We've just returned from 14 days on the road. We had a great time at Brodhead, the Falcon Open House and Oshkosh. In picking out these photos, I noticed that
they almost all contain people. While I love homebuilts as much as any other builder, the best part of these events are the people. If you're new to the Corvair
movement, realize that there's a place for you in every one of these photos. In person, the Corvair movement is a very friendly collection of creative people.
They certainly don't all look or think alike, but the common ground of being the type of self reliant person who would build their own aircraft and engine provides
the common theme that underlies all of these events.
Above, first stop: Brodhead, Wisconsin. For Grace and I, it was a leisurely 26-hour drive straight through in a 1-ton pickup without a/c or radio. If you're
wondering how fun these events are, realize that Grace and I were glad to go even if the amount of stuff required taking the old white truck. The Pietenpol above
belongs to Gary Bell, pictured with his son Shad. They flew it in from Ohio. We've seen Gary many times before and he's a veteran of Corvair College #7. The plane
is exceptionally sharp looking. With the cowling removed, the Corvair installation looked something like a Bernie Pietenpol blower fan engine. Closer examination
showed that Gary had very cleverly hidden one of our electric start setups under the stock GM fan shroud. He left out the fan and worked the cooling system just
as we do on all modern Corvair powered installations. The installation is a tribute to Gary's craftsmanship. It runs great, and they flew many demo flights at Brodhead.
Pietenpol/Corvair builder Patrick Hoyt of Minnesota, who's attended many Corvair events the past few years, points to the title block of the drawing printed
on this young man's shirt. The masking tape says "That's my grandfather," on Jason Hoopman's shirt. Orin Hoopman, his grandfather, was a young friend of Bernie
Pietenpol's who did all the drawings in the original plans 79 years ago. The Pietenpol is a completely unique community within homebuilding. No other design celebrate
the life and family of the designer and his friends in the same way. It is the granddaddy of all homebuilts, still built in large numbers, and a great community to
be a part of. Next year is the 80th anniversary of the design, and great plans are in the works to celebrate. If you're not committed to a particular airframe, your
Corvair could certainly find a good home on the front end of a Piet.
We had a very strong turnout for my Brodhead forum on Corvair engines. To give you some idea of the popularity of the Corvair in the Piet community, less than
10 of the people attending the forum did not own a copy of my Conversion Manual. It's a natural combination. In 1960, Bernie Pietenpol was the first person to fly a
Corvair. He used Corvair engines on all the aircraft he built for the rest of his life. The first Brodhead I attended was 1999. We flew our Piet there in 2000, a day
I still regard as my most rewarding one in aviation. I missed 2001, but have been a guest speaker at every Brodhead Piet reunion since. The event is pure grassroots
Above, during my talk on Corvairs, many of the people spilled over to the perfect weather outside the clubhouse. In the black baseball cap is Larry Hudson, a
good friend and builder who's been to many Corvair events. He's located near Indianapolis and is an excellent source of Corvair core engines and crankshaft work.
His phone number is 317 474-5179 in Whiteland, Indiana. Next to him are Piet builders and pilots Gary and Shad Bell. Leaning over to talk to them is Kurt Shipman of
Illinois. Kurt brought photos of his newly completed and flying Corvair powered Piet. It looks like a beautiful job. Kurt's day job is flying for the airlines. In the
tan hat is Randy Bush, whose Corvair powered Piet took its first flight in Tennessee last December. I'm looking forward to seeing all these Pietenpols wingtip to
wingtip at the 80th anniversary celebration. Doc Mosher, who wrote the Introduction to our Conversion Manual, is in the light ballcap on the far bench. He and his
wife Dee write, edit and publish the Brodhead Pietenpol Newsletter.
The following day was the Open House at Mark Petniunas' Falcon Machine Shop. His combination racecar and machine shop is the source of the finest Corvair cylinder
heads. We've put them on virtually every engine we've built in the past four years. Mark is now expanding his services to include engine assembly assistance and
test runs. We will eventually stock some of our catalog parts for in person pickup at his location. We intend to hold at least one Corvair College a year at his
location. Mark is an A&P, a graduate of Spartan School of Aeronautics, and has owned the same Corvair street racer for 29 years. His Corvair powered project is a
Murphy Rebel. Above, at Falcon, Ryan Mueller and his wife Jesse, Piet builders from the Chicago area, check out our Fifth Bearing demo engine.
Above, a guided tour of the cylinder head part of the facility. On the extreme right is Scott Statz, who is installing a Corvair on his beloved PA-15 based
Wagabond floatplane. Beside him is Rick Holland, a Corvair/Piet builder from Colorado who's attended numerous Corvair events over the years. Mark is in the center
of the photo next to Rick.
