VG-21 Squadron


31 DECEMBER 1998




ISSUE # 37


Although I mentioned this problem in a previous newsletter, the FAA has made the information an official document and I got the following bulletin from Doc Adams on October 9.


DATE April 23, 1998 AIRCRAFT CERTIFICATION SERVICE 800 INDEPENDENCE AVENUE, S.W. WASHINGTON, DC 20591 PUBLISHED BY FAA, AFS-610, P.O. BOX 26460, OKLA. CITY, OK 73125 THIS IS ISSUED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ANY RECOMMENDATION FOR CORRECTIVE ACTION IS NOT MANDATORY. Introduction The purpose of this Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) is to advise owners/operators of Augustair, Inc. (formerly Varga, Shinn, Morrisey, and Montanair) models 2150, 2150A and 2180 of a possible fuel mismanagement situation. This information is valuable to anyone who operates one of the above listed airplanes because of the possibility of fuel exhaustion especially when conducting maximum range/endurance flight. The SAIB is advisory in nature and not mandated by regulation. Background This SAIB is prompted by reports of near total fuel exhaustion. This situation can occur when the airplane is flown after having been parked on a sloping ramp with one wing lower than the other and both fuel valves in the "on" position. The fuel will drain from the high wing to the low wing and may begin to siphon overboard when the fuel reaches the level of the vent outlet. Fuel can reach the level of the vent outlet during refueling if the tank is filled to a point above the vent outlet or the airplane is refueled when the fuel is cool and the fuel expands to the vent outlet as the fuel temperature rises with the outside temperature. Fuel siphoning, once begun, will continue until the fuel is drained below the level of the vent outlet, fuel pressure in the tank builds up too much to allow venting, the aircraft is moved to a level surface or at least one of the fuel valves is closed and a tank cap is loosened to relieve the pressure. Fuel loss may range from a fraction of a gallon to several gallons, depending on the circumstances. In addition to the loss of fuel, this condition presents a fire hazard. Recommendation The FAA is recommending, but not requiring the following: a. Operators should ensure that a thorough preflight inspection is conducted prior to flight, including a physical verification of the fuel quantity. This alone will alleviate the possibility of operating the airplane with an insufficient/unknown fuel quantity. b. Ensure that both fuel valves are in the correct position (off/on) prior to takeoff. c. Ensure that both fuel valves are placed in the "off" position when the airplane is parked. This will prevent the initiation of fuel siphoning even on a sloping ramp. These measures are common sense but some operators are either unaware or are not utilizing them. For Further Information Contact: Jerry Robinette, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Atlanta Aircraft Certification Office, 1895 Phoenix Boulevard, One Crown Center, Suite 450, Atlanta, Georgia 30349; telephone: (770) 703-6096; facsimile: (770) 703-6097.

For those who can, I hope you have all had a chance to look at Shinn owner, Tom Herr's, Varga web site.

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"Doc" Adams has also created a great new Varga/Shinn/Morrisey web site so be sure and stop by and "Log in" there when you can. I don't know how he did them so well or how he can afford to give them away for free on the Internet, but Doc has also created several Varga models that work with MicroSoft Flight Simulator 98. If you can, download and fly them. They're great!!! ( See )

New member Paul Connolly is looking for a Varga Taildragger. Call him in Hernando, Florida at (352) 726-8505 if you have a lead.

A Varga recently crash landed near a subdivision here in Chandler, Arizona. Even though it is apparently based here at Chandler Municipal Airport, I am not familiar with either the airplane or its' owner. The following excerpts are from an article by Garin Groff from the November 23rd issue of The Chandler Tribune newspaper:

Plane crashes in neighborhood

Pilot, passenger OK after going down in Chandler

Two men walked away unharmed from a Chandler plane crash...

The single engine plane hit the ground about 10 a.m. Sunday after losing power...The pilot touched down on a field but couldn't stop the aircraft, which rammed into a block wall...The troubled flight was the end of a breakfast trip to Payson for pilot Ronald Starling of Tempe and passenger Kevin Kullberg of Mesa,...The plane's engine cut off over Chandler, and the pilot turned on an auxiliary fuel pump. That failed too, and the 1978 Varga continued to sink...Starling said his insurance policy prohibits him from discussing the crash.


