Sun 'N Fun 2010
My 22nd Consecutive Year
In The Company Of
Builders and Friends
2010 was my 22nd consecutive year at Sun 'N Fun at Lakeland (Fla.) Linder Airport. As you look at the following photos, note they're almost all of people. While I love most things
about the machinery of aviation, after two decades, the people remain continuously interesting to me, while the vast majority of equipment is unchanged from
years before. It took three years of attending Sun 'N Fun before I made a single friend I could eat lunch with and share the day. Over the years, we've come
to know countless people in every corner of an air show like Sun 'N Fun. But I can still remember how much it added to attending Sun 'N Fun when I got to make
my first friends there. When we meet someone who's on their first or second visit, I make a point of introducing them to a number of the regulars, bringing them
along to cookouts and vendor visits. Every enthusiastic person should get to know some fellow builders of all experience levels. It's the best reward of
When it comes to meeting new people, it helps to have a good personality. Grace has a knack for meeting new people wherever we go. Sun 'N Fun has a more casual
atmosphere than Oshkosh. At Grace's first Sun 'N Fun, she met Duane Cole, Bob Hoover and Paul and Audrey Poberezny. Most displays at Oshkosh focus on a high
degree of professionalism. Conversely, a number of the Sun 'N Fun displays are much more relaxed. Above is Grace with new friend Karen at the Grand Champion Stearman display on
the flight line. Karen was part of a group from a major airline who came to SNF just to have fun.
We had this sign constructed to explain our work with the Zenith 701. This year marked the 7th consecutive Sun 'N Fun where our Corvair work has been displayed
in the Zenith Company booth. This longstanding position of trust is something that we take as a very serious compliment to our efforts to bring very affordable
engines to Zenith builders. Every year, a new crop of here-today-gone-tommorrow LLCs show up offering all type and manner of alternative engines, almost always
displayed on non-flying mockup aircraft. Conversely, the 701 we displayed has been flying for two years. It is a good indication of how seriously we take testing
One of the events we look forward to every year at Sun 'N Fun is the Zenith Builders Barbecue hosted by Mark Townsend of Can-Zac Aviation, Zenith's Canadian
distributor, who also happens to have a Corvair on the front of his own 601. In the photo above, Mark makes introductions as everyone takes a break from some
At the Zenith barbecue, from left to right above, Roy Szarafinski, Antonio Panzera, Contact! magazine Editor Pat Panzera and 750 builder Jimmy Young. Both Roy and Jimmy were at
Corvair College #17 a month previous.
Above, Jon Croke, who is well known to many homebuilders as the man behind the Homebuilt Help DVD series. He is a seriously accomplished builder who also has
mad skills behind the camera. He also attended Corvair College #17. He later confessed to previously having the vague notion that Corvair College
was akin to a technial seminar held in the banquet room of a Holiday Inn. CC #17 was his first Corvair event, and he was rapidly re-educated to experience how fun and
productive Corvair Colleges really are. His Web site, HomebuiltHelp.com, now has an Intro to Corvair College DVD available to show other people the real story.
Above, Grace Ellen with Corvair/601 builder/pilot Lynn Dingfelder of Corry, Pa. Lynn is most of the way through his upgrade on the airframe and used the time to also install a
Weseman 5th bearing. Last year, he conducted tests that surprised a lot of people, demonstrating how well the 601/Corvair combination climbs at altitude.
Above, Corvair builder/pilot Alan Uhr and son from Tampa, Fla., at the Zenith Builders Barbecue. Alan attended CC#9, and purchased
all the components from us to install a Corvair in his 601.
His airframe upgrade is underway now. His previous experience in aircraft is mostly in gyros.
