Sun 'N Fun 2007:
A Great Show For Corvairs
After weeks of work and preparation, the first major air show of the year, Sun 'N Fun, got started on April 17 and
continued through the 23rd, Monday. The week before the show, we heard from many friends planning on attending, and this
always adds a positive tone to the last hours of preparation. Being the CEO at FlyCorvair.com always qualifies me for the cush
jobs: Driving Corvair parts through the night for a dawn arrival on the first day of
the show. It's a long drive, and gave me time to put things in perspective. This year is the 19th in a row I've attended
Sun 'N Fun, spending the entire week most years. My first year was spent in awe of the creative possibilities open to homebuilders.
By the second year, I realized that as an A&P mechanic and college student, there weren't exactly dozens of companies lining up to
provide me with affordable ways to finish my homebuilt. This period was when I began to realize there had to be a lot of people
in this same position.
I was working on a Corvair for my Pietenpol project as early as the Spring of 1989, and had certainly read about the work of
guys like Waldo Waterman and Bernie, but there was none of it to be seen at Sun 'N Fun. When my Corvair powered Piet did arrive at
Sun 'N Fun, it was the first Corvair powered plane I could ever remember seeing there. Working with my notes and support, the next
arrival was Steve Makish in his KR-2, followed the next year by Bob Lester in his KR-2. This year, seven Corvair powered
airplanes flew in for the air show. Three were making their first visit.
Over the years, 14 different Corvair powered aircraft have been to the show, some many times. I'm proud to say that my crew and
myself were a part of each of these arrivals. If you're at home reading this, thinking about where you're going to fly your
Corvair powered plane when it's all done, put Sun 'N Fun 2008 on your list. You'll be joining some pretty good company.
SNF 2007 was the Corvair Personal Crusiser's air show debut, above. The plane is a joint effort of Morgan Hunter and Scott VanderVeen. You
can read all about it on http://www.corvaircruiser.com/
Early in the project, I built the motor mount for this airplane, and last year, we built the engine for it.
The airplane was a big hit at the show. Morgan flew it around the showcase pattern daily, and answered questions relentlessly.
Scott was inside, answering questions about the Corvair Cruiser and assisting the Contact! staff in their booth.
Morgan and Scott made quite a team at the show, and left quite an impression. Scott tells me that kits are available now for
anyone who's ready to move.
We first met Morgan when we were operating out of the Spruce Creek airport 3 1/2 years ago. Even then, at age 19, it was
apparent he was bright and gifted, the kind of young man whom old school builders really want to see succeed. In his journey were
many frustrating moments, like having the Hurricanes of 2004 blow the door off his hangar. Others would have bowed out, but Morgan
stuck with it. Now, with Scott as a teammate, they were the toast of homebuilders at Sun 'N Fun. Persistence pays.
Joe Horton of Pennsylvania won the long distance award with a flight of nearly 1,000 miles to Sun 'N Fun in N357CJ, above.
Joe's KRVair is a stretched S model with the new airfoils. His 3,100cc Corvair turns a 54x60 Sensenich. This gives him a top speed of
more than 170 mph.
Joe left early in the morning, and arrived before the field closed for the afternoon airshow.
The fact he can cover the majority of the length of the East Coast before mid-afternoon says a lot about the cross country capability of
This was his second Corvair powered
flight to Florida; he also flew in for Corvair College #10.
We first met Joe in person at Sun 'N Fun 2002, where he shared with us some photos of his KR in the boat stage. He was very modest about
his workmanship, but the photos revealed outstanding craftsmanship. Today the plane takes him where he wants to go with swiftness and
efficiency. He wrote his own chapter in the Golden Book of Homebuilding: Persistence Pays. Grace greeted him with a big hug and a
Miller Lite upon his arrival at the air show.
Dave The Bear's Wagabond, above, was the first Corvair powered airplane to show up this year. He was visiting his Mom and Dad, who live in the
area. Several times during the week, people asked me questions like "Does a direct drive Corvair have enough thrust to power a J-3
Cub?" Rather than answer their question in technical terms, I merely directed their attention to Dave's plane. If they needed further
convincing, I pointed out it also carries 36 gallons of fuel, and would easily be capable of carrying several 170 pound FAA Legal Adults.
The project started in 2001 when Dave and I took a long drive to Terry Bailey's place in Alto Mud Creek, Ga., to pick up a
rusty, bare Colt fuselage. Through thick and thin, Dave chipped away at it after hours while working in our hangar. On many nights when
it would have been much more comfortable to sit at home with his children and lovely wife Tammy, whom you may have also met at
Sun 'N Fun, Dave was in our hangar working on a
small task on his plane. A little more than a year ago, the plane made its first flight, and today it's closing in on its first hundred
hours of flight. Although progress at times was measured in very small increments, Dave stuck with it.
Grace stayed home an extra day to fill orders before heading to Sun 'N Fun.
We received a lot of products from our CNC suppliers before the show and Grace wanted to get them out the door before leaving for the
Many people don't realize a lot of Florida looks
like this photo, which Grace took on her way across the state to my first of this year's Sun 'N Fun forums.