Copper State Fly-In : October 8-11 at Williams Gateway Airport, Mesa, Arizona. Lee Beery, Stan Peternel and Rosemary DeAngelo all flew their Vargas over from California. Dave Wells flew down from Deer Valley and Helen Buelen, Bill McIntyre and I all made the long journey from Falcon Field (a five minute flight). Everyone wasn't able to make it there on the same day so, the way it worked out, we had five Vargas there on Friday and four on Saturday. I initially had a row reserved for Vargas but was unable to control where other planes parked so we ended up scattered among two nearby rows. I was happy that Varga owners Jack Adams from Massachusetts and Ed Brannon from Wisconsin were able to fly in on commercial flights to visit family members and us at the airshow. It was pretty warm again this year although perhaps not as hot as last and the general turnout was probably a little better than last year. I always hope for more airplanes but I do want to thank everyone who was able to make it.

Lee Beery suggested that maybe next year we could try to get as many airplanes together as possible and arrange to have a Varga formation fly-by. Let me know what you think.


Link to Vendors / Parts / Service / Tools  

OIL TEMPERATURE GAUGE: I got another taker for at least two more gauges. That makes four buyers for six gauges. Now we only need someone to commit four more gauges and I can place an order.

FLAP HINGES: I forgot to take the NAS40-10 hinge I had to give away at the fly-in but Dave Wells said he needed it so I will give it to him as soon as I see him again.

MUFFLER SPRINGS: I gave the muffler springs that I had at Copperstate to Rosemary DeAngelo. She needed them for this years annual.


He's been such an enthusiast, I was sorry to hear that Bob Stambovsky has his Shinn for sale. Here are the details from Doc Adams web site:

'61 Shinn. 1600 TTAF, 600smoh on strong O-320 160 hp (from Piper Warrior).

KX-125 nav/com w/loc, KY 209 w/gs, MB, enc xpdr, Garmin G3 GPS w/ext ant.

F-15 combat canopy bow mirrors, T-6 type throttle quadrant mod, aerobatic

type harnesses, ext elect plug mod, canopy glass STC, Navy blue paint

w/"MARINES" on tail. Large composite prop spinner. F6F Hellcat stickgrip

w/trigger PTT. Flew to Oshkosh '96. Great flyer

featured on Doc's web site and at

$41k w/checkout and BFR.


Scott Miller has reluctantly put his airplane up for sale and here are the details:

1978 Varga 2150-- 1171 TTAE, NDH Immaculate. Completely detailed and

refurbished interior w/ new tan leather upholstery on seats, dash and

ceiling. New King Radios (Flip-flop digital Nav/com and flip-flop

digital com) installed in black wrinkle reconditioned panel. Original

paint (orange/brown on white) in great shape. No corrosion. Hangered

A&P owned. Annual 10/98. Landing gear fairings recently installed.

This is a great-looking Varga in top condition all around, it's always

been well taken care off. $39,800 OBO. Call Scott Miller at (310)

512-5041 days (310) 832-6375 eves or e-mail at or . I have pictures I

can send electronically as well.


TRADE-A-PLANE, 2nd December Issue, 1998:

Unusually, there were no Varga advertisements in this issue.



Joe Chabel wanted to change his engine to 160 HP and asked what the differences are between a Varga Model 2150A and a Model 2180. As Varga Aircraft's Engineering Manager, I was responsible for the design changes and FAA certification of the model 2180 and I sent a letter to him that included the following information as my best recollection of the events way back in 1980 and '81.

Prop and Spinner: The model 2150A uses a Sensenich 74DM6-0-61 propeller. The model 2180 uses a Sensenich 76EM8-0-60. The spinner for both airplanes is the same as that used on an early Piper Cherokee but was modified on the 2180 to accommodate it's slightly thicker propeller and half inch diameter prop bolts.

Nose Cowl: The fiberglass nose bowl was widened about 2 inches on the model 2180 to accommodate the wider Lycoming O-360 engine. The fiberglass chin scoop was also redesigned on the 2180 because the carburetor is deeper and mounted farther forward on the engine. The rest of the 2180 cowl is basically the same construction as the model 2150A.

Engine: As mentioned above, the 180hp Lycoming was wider and new engine baffles were made for the 2180 to accommodate the change in engine width. The oil cooler air inlet hose size was also increased for better oil cooling on the bigger engine.

Engine Mount/Nose Gear: The 180hp engine that we used on the 2180 required a change to a "dynafocal" engine mount. Structural certification for this mount was done by stress analysis. The 150hp engine mount uses "straight" conical rubber pads and the mount was originally designed for 6g aerobatic certification. Although the airplane was only certified for the 3.8g normal category, the engine mount is more than strong enough for 160hp.

Since the 2180 prop is 2" longer (1" larger radius) and the engine is heavier we wanted to be sure it would always have adequate ground clearance so we installed the main wheel spring assembly in the nose gear.

