ISSUE # 24
NEWS:The last newsletter had so many "For Sale" ads that I didn't have room for much of what I had to report while still trying to keep it down to about 10 pages. I also didn't include Maintenance Item #18 (Landing Gear) with the last newsletter as I said I would and I apologize for that. I try to spend more time on it and get it to you next time. Scott Patterson sold his airplane to Ricky and Susan Phillips and has traded up (down?) to a Yak 52 to satisfy his ex-fighter pilot urges.
Copperstate Fly-In: 7 Vargas and 1 Shinn made it to this event. Lee and Pat Beery, Del Lutz, Floyd and Joyce Blankenbaker and Max Bishop flew in on Thursday. Roger Harris's (formerly John Vance's) airplane was also there but we never saw it's owner. Ed Brannon hasn't found his Varga yet but he was there with his family to enjoy the event. Dave Wells, new member Hellen Beulen (who bought Jim Moyle's Shinn), and George Geottl and friend Jennifer flew in for the day on Saturday. At 98 degrees every day, the weather was about 10 degrees higher than usual for this time of year in Phoenix so it was a little warm, but there seemed to be more than 200 airplanes on the flight line with lots of variety in aircraft types. I attempted to host a Squadron get-together on Saturday but I didn't plan very well so we ended up just swapping war stories for an hour or so. I really enjoyed listening and talking to everyone there and hope we can repeat the occasion in the near future. I will try to be better organized for the next Squadron meeting. Many thanks to all who made it and to friend and airplane partner Steve Marinella of AeroSpec who provided us with food, drink and much needed shade for the entire event. I've already gotten a letter from Del Lutz who sent some photos (I forgot my camera) and said he had a good flight back to Dallas.
Cactus Fly-In: This 38th annual antique aircraft event is held on March 1, 2 & 3, 1996 at Casa Grande, Arizona. I will be there all day on the 2nd and hope to see some of you there. Call me if you plan to be there too.
VG-21 Fly-In: On Saturday, April 13, 1996 I plan to have a get-together in the park near my hanger (A9) at Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona. I plan to grill hamburgers and hot dogs and provide soft drinks and coffee for those who can make it. I'll start the festivities at noon with a maintenance seminar and question and answer session after we eat. The Champlin Air Museum and a Confederate Air Force hanger are also nearby if you want to come early and look around. Please let me know if you think you can be there.
VARGAS FOR SALE
Ken Bunker still has his airplane for sale at $34,500. (408)248-6932
Pat Baylor's airplane is still for sale at $35,000. (817)246-4760
Roger Harris has his Varga (formerly John Vance's airplane) for sale at $40,000. Call Doug Donaldson for details at (602)866-3737.
George Geottl has his Model 2180 for sale for $45,000. (602)253-9577
MEMBERS & OWNERS:
VG-21 Membership: A $20 annual donation will cover all the printing and mailing costs for at least four issues a year and will help pay for return phone calls, letters and postage when you have questions or comments that require a quick or personal response. Old VG-21 Newsletters: $10 covers most of the printing and mailing costs.
The new owners if Varga 2150A, N4614V have moved and their new address is:
Ricky and Susan Phillips
1516 Blind Brook Lane
Vestavia, AL 35216-3305
Mark Palesh sold his Varga 2150A, N8288J to new member Tim Williams at:
10234 N. Oak Creek
Highland, UT 84003
If any of you have anything that you would like to pass along to other Varga owners, I would be glad to include that information in future newsletters. It can be a story about an interesting flight or person, a personal observation about Vargas or other airplanes (perhaps relative to, or in comparison with, a Varga), a local event or place of interest to you, airplane related humor or just something you just want to get off your chest.
In response to my query about taildragger conversions, I was expecting a few positive comments (or no comments at all) from people about why they'd like to convert their airplanes to taildraggers but, I was surprised by a post card from Del Lutz that said as follows:
Actually, even though I own a taildragger, I agree with Del. As an engineer, although I think it looks better as a taildragger, it doesn't seem make much sense to design and build something that is harder to use.
On the other hand, David Brown said, in part,
I asked Loren Perry if he would be willing to make and sell taildragger parts or installations and he said not for at least a year or more.
Loren and I also talked a little about market conditions for producing the airplane but I really didn't know what to say at the time. While attending the Copperstate Fly-In I got a chance to look at the new VanGrunsven RV-8, a new, larger version of the very popular RV-4. Having had a chance to fly Jim Moyle's RV-4 from the back seat, I can tell you from a little experience and conversations with RV-4 owners who have flown a Varga that their flying qualities are very similar but, as you may know, the RV-4 is much faster. The RV-4's biggest shortcoming is cockpit space. Although the front seat is not too bad and can accommodate fairly tall pilots, rear seat space and storage area is very limited. I've been told that heavy passengers can also create a CG problem in some RV-4's. The RV-8 appears to have solved all of those problems without seriously affecting it's other excellent flight characteristics. The RV series of airplanes are also capable of spins and some aerobatics. The only things left that might make the RV-8 less desirable than a Varga are that you have to build it yourself, it isn't currently available with tricycle gear and the fact that it is experimental and it can't be flown for rent or for hire.