Above, Corvair/601 builder/pilot Gary Thomas, who flew his bird to Corvair College #16, checks out our flying Corvair powered 701 in the
Zenith Aircraft Company booth. He lives in the US, but is a native of Bath, England.
nVAero.com is a Southern California based business run by our friend and all around good guy, Steve Glover. The business was formed to market all things KR on behalf of
Rand Robison, the company run by Ken Rand's family. Steve is the factory-authorized outlet for KR parts, kits, information, wing skins, etc. An accomplished builder in his
own right, Steve is also a well known pilot of experimentals and alternative engines. No Johnny-Come-Lately, he has been around the KR world for many years,
and enjoys the support of many friends in the KR community. 2010 marked Steve's first year at Sun 'N Fun. He flew out commercial with a lot of stuff to display, but
called on Joe Horton, Corvair/KR pilot extraordinaire, to display his aircraft in the nVAero.com booth. It garnered a lot of attention, including pieces for magazines and
cable television coverage. I've known Steve for years, and he's attended many Corvair Colleges. He's currently building a Corvair-powered KR-2S that
will highlight his Quick Build Kit and molded wing skins with the new airfoil. This aircraft will feature our KR-2 Motor Mount, Intake, Exhaust
System and Cowling, which all are compatible with Steve's products.
The Pietenpol pictured above belongs to Harold Johnson of the Big Piet Group. Almost all of the Big Piets are flying now, and Harold and Bruce flew theirs down to
Sun 'N Fun to rave reviews. Also on hand was Big Piet builder Barry Davis, who was recently elected to the EAA Board of Directors, a very good thing for homebuilders.
The Big Piet Builders chose Corvair power long ago. They made a special trip to our old Spruce Creek hangar in 2003. Their engines are based on designs we developed
in the Black Hub era. The engines and aircraft feature a lot of individual touches while certainly remaining sister ships. Harold won the Sun
'N Fun 2010 Trophy for Best Automotive Installation, a good beginning for years of flying and going to shows. Look for them at Brodhead.
Another look at our 701 testbed in the Zenith booth at Sun 'N Fun. The plane was lightly polished before the show and we put some modest graphics on it to make it look
a little sharper. In the weeks before the show, Dan Weseman and I worked to upgrade the aircraft with one of his families' 5th bearings. When we built the plane several years
ago, 5th bearings were just geting started. All of the flying with the aircraft done to this point was without a bearing. Here is a very important point for Zenith 701 and
750 builders to understand: It is my strongest recommendation that builders of these two airframes use 5th bearings. Our flight testing, particularly the very high angle of
attack stuff that these planes are capable of, has clearly revealed that the resulting angle of attack differential between the ascending and descending prop blades generates
the kind of loads that 5th bearings are designed to deal with. With a great number of airframes, the choice to use a 5th bearing or not is a personal one. With these two planes,
I consider it mandatory. This is the real value of flight testing by educated people. At SNF I explained this to builders. Not a big deal to our guys because the handful of engines
we assembled destined for these airframes all had Dan or Roy bearings. The customer built engines intended for 701s can all be equipped with Dan bearings as a retrofit. The one guy
who didn't like the news had bought an $8,000 engine from a now broke LLC that had no 5th bearing, nor was the crank tapped for a Safety Shaft, precluding it from any kind of an
upgrade. I took the time to explain the technical reasons why he was SOL. Usually I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who make every decision based on bargain hunting, but it
was tough to watch a guy come to learn that a very poor choice on his part probably was the moment that determined that he will never fly his plane.
Grace shot this photo while driving through the National Forest on her way to SNF. Grace had missed the last two years, but was determined to come out and have a good time with
everyone this year. Roy Szarafinski and I had driven down the day before to set up and Grace and the dog came the next day. The drive through the Forest is one of the most scenic roads
in Florida, and a good reminder of how much empty space there is in the state.
This is Scoob E setting a new record for quickest drive to Sun 'N Fun. Florida is a big place, and SNF is about 175 miles from our home base. Without a trailer nor traffic, Grace
made the trip in half the normal alloted time. Driving is big fun for Scoob E. He will gladly go anywhere. Dogs are allowed in the campground at SNF, and he had a very
good time at the show.