The above photo shows the clean room in which Mark assembles engines. At the center of the photo is the electronically fuel injected equal length runner engine that
Mark built last year and tested on our dyno. The installation was sized to fit inside our 601 Cowl. From left to right are Corvair/601 builders Ron Lendon from the
Detroit area who has been to many corvair events and Dino Bortolin from Canada, veteran of Corvair College #9, and Peit builder Rick Holland.
The above photo shows the casual cookout atmosphere that pervaded the Falcon event. We did disassemble an engine, inspected numerous sets of cylinder heads, and
answered a lot of technical questions. The event ran from noon till 9 p.m. and the 45 people who attended came in several waves on their way to Oshkosh.
My first 2008 Oshkosh forum was at 8:30 a.m. on Opening Day. It was packed to overflowing and was something of annual gathering point for dozens of old
firends in the Corvair movement. Ever present Corvair KR-2 pilots Mark Jones, Mark Langford and Joe Horton were on hand. Mark Langford took a bow for reaching 660 hours
on his aircraft. Our senior ranking Corvair pilot Cleone Markwell, an Illinois 601 HD builder, also was on hand. He is just shy of 60 years senior to Morgan Hunter, who is
the youngest guy we know of to have built and flown his own Corvair powered aircraft. While I was introducing everyone, Dr. Steve Mineart, Covair/601 builder from
Iowa, stepped up to say that his aircraft had taken its first flight 48 hours previously. We'd met Dr. Mineart on our 2005 Midwest Night School Tour. It was very
gratifying to hear that his project had come together and flown well. It was excellent encouragement for many of the people at the forum who hadn't been previously
exposed to the Corvair movement.
For the fifth year in a row, our commercial Corvair display was part of the Zenith Aircraft Company booth. Oshkosh affords us a once a year chance to see many old
friends. On the left is Leonard Millholland, an old school Texan EAA guy best known for his work with the Leagle Eagle and 1/2 VW. On the right is Corvair/701 builder
John Bolding, whose EAA track record goes back several decades. Leonard traditionally stops by on his birthday to get a hug from Grace, center. Something that people
who read the Net would not suspect is illustrated in this photo. Most long-term successful entrepreneurs in experimental aviation are actually very friendly to each other.
Having followed similar paths of years of work and testing, we understand what it takes to succeed regardless of what the product is. This holds true even if the
products compete with each other. The bickering and cattiness seen on some Web sites is almost always indicative of someone who has not done their homework to earn a
place among the EAA's pantheon of entrepreneurs.
I'd not seen him in a few years, but standing next to me above is Art Olochowski. Art is a fellow Embry Riddle alum who got started in aviation working on V-8 Lancairs
for me 13 years ago. A former Marine with impressive craftsmanship and motivation, he works for Cessna in Wichita today. The display boards in the background are part
of our new presentation in the Zenith booth.
My 20 years of working with Corvairs have brought us many rewards. The most valuable of these is certainly the people we've met along the way. I can think of no
other career which would have allowed us to cross paths with so many unique people we respect. At the very top of this pinnacle is Major Tammy Duckworth and
her husband Bryan Bowlsbey. For a bit of background, read this link to our stop at Walter Reed Hospital in 2005. The helicopter pilot I was
writing about was Major Duckworth. We did not use her name at the time because she was not publicly known and was still serving in the Army. We had actually met her and
Brian breifly at Oshkosh several years before. Our brother-in-law John rarely speaks of his work, and never mentions any soldier's name, thus seeing Tammy and Brian at
the ceromony was unexpected. Through all of the unspeakable acts of human courage and endurance John has certianly seen, the survival of Major Duckworth in spite of her
horrific wounds and 13 months at Walter Reed still astounds him.
Yet, she has done much beyond survival: She was narrowly defeated in a run for Congress, and was subsequently appointed as the Director of Veterans Affairs for the State
of Illinois. She has returned to flying in a Piper, and has plans to build a homebuilt. She is a relentlessly positive person. Her husband Bryan, an Army officer himself,
who has just returned from another tour in Iraq, has been the kind of support we all vow to be on our wedding day, but few are called to live up to. Major Duckworth's
father was a Korean War veteran. He passed away while she was at Walter Reed. He was buried a few miles away at Arlington National Cemetary. It is my understanding that
they are the only Father-Daughter Purple Heart combination in U.S. history.
I had one rainy afternoon to spend looking around the museum. I came across this 440 cid aircooled Ranger inline six at the Pioneer Airport section of the museum. It is a
200 hp engine of WWII vintage. They were on Fairchild 24s, PT-19s, Grumman Widgeons and a number of other classics. Take a goog look at the intake manifold, with the
white and red cutaway sections. Note how the feed pipe for each group of three cylinders is offset just like a Corvair head. The next time an armchair expert tells you
that the Corvair's head is not well designed, or has poor fuel distribution, save time and tell him he is a genius, then walk away knowing that many aircraft have the
exact same design as the Corvair.
