William Wynne
The Corvair Authority
5000-18 HWY 17 #247
Orange Park, FL 32003


Corvair Powered Wagabond N707SV

Dave "The Bear" Vargesko, Malabear, Fla.

This group of three in-flight photos of Dave's Wagabond were taken by our video producer, Merrill Isaacson, just before Sun 'N Fun 2006. Our test pilot Gus Warren did the initial test flights. My wife Grace Ellen gave it some good workouts, including steep turns, Dutch rolls and dives, and reported she had a blast flying it: A nice, responsive, smooth flyer that's built sturdy.

Above is a photo of Dave's Wagabond taken in front of our hangar before Oshkosh 2005. Dave works in our shop, and his plane is staying here until it's finished. He's made a lot of progress in the past 90 days, and he is a few details short of beginning the covering. Before he started the airframe, Dave built a very nice 164cid Corvair engine. He test ran this engine many hours on his own test stand and ours. Once his plane is covered, it won't take long before it goes for its first flight.

A Wagabond is a two-seat side-by-side high wing taildragger. It's an experimental aircraft built to plans sold by Wag Aero. Aesthetically it resembles a Piper PA-15/17 Vagabond, thus its name. Structurally, however, it is a closer cousin to a Piper PA-22-108 Colt. The Colt was a two-seat tricycle geared certified Piper airplane built between 1960 and 1964. While the Wagabond can be built from scratch, one option is to begin with the fuselage of a Colt. This is the genesis of Dave's plane. This requires less work, but still has enough modifications to the fuselage to qualify it as an experimental.

Above is a photo of the business end of the plane. The motor mount design is one that we've used before on other flying airplanes such as Gary Coppen's Skycoupe. When the engine has to be moved forward in the airframe for weight and balance purposes, this is my design of preference. I have also used this design to meet the mounting requirements of other airframes like the Midget Mustang. Dave's airplane has a dummy motor supporting our nosebowl and a Vans 13" spinner. He'll be flying his plane with a 2-blade 68" Warp Drive prop. Since this photo, he has carefully made a three-piece windshield similar to the one on a Fairchild 24. Although you might think that this windshield and cowling might be of dissimilar styling, they actually blend very nicely. Dave has also converted the rudder pedals to hydraulic toe brakes since this photo was taken.

Here's a view of the front landing gear attach fitting. Both the landing gear legs and these attach fittings had to be fabricated from scratch. There is a myth that says you can turn stock PA-22 landing gear legs around and use them as taildragger gear. Yes, they bolt on backwards, but no, the axel is not in the right location. The chain in the photo is holding the gear leg in place. Since the photo, Dave has fabricated beautiful struts utilizing internally held die springs. More photos soon.

Many of you will recognize the tailspring and tailwheel unit above as an RV unit. You can purchase this complete assembly from Van's Aircraft for less than $300. It is a swiveling tailwheel with very positive steering action. If you're building a two-seat taildragger, this tailwheel setup deserves serious consideration. Did you ever wonder why there are hundreds of hangar stories about taming the taildragger, and yet every year at Oshkosh there are 200-300 taildragger RVs on the field? Have you ever heard one of these horror stories involving an RV? A big part of the answer of why you haven't is the quality and operation of this tailwheel. A 1 1/8" 120 wall tube was welded into the fuselage as a socket for the spring.

Another view of Dave's plane, above. People frequently ask how large of an airplane the Corvair engine will power. Here's a good example of the capabilities of the engine: When done, this aircraft will have a 29-foot wingspan, 725-750 pound empty weight with electric start, and a 1,500 pound gross weight. I'm sure the plane will have good performance even on a simple direct drive 164cid Corvair. We've only had one visitor to the hangar question this, but I pointed out to him that the original PA-15s and 17s were identical in size to the Wagabond, and flew quite happily on 65hp Continentals. You can check out our Thrust Testing Page and see how the direct drive Corvair motor will more than match the output of C-85s and O-200s. This is why I'm sure Dave's plane will be a good performer and an efficient flyer. And the icing on the cake? Dave has a little more than a year of part time work in the plane, and he'll have less than $8,000 in the airplane the day it flys. A hard combination to beat.

Dec. 4, 2005 Update - The Wagabond Flys


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