Sun 'N Fun 2005
April 19, 2005
We got back from Sun 'N Fun last night. We had a great time seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
Here are just a few photos from our weeklong stay at America's second largest airshow. It was the 16th year
in a row I've gone to Sun 'N Fun, and the eighth year I've been doing presentations, forums and seminars on
the Corvair engine. I first attended Sun 'N Fun in 1989 as a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Since my first exposure, I've been in love with experimental aviation. Back then, I had the inner desire to make a
mark, to Be In The Arena. While I've had many high points in the past 16 years of work in our field, few stand
out like having our 601 displayed in Zenith Aircraft's booth all week this year. Zenith Aircraft, a longtime
commercial exhibitor at Sun 'N Fun, has the premier display lot at the event. The exposure of Corvair powered
aircraft and its mainstream acceptance took a giant step forward during Sun 'N Fun 2005. I'd like to thank
the Heintz family and all of our friends who made our presence possible.
It was something of a record to have six Corvair powered aircraft fly in to a single location. The aircraft
included our 601 XL, Gary Coppen's Turbo Skycoupe,
Chuck Ufkes' Dragonfly, Steve Makish's KR-2, and Bob Lester's KR-2.
While a half dozen may not sound like a lot, realize this is twice as many Corvair powered aircraft as rotary powered
planes, more than were powered by VWs, and if you exclude the company planes of Jan Eggenfellner's commercial Subaru/RV
display, twice as many Corvair planes as Subaru. There were many one-off engine conversions that arrived and left by trailer.
I was very proud of our builders, that all six of our airplanes flew in, and flew home. Every one of them, with the
exception of Chuck's, has well in excess of 100 hours on Corvair Power. Chuck's conversion is new, and I'm sure he'll have
100 on the Hobbs by next year. Read and enjoy.
Gus and Corvair builder Chris Bobka, right, above, admire our firewall forward display in the Zenith Aicraft Company
display site. The 601 is in the background. In all the years I have been going to Sun 'N Fun and Oshkosh, our engine and
aircraft are the only alternative engines I can recall appearing in a Top 3 kit manufacturer's display. It was a very
proud moment when a magazine writer asked Chris Heintz what he thought of Corvair engines, and if he liked them.
"It's a good engine. It goes together. That is why it is in our booth," he said.
"Now that I've had your airplane for a year, it's exceeded my wildest expectations," I told him.
Corvair/Flybaby builder Stu Hall, above, left, volunteers a week of his time at Sun 'N Fun every year. Stu provided us
with a lot of crucial ground transportation. The first time a lot of people meet Stu is when he's making sure everyone's
drinking enough water, handing out hundreds of bottles from his giant cooler on the back of his John Deere Gator. Lakeland
is his home town now, and he wants everyone to enjoy themselves. I've known Stu for many years, and his fun and easygoing
nature are the first thing you'll notice on an aviator whose experience includes being highly decorated as a fixed wing U.S.
Army aviator in Vietnam.
You can see in the photo above how popular our firewall forward display is in the Zenith booth. Here I'm taking the
distributor cap off and rotating the crank to show people how the dual
points ignition works. Very well known Pietenpol builder and pilot Bill Rewey is in the turquoise shirt to my right
in the back.
Above from left are myself, Corvair/Pietenpol builder and flyer P.F. Beck, Barnwell, S.C., and new Corvair convert
Gardiner Mason. P.F. had considered flying down his Corvair Piet, but he takes his job volunteering all week in the woodshop
every year very seriously, and felt that the people who showed up to learn woodworking skills would be better served by him
being able to arrive early and stay late. We've invited P.F. to fly down for the next Corvair College.
Among the new friends we met this year is Myron Pickard, Doctor of Drag Racing, above left. As many of you know,
I spent a giant chunk of my youth in drag racing, and it was my entry point into the world of building engines and
vehicles. Drag racing, like jazz and baseball, is a uniquely American creation. In its 60 year history, it has attracted
many wildly creative and dynamic players. Myron is known amongst drag racers as one of the old school people of the sport.