Accessories: A larger, 9 plate, oil cooler was installed along with larger ducting on the 2180 for better oil cooling.

Airframe: No modifications to the airframe were required.

Fuel System: Fuel flow tests showed that the 2150A fuel system was more than adequate for the increased fuel flow required by the 180hp engine. The only fuel system change that was made was to remove the forward fuel line to the wing fuel tanks. It was discovered that the additional fuel line would allow the aft fuel line to draw air at low fuel levels during the "best glide angle" fuel flow test so the forward line was removed on the model 2180 only.

Except for the removed fuel line, all of the changes made to the model 2180 were forward of the firewall. Flight testing on the 2180 was required due to changes engine/prop combination for cooling and fuel flow and aerodynamic changes to the engine cowl.

In an effort to prove the airplane "characteristically incapable of spins" and remove a prohibition against spins we also did an aerobatic stall/spin series. The aerobatic spin tests were not successful and we didn't have the time or money to make the necessary modifications to pass the aerobatic test. We completed and passed the spin series with the normal category spin test and the spin prohibition remains.

When they increase horsepower, some aircraft manufacurers also change the gross weight, CG or airspeed limitations. We did not do that. We intentionally kept all airspeed and flight limitations on the model 2180 the same as the model 2150A to keep flight and load testing to a minimum. The only weight change on the model 2180 was an increase in the empty weight and we just chose to leave it that way and accept a loss of useful load.

Even though the airplane might be capable of higher airspeeds, we just kept the same airspeed markings. This leaves it up to the pilot to fly the airplane within it's design limitations.

Assuming that none of the flight limitations are changed, increasing horsepower from 150 to 160 without changing the engine and prop combination is significantly simpler than the changes we made to the Varga model 2180. There are no aerodynamic or weight changes so flight tests are not required for that. Fuel consumption is not increased significantly if at all, so fuel flow test are not required. As a matter of fact, fuel consumption on my airplane appears to have gone down since I did this conversion on my airplane.

Aside from some increase and climb rate and airspeed, the only change that you will see that concerns flight limitations is a slight increase in static RPM. The full throttle static RPM limit is between 2200 and 2400 and most tested at about 2300 at the factory so you should have plenty of leeway without increasing the pitch of the prop.

In addition, since there is no change in the propeller length or change in the engine weight, you don't need the extra spring in the nose gear that we put in the Model 2180.

By the way, with the higher compression ratio, I've also had significantly less plug fouling with the 100 octane low lead is the only available fuel here at Falcon Field.



Bob Thornton is reassembling a Varga that has a badly damaged exhaust system. He sent the manifolds and mufflers to Dawley Aviation but they said the damage was so bad that they didn't know, without drawings, how to reassemble it properly. Other than the parts on my airplane, I don't have any exhaust system design data. If you do or can help Bob in some other way, please call him in Vinita, Oklahoma at (918) 256-7708. Unless Loren Perry is willing to sell parts or copies of drawings, I don't know what else to do.


I got an e-mail from Mike Zimniski about his airplane recently developing an elevator trim problem. He said enough that, although I've done some editing, it's easier to reprint most of his letter than to try and paraphrase what he said.

Mr. Bishop have a question regarding my Varga trim 1979 N8299J TT605 hrs. I have read the 3 articles on trim and they were helpful. In the past I have never had to move the trim crank handle much outside of the green arc (30degrees??) to adjust for level flight with or without a large passenger in the aft seat. The elevator trim tab has been in the 45 degree up position since I have owned the Varga (1990). Suddenly I have a problem obtaining nose down trim. I have moved the elevator trim tab to nearly the full down position and the trim crank requires 270 degrees of movement (from vertical) to get even close to level flight at 2450 RPM. At the last annual in May 98 the mechanic said that the engine mount bushings may need replaced at the next annual. It hard to tell if there is any sag in the engine at this point but I thought that with the P factor this would give more nose down. Could the old engine mount bushing cause this much of a trim change that suddenly? While I got the parts in June to change the bushings, I wanted to wait to the next annual to do. I have a large GM window crank that I will put on in the next several days but am able to adjust the trim with the old one but it takes a lot more range of movement to do it.

THANKS for any comment

Michael M Zimniski

I told Mike that in my past conversations with them, Carl Sigg and Dave Miner said they noticed improvements after changing their engine mount bushings. Have any of you had a similar experience?


I got a call from Goerge Varga who says he still has 10-20 Delco D925-1464 starter solenoids left from his Varga inventory. Call him if you need one.