The point of this one sided conversation is that if VanGrunsven now has over 1000 of his kit airplanes flying and if he chooses to certify his side-by-side RV-6 and tandem RV-6A, and his tandem RV-8 (and RV-8A?), he may be in a better position to take up the market for all metal two place airplanes than Loren Perry will ever be. VanGrunsven is, by now, a very skilled and experienced aircraft producer and marketer and, if willing to put up with FAA certification and production hassles, could probably start production within a year of his decision to do so. Although the Varga is certified, it needs several changes to bring it's performance up to date (closer to the RV) and Loren Perry may not have the resources to do the job. In other words, it may be less effort to certify a production kitplane than it would be to start building an out-of-production certified airplane. I'm afraid Loren may have missed his window of opportunity to return the Varga to production by a couple of years. On top of that, I suspect that Loren now has a lot of money wrapped up in the purchase, moving and storage of the tooling, inventory and his two Varga's and will have to be a very good salesman or very creative to recover his investment. Because there are only a few more than a hundred airplanes still flying, it is doubtful that Loren will ever be able to make reasonably priced parts at a profit, and that will make it difficult for him to make them. You will probably have to continue to find salvaged parts or have them made or repaired where ever you can. I'm sorry to say that I'm not very hopeful that new Varga airplanes or parts will be available any time in the near future.
On the other hand, there are (perhaps unfortunately) more salvaged aircraft to take parts from, most of the wearing parts you need are repairable or not too hard or expensive (in aircraft term$, of cour$e) to have made, some of the parts (engine, wheels & brakes, etc.) are still available off-the-shelf and, if we hang together, I'm sure we can find ways to keep ourselves in the air for as long as we want to fly.
In addition we should probably be very glad we already have an airplane like the Varga because new airplanes will cost so much more. It is rumored that the new Cessna 172 will cost over $100,000. A 118hp Citabria Aurora featured in the AOPA PILOT November 1995 issue has a price as tested of $67,500. In that same issue is an article about the Italian General Avia 160hp fixed gear F22B and 200hp retractable gear F22C which may be distributed by Lopresti Speed Merchants and sell for more than $130,000 and $170,000 respectively.
Frank Gulick has asked for design data or a 337 related to installation of shoulder harnesses in pre-harness airplanes. If someone out there has a 337 and can pass a copy on to Frank, I'm sure he'll appreciate it. I have no design data but can tell him (and you) what I did when I designed and installed the system on production airplanes in 1978.
We were buying our seat belts from American Safety and asked them to provide an inertia reel system that was similar to the existing seat belt installation and would fit both front and rear seats on the Varga. The FAA recommends in chapter 9 of AC43.13-2A that the inertia reel attachment be as far above the shoulder as possible to an angle of up to 30 degrees. In the rear seat, this meant that the best place to mount it was on the aft fuselage behind the hat shelf. This also meant a fairly long strap to the passengers waist. A low inertia "Y" type harness with a 66" strap gave us the travel we needed to fit both seats and was relatively easy to install at the rear seat. A preliminary load test with the harness mounted just to the skin of the aft fuselage showed that the skin was too flexible by itself when we hung 500# on it so we added a reinforcing channel and tied it to the nearby fuselage bulkhead. This attachment easily held the 500# weight. The front seat was a little harder to do. The need to raise the harness attachment above shoulder height dictated the installation of a head rest/roll bar structure. The easiest thing to do would have been to weld a hoop to the existing vertical tubes that hold the front seat but that would have made the structure fairly wide and difficult for the passenger/instructor to see around. So, in order to keep this structure as narrow as possible, I welded a hoop to the cross bar that the vertical tubes attach to and load tested it. It wasn't strong enough so I also attached the hoop to the seat with a sheet metal channel and reinforced the seat which worked OK. I then made a plastic cover for the hoop and upholstered it to look like a head rest. I think we got a few requests for shoulder harness installations on older airplanes while we were in business but I don't remember if we did them. We may have sold some of the parts so that owners could do it themselves, but I'm not sure.
If I were to install a shoulder harness on an older airplane, I would probably try to get the same American Safety inertia reel harness that Varga used, if possible, because I like the way it works and fits. The American Safety part numbers are in the Parts Manual. If I couldn't get a pair of those, almost any good "Y-type" harness and belt assembly available from most aircraft supply houses that have long enough harness straps to fit the back seat will work. I would reinforce the aft fuselage attach point with aircraft aluminum angle similar to the way I did it on the production airplanes. For the front seat, I would just make a hoop that could be welded or bolted to the vertical front seat attachment tubes and attach the harness to the hoop or to the back of the seat. If you follow the guidelines if AC43, you (hopefully) shouldn't have too much trouble getting FAA approval for this type of installation.
In August of 1987, just before I went to work for them, Montanair had former NASA test pilot, Jim Patton, evaluate the flight characteristics of the Model 2180TG that they owned (Loren Perry owns it now). I have a copy of that flight test report and I hope that Jim and the people at Montanair don't mind if I reprint it here for you.
QUALITATIVE FLIGHT EVALUATION
VARGA KACHINA 180 HP TD
August 11, 1987
WHAT'S NEXT: Landing gear Maintenance Item #18 and maybe Exhaust system Maintenance Item #19, a discussion about the Varga CG range and how it affects elevator trim and information about one or more of the FAA 337's that have been given to me for distribution to you. I also have some information about a LoPresti model 2150A nose cowl STC that was installed on one aircraft and is reported to give an extra 10 mph.