Steve Glover of nVAero.com on the left, and Joe Horton of Pennsylvania on the right, with his KR-2S. Compared to Oshkosh, the night schedule is a lot more laid back at SNF. As a group, a lot
of us had a chance to eat dinner together, and catch up several nights in a row. Often at Oshkosh, the giant size of the place makes it hard to find your friends at the end of the day.
We have known both Joe and Steve for many years, and they are both excellent dinner company. I would much rather laugh around a smokey campfire eating burned marshmallows with
guys like these than dine at Sardi's with people of lesser character.
Above, a photo from one of the forums I gave in the Engine Tent. The engine forums are organized by Pat Panzera, editor of Contact! and Experimenter magazines. This was the 14th year in
a row that I gave forums on the Corvair at SNF. At a typical forum, there are always a number of experienced Corvair pilots on hand to introduce, and a number of well known builders.
But, in the back of my mind, I think about the people who are attending their first Corvair forum. What will time show their accomplishments to be? Who among them will build? Who will fly?
Over all the years, I have learned that successful builders don't fit any easily identifiable look or background, but they do have attitudes and traits in common. Mostly, these are a positive outlook by nature.
It was in this forum tent at SNF 1999 that I met Mark Langford, who has gone on to be one of the most influential builders and pilots in the Corvair movement. I think that every new guy who
walks into the tent has the same shot at making such a contribution to the World of Flying Corvairs. No one can do the work for you, but many people have paved the way and will
be there to congratulate you when you make it.
Grace takes a break at a friendly tent at the show. The cow is saying "Got Stearman?" instead of "Got Milk?"
I don't watch much of the airshow. There are only so many years of T-6s with overspeeding props I can take. But one routine that catches my eye is the Beech 18. After a while, I came
to the conclusion that part of the appeal for me was the plane's period paint job in place of a cell phone advertisement. You can look up at this plane fly and imagine you are at the
National Air Races in the late 1930s.
I often reference my years at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. A small number of people dislike this, because they feel I am trying to tell people how smart I am. I will gladly tell anyone that I'm
not really clever, and when viewed in the larger group of educated aviation professionals, I hold only working class guy status. Want to know what a really brilliant aeronautical engineer with a lifetime of experience looks like?
Above is Joe Martin, with his lovely wife Mary. Joe was, and is, my mentor in structural analysis of aircraft. His years as a professor at Embry-Riddle capped a career that started with
bucking rivets on the F-104 production line. He put himself through night school and went on to a distinguished engineering career, mostly with Convair and General Dynamics. Want to know
the mathematical models used to analyze the F-106 wing? Anything you want to know about F-111s? Wind tunnels? Close coupled canards? Semi tension fields? Indeterminate structures?
Where Fortan 77 is still a viable tool? When you're all done talking, he will take you out to the shop and show you how rivets are set to Lockheed standards.
Joe's background extends to very practical matters on light aircraft. He did the structural analysis on the Stewart-51 Mustang, and has designed a number of other light aircraft. In 1997, I was making
new landing gear for our Pietenpol. The legs were 4" taller and had steel springs in place of the bungees. Joe's hangar was next to ours, and I wanted to have him check the tear out strength
on the connection bolts for me. I came back from dinner and found a very neat hand calculation of the forces done by Joe on a little piece of paper. It was sitting on my cowl held
down by an empty Pabst Blue Ribbon can, and on the bottom it had the date, a line that said "it checks ok," and the initials "JM." A visitor to the hangar who also had been at dinner
was alarmed, and said they would never trust such a person, and that the empty can was "a bad image." I told them that I felt sorry for anyone who went through life more concerned about
the right image instead of the right answer.
