VG-21 Squadron


January 2001




ISSUE # 43


The best news (for me anyway) is that my airplane is flying again. Only needs paint. I called Don Copeland at Arizona Aeropainting for a new paint job and he said that he was booked up for over a year. We'll get on his waiting list and, in the meantime, it will be polished (or semi-polished as time and energy allow). I was surprised, but not shocked, at how much a new paint job costs. Don wants $9,600 to $10,000 for a painted Varga (OUCH!) or about 2/3 of that if you strip it yourself (we have. ouch!).

Although the cost of the paint was bad news, some good news is that, during the rebuild process, partner Doug was infected with the same airplane building virus that I have and we are already well into our second project airplane. We had most of an airplane left over from the wreck that Doug bought for spare parts to be used on N2103Z so I got a new registration number (N6220X) for another experimental airplane that will be called an AeroSpec 3150.

I must apologize for not getting this issue out much, much sooner. I promised you guys 4 issues a year and, at only one issue in July, I am obviously way behind. I probably don't feel as bad about it as I should though because some of you who have email have been keeping me pretty busy. I've probably answered 50 or 60 emails since the last newsletter and although most have been simple questions and answers, some have required quite a bit of time to scan and email requested photos and design data.

Howard Hall owns a Varga 2150A in the United Kingdom that was formerly registered as N4626V here in the United States. He says he also has a 50 hour damaged Varga airframe that he bought for spares. Lucky guy.

Gus Mihlebach of Williamstown, New Jersey, now owns what was formerly Dick Mackey's airplane, N8275J. His email address wasn't quite legible but his phone is (856) 262-8594 if you are in the area and want to say "Hi".

Richard Axelrod and Scott Legendre are now the owners of N4644V. They are at the Caledonia Flying Club, 135 Liberty Road, Danville, Vermont 05828 if you want to welcome them and say Hi. Richard asked about best glide speed for the Varga. I told him that I only knew the best rate of climb to be 78 mph from original flight test data. I always assumed that, although I know best climb and glide speeds are different on some planes, the best climb and glide speeds are about the same on the Varga. I do know that if you use an approach speed of about 80 with the flaps up, if you haven't reduced your speed much when you flare, you will float and float and float...


Although he hasn't updated it in a while, I'm glad Tom Herr still has his Varga web site up at  Thanks, Tom.

I am also thinking of making this newsletter available only on the Internet, either by web site or by email. Almost all new Varga owners include an email address with their personal information. I've been thinking about it for a while and it seems like now might be an appropriate time to make the change. I'd appreciate comments from those of you who do not have computers.


Please let me know if you know of, or wish to plan, an event that would be of interest to Varga owners.

Dr. Jack Shuler says he is willing to plan and shepherd a 'caravan' type Varga fly-in to Oshkosh in 2002. His comment was "If we start a full year ahead, I figure we can get space to have a "Varga row" at OSH. And I can push hard enough to stage at Fon-Du-Lac and come as a group."

I have agreed to go. If any of you are interested in such an adventure, please contact Jack at:

Dr. Jack Shuler

30 Litchfield Road

Londonderry, New Hampshire 03053

email: doc@empire. net

Home phone: (603) 434-6683

Work phone: (603) 434-0044



Link to Vendors / Parts / Service / Tools  


Bill McIntyre (480) 962-1373

1979 Varga 2150A

1086 TTSN November 2000 annual


King KR86 ADF

Audio Panel

NDH $39,900


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. Beery VG-21 Newsletters: $10 covers most of the printing and mailing costs for all issues. Old Bishop VG-21 Newsletters: $1.00 per issue (includes postage).

For those of you who don't know, I am the former Varga Aircraft Corporation engineering manager (1975-1982) and may be able to help you with a problem. I can be reached at:

Max Bishop

2062 West Gila

Chandler, Arizona 85224

(602)786-3578 (evenings)

(602)891-6152 (days)

e-mail:  or

You may also be able to find me at hanger A9 or hanger RR2 at Falcon Field in Mesa.


Ralph Haven of Daytona Beach, Florida is considering the installation of the Morrisey Bravo fuel vent system on his Varga. He is also looking into the installation of an electric propeller and said he would keep me posted on his progress.

Everett Laird is the new owner of model 2150A N8267J. He asked the usual new owner question about the lack of nose down. My answer is still, even though I know it feels like you've hit a stop when you try to turn the trim crank, "turn the crank a little harder". I also know that many people have added shims to the forward elevator attach bolts, which appears to work fine but the truth is that, if the elevator travel is correctly adjusted to 16 degrees up and 18 degrees down, I never flew a Varga that I couldn't trim.