I gave four forums in the Contact! magazine tent. As usual, attendance was good. Above is a quick shot of the first forum.
More than half the people at the forum were new faces. This influx of new people is a good indication of the broadening appeal of the
Rick Lindstrom's N42KP 601XL, which he built from a quick build kit with the assistance of my crew the past year, was the
centerpiece of the Zenith Aircraft Co. booth. I shot the photo above early in the morning, when the plane was still dewy.
The reflection on the wings, flaps and tail shows off the high degree of finish on the airplane.
2007 was the second year in a row for builders to get a good look at the Wicked Cleanex.
Dan Weseman flew the airplane down on Thursday with his son Brett. This year, it's sporting a fresh paint and polish job that
Dan did himself. Although you can't see it in the photo above, this airplane is equipped with Gold Hub #1.
From Sweet Home Alabama, Mark Langford's well known KR-2S N56ML making a return appearance at Sun 'N Fun, above. The plane now
has in excess of 400 hours on it. Mark also flew in to Corvair College #10, and we gave him the
Steve Jones Memorial Award for flying 292 hours over a 365 consecutive-day period. Mark has recently gone back to a 3,100 cc powerplant.
This afforded him a boost in performance. Mark left Sun 'N Fun with a 64x52 Sensenich prop that we had on the shelf. He's installing
gear leg extensions to give him a better deck angle on the ground. This will afford him enough clearance for the test prop.
I'm very interested in the comparison of data from the 64" and 54" props on his plane. My prediction is that it will dispell a lot
of pet theories on prop diameter amongst armchair experts. A more practical use of the data will give a look at climb rates and speeds,
and allow people building Corvair twins to integrate the appropriate prop diameter in their design.
A photo Grace took at the Zenith booth mid-show reveals some diverse and friendly faces: Left of the tail, Ralph Mirabal and his son,
ZenVair 601 builders from Miami, myself, and to my right, Matt Latti, our Nosebowl subcontractor.
As Sun 'N Fun drew near, I enlisted two Embry-Riddle students to help fly off hours on the plane: CFIs for hire Ryan Olson and
Bruce Williams. They're both members of Embry-Riddle's Sport Aerobatics Club, and fly the club's aerobatic machinery, and each gave the
601 very positive reviews. On Thursday we attended the Zenith Webmasters BBQ, hosted by ZenVair 601 builder Mark Townsend of Can-Zac. It was a good
chance to socialize, and we ran into ZenVair 601HD builder/pilot Randy Stout and his lovely wife Sandra.
Rick's airplane is headed to Quality Sportplanes, http://qualitysportplanes.com/, Zenith's West Coast facility run by Michael Heintz.
Although it won't make it for the May 5 Open House, West Coast ZenVair 601 builder
Woody Harris will be on hand with a limited number of Conversion Manuals and DVDs.
Grace shot the above photo at my second forum. The photo captures five pilots of high performance Corvair powered aircraft:
The two in back from left are Chris Smith with The Son of Cleanex and Wicked Cleanex builder and pilot Dan Weseman. From right in front, KRVair pilots
Bob Lester and Steve Makish. Between them, they have about 500 hours of Corvair flight time. Conservatively
estimating it at 150 miles an hour, they've flown enough miles to fly around the earth at the Equator more than 3 times.
With Mark Langford, Joe Horton, Morgan Hunter and Dick Schmidt also in the tent, there was another 650 hours of experience on hand. Later in the day we
saw Randy Stout and Greg Jannakos, both 601 guys with another 240 hours between them.
Above is Pramod Kotwal of Nitron, Inc., our crankshaft nitrider in Massachusetts. He came down to the show to meet Corvair builders
in person and display his new aluminum cylinders with ductile iron liners. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum:
Pramod, Grace and I caught a ride with City of Lakeland Volunteer Stu Hall. Pramod and I sat on the tailgate of Stu's dump body
John Deere Gator. Stylishly approaching the forums in limo style service at 15 mph, the bed latch popped and unceremoniously dumped us on our
butts and spread all our display items on the grass in front of the tents. After discovering we'd only bruised our dignity and derrieres,
we had a very good laugh over how important image and dignity is in industry. Pramod nitrided many of the cranks in the Corvair powered
planes that flew to SNF.
At Sun 'N Fun, Grace researches her new book: The Beer and Cracker Diet: Not Recommended By Any Doctor. Look for it on
the New York Times Best Seller List soon. Do not accept any substitutes. Our friend, old school Corvair builder Terry Bailey,
assisted in the "Beer Only" control group in Grace's study.
Our families are great supporters of Sun 'N Fun, and endeavour not to miss
the event. Above are Grace and I with her father on the left,
friend from Newfoundland, Ray Whalen at far left. Both Grace's mom and Ray's wife Juanita were taking photos of the family.
Ray and Juanita were visiting from their new home in Labrador, and enjoyed immersing themselves in the airshow experience for the
first time. The whole family stayed for the 601 builders barbecue. A good day at Sun 'N Fun.
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 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