Many years ago, I used to sit in on a Tai Chi class. Our instructor was African American, who had the improbable path of growing up impoverished in the U.S., joining the Navy, visiting
Okinawa, and later returning to spend 15 years adopted into a monastery on the island, where he began intense martial arts study. When entering the room, he demonstrated how we were to bow slightly and say "Sir." One night a visiting
middle aged woman, with a certain dress and manner that implied she was worldly, open minded and enlightened, walked in and gave a full five minute dissertation to the instructor on
how she didn't accept the "Paradigm of a male centric world" and that she was in no way obligated to bow to him, and that years of sisterhood allowed her to unlearn "self nullifying behavior,"
shaving her legs and saying thank you to men who opened the door for her. When she was all done, he simply said that it was a sign of respect for his instructor and his adopted family in Okinawa, and it had
nothing to do with him. Her entire response was to say "Ohh..." When I speak about my alma mater, I am not congratulating myself for attendance, I am really just making a note of thanks
to the professors like Joe Martin who made a very large difference in my life.
I stand next to Corvair College #17 graduates Ray Fuenzalida, center above, and Jared Schexnaydre. Both of these guys call New Orleans home. We have had some very serious conversations about having a Corvair College there in Spring 2011.
(That's less than a year away.) CC #17 was a landmark of intense fun. Working off this experience, these guys want to host an event which has its onwn angle, atracting the better
half of builders also. We are seriously considering
ideas like chartering a bus to take everyone down to the French Quarter so we can have a very classy Saturday night dinner. However it works out, it is a great example of the
kind of people who are attracted to the Corvair movement, and the possibilities well beyond an affordable, reliable powerplant.
Above right, Eric Demaray, and his father. Eric has been a lifelong flyer, as his dad got him started early in Pacers and Tailwinds. Eric and I have been friends back to 1993, when we worked on the first V-8
Lancairs. Eric edited my first Corvair Conversion Manual. His father camped out all week at SNF 1997, and spoke about things that still stick in my mind 13 years later. They flew to SNF
this year in Eric's Tailwind, which he handed over to the new owner (his father), who then flew it all the way back to the West Coast. In the past 13 years, I have spent maybe two or three days with Eric, and I have not seen
his father once. But there is something about the people in aviation that once you get to know them, you can pick right back up where you were. The passage of time doesn't erode the
connections you have with people with whom you share a very strong calling (like aviation).
A look inside the cockpit of Scott Vanderveen's Corvair Personal Cruiser. He won the long distance award by flying down from just north of Chicago. He also spent a few days
in the campground, and we did some catching up late at night. He flew down in a day, leaving early and arriving before dinner. It is well over 1,000 miles, and he made the trip on 30 gallons of fuel.
A side view of the Corvair Cruiser on the flightline. The weather you see in the photo was typical of the whole week, clear and sunny. It only drizzled for an hour one night. It
was the best weather at SNF in the past 10 years.
Scott next to the Corvair Personal Cruiser.
Rick Lindstrom came out to cover SNF for Kitplanes magazine. Rick is in the middle of upgrading his own Corvair powered 601 XL at his hangar in Livermore, Calif.
Corvair College #18 is going to be at Rick's place in the fall. We will have more information as soon as we nail down the exact date. We had a very large and fun crowd at
Rick's for CC #13, and we are
shooting to up the ante, and have every member of the Corvair All Stars present, and a good collection of flying planes on hand.
Corvair powered 601 XL builder and pilot Zersis Mehta and his lovely wife Jennifer. They were married last year, and are expecting this year. If you would like to read a fun story,
check out this link: Sun 'N Fun 2009
After SNF, Roy Szarafinski spent a few days at our place coordinating some work leading to Oshkosh. Roy picked up an enclosed trailer to take to Colleges and shows, so he will
be able to bring more of his tools and bearing stuff to share with builders. In the above photo, he is in our front yard preflighting his trusty Northstar Caddy that had carried him to many Colleges.
If you look closely, you can see Scoob E in the same position supervising.
Grace, Roy and Scoob E just before Roy headed north.
Sun 'N Fun 2012 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2011 With FlyCorvair.com
Sun 'N Fun 2009 With FlyCorvair.com
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