The Varga has a CG range of 10.4" to 17.5" aft of the datum line of the airplane, which is the wing leading edge. This is the same CG range as the original Morrisey which had it's fuel tank under the instrument cowl and almost no paint or upholstery. In the Shinn 2150A, the fuel tanks were in the wings but again, the standard airplane included a minimum of upholstery and the planes went out the door with polished skins and only a stripe decal along the side. Varga never delivered an airplane that wasn't painted and all of it's planes had carpet and upholstery including a head liner. Most Vargas also had more instrument and equipment options than any Morrisey or Shinn ever had.

The reason that I go through all this history is that, almost every change that was made to the airplane, moved, not just the CG but the whole CG range, closer to its aft limit. First the fuel tank (at 6 lb. per gallon) was moved from ahead of the CG to behind the CG, the added paint added 17 to 20 pounds of weight to the whole airplane but, if you think about it, you can see that most of the surface area of the plane is also aft of the CG. The same goes for the carpet and upholstery. While with full fuel and only a pilot the original Morrisey might have been loaded close to the 10.4" most foward CG limit, the most forward CG on a Varga, with only a pilot and no fuel, would have probably be about 11.6 to 11.7". Unless he overloads the baggage compartment, the Morrisey pilot will never see the most aft CG limit of 17.5" and, on the other hand, the Varga pilot will surely never see a most foward CG limit of 10.4". In my experience,the only time a Varga pilot will use nose up trim is likely to be when he is by himself, has no baggage in the back and running low on gas.

The problem is that, even though the plane's trim system was designed for a larger CG range, and, by design, must be capable of trimming the airplane over that whole range, the Varga flyer is only trimming in the range from a little nose up to a lot of nose down.

Those who shim their elevators to make the trim crank easier to turn are actually redesigning the airplane to make it fly better in that more aft CG range. This might make it impossible for the airplane to meet FAA trim require-ments at the most forward CG limit of 10.4" but that probably doesn't matter much since you can't load a model Varga 2150A that far forward under normal circumstances anyway.

The solution I have found is to move the engine forward 2" or 3" like I did on the airplane I did in Montana and will do on project airplane N6220X. It is doubtful though, that anybody wants to pay as much as that solution might cost for a certified Varga.


In the event that someone needs it, I am now in the possession of Rolf Lehman's engine mount weld fixture. I got it from Bob Thornton, who said he still needs to use it, but kindly let me borrow it so I could build the engine mount for our next project airplane. Thank you Rolf and Bob.

I got a call from Magnon Aircraft of Petaluma, California asking about how to repair a Varga shimmy dampener. After I described the repair, I was told that Magnon has maintained and repaired several Vargas over the years and would welcome your business. I don't know anything about the quality or cost of their work but their phone is (707) 765-1848 if you think they can help you.

In an email, Ralph Havens mentioned that, if you change the senders, some Piper gauges might work in a Varga. I'm waiting for Ralph to get back to me and fill in the details.

Mr. Peter Eigenburger and a friend are rebuilding a model 2180 in Switzerland. I have spent a considerable amount of time copying, scanning and emailing design information to him so that he can rebuild the engine mount nose cowl and landing gear. Since I can scan only parts of drawings at a time on my 8 1/2" x 14" scanner, I ended up with lots of graphic files that need to be put together like a puzzle, but this was the best way I knew to get the information to Switzerland quickly. We also saved the cost of postage for what it's worth. Anyway, if you need any of this kind of information for the repair of your plane, let me know as I can now email it more easily since it is already scanned and ready to go.

I did have to make a new drawing of the cast aluminum steering yoke for Peter so he could machine it out of billet and have included it in this issue.

Bob Marshall's schematic of the fuel level and oil temperature gauge repair has come in handy for a couple of Varga owners. Thanks again, Bob. Bob has a taildragger Varga and wants to change his tail wheel assembly to a lighter model to reduce his too far aft CG problem and asked if I knew anything about doing that. The Scott model 3400 tailwheel used on the Varga was probably overkill so I suspect other tailwheels will work fine but don't know for sure. If any of you can help Bob, please email him at I'm sure he'll appreciate any words of wisdom that you might have.

I got an email from Tommy Redmon who now owns model 2150A N5063V. He was having trouble carb air duct inlet problems on the second airplane built by Varga which had a different air filter inlet and mounting design. I have a duct assembly from the second airplane that we are building and was able to make a quick (& crude) sketch of the later model duct assembly so he could build one if he wants. I have included a copy of the air duct sketch in this issue.

Tommy also had a problem with an occasional loud noise in the right wing area in light turbulance and on approach. Having experienced the problem on at least one other airplane, I told Tommy to lubricate his landing gear. He did and says that the noise went away. If not lubricated regularly, the gear will stick in the position that they left the ground in and with a little "g" force in flight, will loudly "bang" to their fully extended position. As I told Tommy, not a serious problem but very disconcerting if you don't know what happened.