I got a letter from Bill Merkin, who recently bought Cleve Murdock's airplane, about his solenoid problems. Bill also included a letter to him from Cleve about the what he did to fix solenoid problems when he had the plane. Rather than paraphrase what they said, I thought it would be good just to reprint both letters.

























Bill Merkin

(Letter from Cleve Murdock to Bill Merkin)

Dear Bill,

Thanks much for the photos. I

just got the latest VG-21 newsletter

and noted that Tom Buckel of Elgin, IL

was looking for solenoids. When I looked

for solenoids I was unable to find the exact

part no. for the starter solenoid ( Delco D925-1464)

so I used a generic 112225-5 from Wag Aero

($28.95). However I did find the exact

part no. ( Essex 70-111224-5) for the battery

solenoid. UNIVAIR [1-(888)-433-5433]

has a supply of these solenoids because they

supply Swift owners with parts

and that solenoid just happened to be used on

the Swift also! It was also cheap, about

$17.00, as I recall.

Please pass this info on to Max Bishop.

You might also warn of getting 'brand new'

corroded solenoids from Wag Aero!

Hope you have good luck with the Varga.


PERSONAL NOTES: A personal history of Varga Aircraft.

In 1974 I was attending what should have been my Senior year at Arizona State University when an instructor told me that there was a posting on the bulletin board for a temporary Christmas break drafting job. Although I know most people think it is always warm in Arizona, the 25 mile ride to the job interview from south Phoenix to Varga Aircraft in Chandler was very cold and by the time I got there, I had decided not to take the job. Mr. Varga understood, gave me a tour of the infant factory and told me that, if I wanted, I might be able to come back at the end of the semester for a summer job.

The Varga factory was a 125' x 128' metal building with a 30' x 75' block office area at the front. It was located at the southwest end of the Chandler Municipal airport runway. About a fourth of the hanger and about half of the office space was taken up by Mr. Varga's primary business, Powerplant Supply Company. It was the success of this aircraft supply and surplus parts business that made it possible for Mr. Varga set up the factory and finance early aircraft production.

Anyway, when school got out at the end of May in 1975, I went back to Varga Aircraft for summer work. Although Mr. Varga would pay me only $2.50 an hour, he told me that if I took the job, he would teach me to fly. I took the job.

When I started work, they were just finishing their second airplane for delivery to a customer. I think it was a man named Ernie Moser. Varga also owned a Shinn that they had refurbished to use as a sample part to help them assemble the first Varga Kachina (N5062V which now belongs to Pat and Lee Beery). At the time there were only a handful of people to do the work. Mr. Varga and his son George III were the salesmen and also bought all of the parts and raw materials for the airplane while simultaneously running their surplus parts and supply business. Powerplant Supply Company also had a secretary and a parts clerk who also sometimes did double duty for both companies. An old fella named Al Wilson was responsible for making all the manufactured airplane parts and ensuring that they were assembled properly. Three of the people that I remember who worked in the assembly area at the time were Howard Athey, Ivan Smith and Jim Siddons. Howard mostly assembled the wings and Ivan and Jim assembled the rest of the airplane. We also had an invaluable part time toolmaker and fabricator named Everett Miller There was a welder, a machinist and a few other fabricators and assembly workers but it's been so long, I don't remember their names. I was the only draftsman. At first, most of my work was helping Al Wilson update and create drawings and engineering orders. Engineering work was done by a consultant named Dave Chelgrin who I worked with mostly on Saturdays and occasional evenings. Both an FAA Manufacturing Representative and an FAA Flight Test Pilot were required to inspect and test each airplane prior to delivery of every airplane so Dave would also come in whenever the FAA would come to review design data or to sign off an airplane.

Other than as pilots and parts vendors, neither Mr. Varga or his son George had any experience with the manufacture of small airplanes. Al Wilson had extensive experience with the fabrication and design of aircraft parts and tooling as a long time employee of Goodyear Aircraft (Aerospace?) and other sheet metal product manufacturers and, in my opinion, the Varga couldn't have been built without him.

As small airplanes go, the Varga is fairly complicated and expensive to build. Compared to a Grumman Trainer (TR-2), which has about 700 fabricated parts, the Varga has about 2000. In 1975 and early 1976, with so few people and with so little experience, it probably took more than 2000 man hours and many weeks to build each airplane.

At the time, it was probably just as well that Mr. Varga was such an optimist and didn't really understand how difficult it would be to continue. He might not have kept going for as long as he did but, in hindsight, I think he never really gave up on the idea that we could build a successful airplane company.

(May be continued...)