While this isn't the greatest photo, it does give a glance at what our current Corvair powered project plane will look like. This is the Wittman Buttercup. This
aircraft was built in 1937. It is a very clever cabin plane that originally flew on 50 HP. This plane reportedly has 5,000 hours on it. It was retired to the museum
after Steve's death in 1993. Earl Luce built a replica in 2002 and offers plans. The full story on the plane is in the May 1989 issue of Sport Aviation.
Sebastien and Roger in front of our display in the Zenith Booth. This was the fifth year in a row of our cooperative displays at airshows. We are also been in
their booth at Sun n Fun five times, Held an Corvair open house at the factory, Two colleges at Quality sport planes, The West coast Zenith facility, held another
College at Can Zac, the Canadian Facility, and reciently displayed in the Zenith booth at the Arlington Washington fly in. This track record shows that we are fully
commited to supporting Zenith Builders who choose the Corvair. This level of direct cooperation is one of the reasons Zenith builders are comfortable working with us.
Zenith rolled out two new models for the show, the 750 and the 650. Good news for Corvair fans, Both of these aircraft have the same firewall forward package as
the 601. The only slight difference is two small tubes in the 750 mount to support the cabin bracing. Thus our years of work and testing that went into the
601 systems, now also pays off on the 750 and 650. While at the show, I took the time to meet with Bob Mackey, head of the EAA's insurance program to outline
our efforts with build centers, test run programs, and documentation like the instalation manual. He was very pleased. Our work with the Corvair is the only
fully insurable automotive based package for the 601. While the vast majority of Zenith builders are building clones of our instalations, I remind people temped
to deviate that it may be impossible to insure. Few people know that the massive international finincial house AIG is behind almost all aviation insurance.
If you watch BBC world news, you will learn two things; the value of the Euro is going to keep the price of Rotaxes astronomicaly high, and AIG has taken a huge
beating lately. The first one has no effect on Corvair builders, the second means that the insurance market may tighten up a lot, and insurance for one of a kind
stuff will likely get much harder to find. I have worked for years with Bob and his team to make sure that the people who choose to follow our work with the
corvair have fair, affordable coverage available.
The man in the photo with me is Dave Mensink from Preston,Minnesota. He built a fantastically beautiful Corvair powered Pietenpol several years ago. He
invited Grace and I to make a house call after Oshkosh 2003 to inspect it. His home is just a few miles from Cherry Grove, the tiny town Berine Pietenpol called home
most of his life. Dave took the time to bring us all the way out to the original flying field and shared his memories of being a small child around Bernie's
airstrip. It was a surreal, quiet day. We stood on the field and didn't talk much for a long time. We had just come from the crowds at Oshkosh, and the contrast
couldn't have been more dramatic. Standing there, I honestly felt that there was a timeless truth in flying that you could discover if you spent enough time in
Cherry Grove. I have never had this sensation on the ground anywhere else. We took a little coffee can of soil, which has since lived on top of our refrigerator.
Once every great while, when I am having one of those days where you question the value of your path in life, I take the can down and look inside.
If you look at their lives close enough, all of the greats offer something to guide us in pursuit of the timeless truth of flying. Pietenpol teaches that we are
more likely to find it in the simplest of planes; Lindberg knew that you started your search inside yourself; Gann said that we will not see the truth directly,
but you can watch it at work in the actions of airmen; and Wittman showed that if you flew fast enough, for long enough, you just might catch it. These men, and many
others, spent the better part of their lives looking for this very illusive ghost. Some of them paid a high price, but you get the impression they all thought
it was worth it.
While it is possible that someone who rents a 172 or even a person who reads Fate is the Hunter has some access, I honestly think that the homebuilder who dreams,
plans, builds and eventually flys his own plane is infinitely more likely to experience the timeless truth of man's quest for flight. All of the aviators who had
some insight to guide you found it while they were in action, in the arena. If you inherently feel that you want to build a plane, you feel just like Pietenpol did.
When you're building it, you will find out how determined you are and what kind of perseverance you have. Lindberg evaluated these qualities in himself every day.
As you finish and prepare to fly, you will find others of enormous qualities and flaws, and you will learn to sort them and their counsel, as Gann always did.
And when you fly your plane, and come to trust it because it is your creation, and you cut no corners, you will never want to stop, the way Wittman never did.
Oshkosh 2010 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2009 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2007 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2006 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2005 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2004 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2003 With FlyCorvair.com
Oshkosh 2000 With FlyCorvair.com