I have also included drawings of the last 2 wing station airfoil offsets, torque links and dimensioned cross section sketches of the stub wing spars in case someone might need them for wing repairs.

PERSONAL NOTES: A personal history of Varga Aircraft (continued).

I left off with this little serial at the end of 1980 but I forgot to mention an attempt to sell the company to one of Mr. Vargas friends in late 1978 or early 1979. The deal was supposed to be an exchange of Varga stock for an exchange for the stock from another company that would ultimately control Varga Aircraft. Although the arrange-ment fell through because the exchange rate was much too low for Mr. Varga to accept, everybody parted friends and both companies went their separate ways.

While looking through my accumulated paperwork in trying to remember what transpired 20 years ago, I found a brochure that listed Varga prices as follows:

August 1, 1980: Basic Price:

2150A & 2150ATG = $26,750

2180 & 2180TG = $30,500

These prices didn't include any options of course but I think about $10,000 was the norm which would have put the 2150's at about $37,000 out the door and the 2180's at about $41,000.

Unfortunately, we didn't even have the Model 2180's or taildraggers certified for production at the time we listed those prices. We didn't finish flight testing our first production model 2180 until early in 1981. My notes say that the 2180 Airspeed calibration test was completed in late October of 1980 and the Type Inspection Authorization was issued by the FAA on Novemer 5, 1980. The taildragger airplane would not be certified by the FAA until March of 1982. The borrowed prototype model 2180 that was converted from a model 2150A was returned to its owner when we were done using it for testing.

Somewhere near the end of 1980 or early 1981, Mr. Varga negotiated the sale of the majority of Varga Aircraft's assets to a new partner.

Although, in my estimation at the time, the new partner wouldn't have enough money to turn us around and I was pretty discouraged by that, the extra cash flow did make a significant difference at first. Until that time I had always worn two hats as the Quality Control Manager and Acting Engineering Manager. To me this was too much work to

do either job as well as it needed to be done and to the FAA it was somewhat of a conflict of interest and came to be unacceptable.

With the new partner, we were able to hire a full time Quality Control Manager, Dick Kenney, who had lots of QC and production experience. Dick came highly recommended by the FAA which made a big improvement in our relationship with them. Dick also immediately began to reorganize things and unburden my time so I could devote it to keeping up with the engineering work that I was distracted from by my QC duties. Although sales were slow due to the premature announcement of the model 2180, we started to make a lot of progress in improving our production processes.

In August of 1980 we submitted the model 2180 Engine Mount and Forward Fuselage Truss Stress Analysis.

October saw the completion of the factory Model 2180 Unusable Fuel Test and, using a borrowed FAA airspeed/pitot system boom, we completed also the airspeed calibration test.

In November the FAA issued Model 2180 Type Inspection Authorization which allowed FAA inspectors to review the new design data and the FAA test pilot to fly the airplane as soon as the inspectors determined that the aircraft conformed to the type design data that we had submitted.

After months of writing, drawing, typing and editing we finally completed our Maintenance Manual in December of 1980.

In June of 1981, we contracted consultant Mario Trenti for a second time to help us with an expansion plan to help organize an increase in production. Unfortunately, his advice was ignored this time too.

As usually happens, costs had gone up and by August we had a new Basic Price List:

August 1, 1981: Basic Price:

2150A & 2150ATG = $30,490

2180 & 2180TG = $34,250

In September, we got the Type Inspection Authorization allowing FAA inspection and test of the model 2180 fuel system to verify unusable fuel quantities.

In December of 1981, Specialized Testing Service sent us a report showing vibration test results from the design changes that we made to the elevator horn and balance arm assembly that would eliminate the Airworthiness Directive against that part. On Varga's behalf, Consulting engineer, Harold Dale sent the Static Test Report to the FAA to tell them how we would load test this elevator horn and balance arm assembly for approval. That month, Harold also sent a letter to the FAA for Taildragger Master Drawing List changes that would help us put the taildragger in production.

Just before Christmas of '81, I sent a model 2180TG and Larger Rudder certification schedule to Harold Dale for review.

In January of 1982, Harold submitted the Varga Elevator Horn and Mass Balance Weight Static Test Report which contained the test results to the FAA for approval. By February, I had completed the testing on the larger rudder for the taildragger and sent the test results to Harold.

The Model 2180TG Weight and Balance and Equipment List was completed and submitted for approval in March and shortly after this submittal we received the Supplemental Type Certificate (SA4412NM). The Model 2150ATG STC (SA4309WE) was OK'd by the FAA in April.

Varga sent everyone home and closed it's doors in June of 1982. My memory of that last day was when George called us all together on the factory floor. He told us that the IRS had just been to the bank and had taken all of Varga's remaining money. Since he couldn't pay us for the week, we all may as well go home. Most of us met again the next day on the unemployment line.