready to leave Brodhead. Our gang, from left above: Dave "The Bear" Vargesko, myself, Grace
Ellen, our friend, the noted aircraft designer Ed Fisher, and Gus Warren. Gus and Grace got back in the airplane
to fly it to Oshkosh. Dave, Ed and I were on the ground towing a trailer from Ed's place in Ohio. It contained
The Zipster, Ed's latest aircraft design.
A photo of the Brodhead Airport departure, above, taken by Grace Sunday afternoon. The day before, the field
was full of aircraft, most of them Pietenpols and antiques. Anyone who's attended Brodhead will recognize the
cantine and clubhouse off the main parking area.
A photo of Grace, above, having a good time in the 601 on the leg to Oshkosh. I picked out this photo for
Grace's smile and only later noticed the road view in the back of the canopy. I'm sure it's mostly an illlusion
and it's not really that steep of an attitude.
A big moment in the life of any experimental airplane: Arrival at Oshkosh. Gus is throttling back in the pattern.
The airport, city and Lake Winnebago can be seen in the distance in the photo above.
While Oshkosh is a lot of fun, it's a very important opportunity to champion the cause of Corvair powered
flight on many levels. In the photo above, I'm explaining the details of our ignition system to the Vice President and
Chief Technician of Falcon Insurance. Having the aircraft in the Zenith Aircraft Booth and being able to discuss
every detail of the installation goes a long way toward securing affordable insurance for Corvair powered
aircraft. This is a good example of my tireless behind the scenes work to bring you an affordable engine for
the airplane of your dreams.
Above is a good example of the crowds drawn to the ZenVair 601. If you look closely, buried in the middle of
this group is our plane. Many days, we removed the cowling and showed the engine to hundreds of interested
builders. I cannot thank the Heintz family enough for their hospitality in hosting our aircraft in their booth
all week. While they were very busy all week, we did fit in some time to catch up with them on everything
since we saw them at Sun 'N Fun.
Here's Ed Fisher's new design, above. The Zipster is a steel tube and rag, aluminum wing structure
aircraft which is an ultralight legal 254 pounds. Dave and I drove from Florida to eastern Ohio to get Ed
and the trailer with The Zipster in it. When we got to Oshkosh, we carefully assembled the airplane. Ed comes
from an old school EAA family, and he's been designing light aircraft since 1980. Among others, he designed
the Zippy Sport, Micro Mong and the Skylite. The Skylite won Grand Champion Ultralight honors when it debuted
at Oshkosh in 1991. Besides being friends with Ed, my ulterior motive in helping him see The Zipster project
through is the fact that Ed has two Corvair powered two-seat aircraft in the works. His Zippy II is a side-by-side
cabin monoplane, and he has that airframe about 75% complete. He also has a two seat biplane design on the
drawing board which I intend to build. Not only is Ed one of the greatest living designers of light aircraft,
he's also an awful lot of fun to hang out with.
A very big moment at Oshkosh for Alex Sloan. Alex, who is a prolific experimental aircraft builder and is
currently working on a Corvair powered Pietenpol, won the EAA's highest award for service to homebuilders:
The Tony Bingelis Award. This recognized Alex's decades of service to fellow homebuilders. Years ago, while
recovering from my accident, I received a very personal letter from a man who also had survived a horrific plane crash
and returned to homebuilding. It hit close to home, and carried a lot of weight. It was from a man I was yet
to meet named Alex Sloan. When he received the award, there were hundreds of homebuilders in the pavilion.
After the ceremony, many of us waited to congratulate him personally. I found out that most of the people waiting
had at one time been touched by Alex's generosity of spirit just as I had been. In the photo above, from left, are
Pietenpol builder and pilot Michael Cuy, aviation luminary Doc Mosher, Grace Ellen, Alex Sloan and myself.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have campground life. Above, our test pilot Gus Warren gives a picture
of why the very end of 39th Street in Camp Schoeller was reserved for hard core campers. Gus, Dave, Matt and Ed
had a very good time in spite of the weather.
I gave five forums at AirVenture this year. It was standing room only for the three in the Engine Workshop,
and we had a very good turnout for the two in the large pavilions as well. A special thanks to Charlie Becker at
EAA Headquarters, who manages the Forums area every year. Charlie is the director of information services for
The largest of the many products we delivered in person at Oshkosh was Pete Brautigam's Corvair engine for
his KR2S. In the above photo, Pete and I transfer the engine from our truck to his. Pete's KR is almost done,
and he had us build the engine for him. Notable about the engine is that it's a reverse rotation engine, so it
turns the propeller the same way as a Continental or Lycoming.
A big moment for Ed Fisher. At the closing awards ceremony, we applauded as dozens of builders received
awards for their efforts. On the top row were the Grand Champion trophies. One of the last to be presented
was the Charles Lindbergh award for Grand Champion Ultralight, and Ed won it for The Zipster. Paul Poberezny
personally presented it to Ed. On a hunch that it was going to be a good night for Ed, his girlfriend Val
traveled all the way from Ohio to be there. She and Ed are pictured with the rest of the gang, above. Ed's a
very modest guy, and took it with a certain embarassment that the rest of us referred to him as "Mr. Grand
Champion" at breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next two days.
We'll continue to update the 601 Pages of www.FlyCorvair.com as we travel to more events.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call or write.