He owns New England Motor Speedway, a very historic drag racing venue. He's had a long interest in light aviation, and
was fairly impressed with our work with Corvairs. A high compliment from a guy who's used to working with 5,000 horsepower
blown fuel Chryslers.
Here, Grace and I with Chris Heintz, the patriarch of Zenith Aircraft and one of the greatest designers of our industry.
Fifteen years ago, I read everything he wrote on aircraft design. His work was uniquely practical because it was based on
his real world experience. Years ago, little would I have guessed that we'd be able to enjoy a relationship such as we
A side view of the Turbo Skycoupe. If you're at home, worried about bringing your project to an
airshow because of its less than perfect finish, let me share this: The Skycoupe has an "industrial quality" covering
job, and the trim colors are painted on with spray paint cans. We did this the night before it flew. It was pointed out that
the masking tape to do the job actually cost more than the spray paint. Both totaled about $12. When it was done, I pronounced
it "a fine job, easily capable of passing for a paint job costing twice as much." The airplane attracted great attention,
and not a single derogatory comment was made about the finish. If you have a plane at home, get it done to your own
satisfaction and enjoy it. Never be concerned with what other people might think. Anybody who flew into the same airshow you
did will treat you with great respect and camaraderie.
The business end of the Turbo Skycoupe, above. Obviously, the next step is a radical
Here it is, the first Corvair powered Dragonfly. Built by Chuck Ufkes, Ocala, Florida. The aircraft was formerly powered
by a VW engine. The engine is super clean, a very nice looking installation. In the photo above, you can see a number of
mods that Chuck went into great detail developing. Most of this was driven by Chuck's desire to retain as much as possible
of the VW cowling. Chuck really liked the original cowling shape, wanted to stay with it and was willing to take the time
to modify the engine to fit it. The prop is by Ed Sterba, the carb is an Ellison EFS-3A. It has cast iron logs for exhaust.
In my estimation, the installation was a good candidate for the Best Auto Conversion Trophy. However, Chuck, being a
true sportsman, declined to have his plane judged because he is co-chairman of the Flight Ops at Sun 'N Fun, and
felt that throwing his hat in the ring would be inappropriate.
Chuck's Dragonfly on the flightline, above. The airframe has the highest finish I've ever seen on a Dragonfly in person.
Chuck himself, with a big smile, above. Hat's off to Chuck Ufkes, the first man to fly a Corvair powered Dragonfly.
Grace Ellen and her parents, Bob and Liz, in front of the the 601. Notice that her Dad is
wearing a Corvair College #4 shirt, and her Mom is wearing one of our Zenvair shirts.
One of the four forums that I gave at the Contact! magazine auto engine tent.
The forums were very well attended, with standing room only for the first three. This was my eighth year on the official forums
schedule at Sun 'N Fun.
Above is a photo of Grace Ellen and I with Michael Silvernagle of Saskatchewan, Canada. Mike and his dad, Murray Green,
both have running Corvair engines installed on the front end of their aircraft. Flight tests are to begin shortly,
pending better weather in the frozen north.
Above, Pat Panzera, editor of Contact! magazine, takes a photo inside the Skycoupe's
cowl. A big part of Sun 'N Fun for us is the chance to spend time, even if it's just a little bit, with many old friends.
Pat and John Moyle came out from California to represent Contact! magazine on the East Coast. We also got a
chance to see many other Corvair builders, like Mark Langford, Larry Koutz, Skip Gadd, Glen Bankstom, Mike and Jan Horwood,
Dan Weseman and many, many others. Although the event required a tremendous amount of prep work, being there with all the
builders really recharges our batteries and redefines the focus of our work with Corvair engines.
We'll have another update in a week or so as we get a few more photos back.
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 2008 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2007 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2006 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2004 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2003 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2002 With FlyCorvair.com