2004 KR Gathering at Mount Vernon, Illinois (MVN)

2004 KR Gathering at Mount Vernon, Illinois (MVN)

I arrived late on Thursday to find people crawling all over William Clapps new Corvair powered KR2S. He has a bunch of innovations to show off, and an excellent finish. I guess it helps to be a paint and body man by profession!

I think there was something like 8 KRs here at bedtime Thursday night, which is definitely a record. We keep starting this thing earlier every year just so us addicts can get enough.

Larry Flesner, this year's host, had arranged for a constant diet of informative forums in one of the many conference rooms at MVN, including engines, weight and balance, new airfoil, misc. modifications, etc.

Willy Wilson, the Scottish KR builder/pilot from the UK, was the warmup act for several of them. He's always got a quick joke to pull from his colorful career as a 747-400 pilot for British Airways.

Ken Thomas from Jasper Alabama pulled his usual trick of showing up just long enough for everybody to catch a glimpse of his plane, and then disappear. The most I've seen of this plane at the last few Gatherings was watching it taxi out for takeoff, but this time I managed to catch it still long enough for a couple of pictures, but unfortunately didn't get any of his Jabiru engine that was hiding under the cowling. Anybody that got some is welcome to send them to me to include below. Note the clear plexiglass inlet scoop in the pilot's side airduct, designed to take advantage of prop direction.

Here's the full view. This plane started out with a Subaru. Ken tested several carb setups with it, but eventually replaced it with the Jabiru.

Ken's unique door limiter mechanism.

Marty Roberts arrived in the usual fashion (screaming across the runway, quick pullup and and sideways bank over the crowd). We were all saddened to hear that he'd sold the plane to a Russian guy, sight unseen. There was a container waiting in Tulsa, and the plane was going in it and across the ocean just as soon as he got back from the Gathering. If you missed this Gathering, you'll never see this plane again!

This is Bill Clapp's KR2S interior.

Bottom view of Bill's 2700cc 6 cylinder Corvair engine.

No, his prop's not bent...it's a Prince "P-tip".

It doesn't get much cleaner than this. Note bent dipstick tube, which allows checking the oil through the cowling air inlet hole.

Here's his "aerodynamic balance" on the elevator, the tab at the end the projects forward. It's also the "static balance", presumably holding lead as far forward as possible to balance the elevators against flutter.

If you don't have a compass correction card in your plane, your DAR (designated airworthiness inspector) will insist on one. It doesn't have to be filled out yet, if you haven't been able to get to the compass rosette at the airport.

Bill gave lots of rides this year...

...including me! This KR just blew my mind as to how stable it is. It flew hands off. You could put it in a turn and release the stick and it would gently return to straight ahead, without any deviation in pitch. I suspect it would continue straight on until it ran out of fuel and the engine quit. The trim adjustment required from 80 to 175 mph, full fuel to empty, is a minimal deflection of the trim tab, according to Bill. Since this plane is almost identical to mine (except for the aerodynamic elevator balance and my engine is bigger), I now know how nice mine is going to fly!

This is Bill's belly flap speed brake setup. More on that later

Bill's engine is a 2700cc Corvair engine, built using William Wynne's conversion manual as a guide. At the RPM he turns it, it does an easy 110 horsepower, which is the same as the original rating in the car, but using a different cam to lower the powerband.

Here you see Bill Clapp's wingtips removed, exposing the two 4" diameter PVC wing tanks. I think he said they hold about 5 gallons each. He also has a 13 gallon header tank inside, which is the only one with a gauge.

Aircooled VW fanatics will recognize Bill's air brake handle as a VW parking brake lever, welded to a torque tube.

The white paint was only 30 bucks a gallon, with a layer of gold and then red sprayed on the highlighted areas.

It drew quite a crowd, and won several awards before the Gathering was over.

Here's Jeff Duval's interior. Those who came to the ill fated Columbia "East Coast Gathering" in 1998 will remember that this is the only one that made it, although it had orange trim back then.

Jeff's Culver prop is a work of art and was pretty inexpensive. It was CNC machined, and the lead time was only a few days. He loves it.

Joe Weber from Wisconsin flew in with only about 80 hours on the clock (he's on the right).

Richard Shirley showed up again in his incredibly immaculate KR1. He flew in with Steve Glover.

Jim Faughn's plane always draws a crowd too.

There were four KRs that were trailered in this year. This one was a fixer-upper for sale.

Terry Chizak flew in from Kansas, as usual. I think he's still working on a KR2S too.

N4DD made it again. Rick Lanning bought it recently and I'm happy to see that he's interested enough to bring it back to the Gatherings!

Steve Bennett's KR1.5, originally built by Ken Cottle.

Steve Glover's award winning KR2. The workmanship was outstanding.

KRnetHeads might remember Ken Jones bragging that he was going to take "ugliest KR" award with this entry, the Porkoplis Pig. He was sadly mistaken, however...

No matter how ugly it is, there's always a good idea or two for the rest of us. Rather than leaving a gap all the way around the wing to worry about filling, this one filled it all in except where it needs to be, and the well is even closed out so you can't loose the nuts or washers. I wish I'd thought of this.

He even named it so we'd know which one was his.

Even though he didn't win "Ugliest", he was still a good sport about it. To be fair, his is a work in progress, and at least he FLEW his in, which is more than most of us can say!

Tommy Waymack flew in from Pine Bluff, with his new 2180 VW engine and fairly new paint scheme.

Tommy Waymack's engine installation.

Larry Flesner had a lot to talk about with his "YeeeeeeeeeeeeeeHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Special", but didn't have much time to fly it...

... because he was too busy running the show. Here he's doing the weight and balance forum.

Here's another "trailer job". The owner has recently bought it and brought it for some opinions on where to start, and what needed to be redone.

John Backer brought these completed wheel pants to show how to install them. He brought me a very nice set of carbon fiber pants, so I'll be needing this picture.

Larry had all the meals catered, including Friday night. Here we are waiting for the night's entertainment, and dinner.

Entertainment was provided by Jim Faughn (as always) with assistance. These guys were excellent!

Here's another great idea from Larry, a map of the US to show where attendees came from. By the time it was over, almost all the states were accounted for, and at least two "foreign" countries (Canada and England).

"After hours forums" were a continuation of the information (and BS) swapping that went on at the real forums. It was not to be missed!

Backup battery installation on Larry's plane.

Jim Faughn took Dan Heath out for some one-on-one stick time in preparation for his first flight. I was lucky enough to get in on that deal myself.

Steve Glover taxis out for a little fun flying. This is one fine looking KR2!

Bill Clapp's KR2S interior, from the inside.

Here's the view on approach. Not a bad view!

Richard Shirley was being careful to make sure everybody saw his engine this time around, and was educating everybody on engine cooling and drag reduction.

He even uses the fins on the bottom of the VW case for cooling (note fiberglass plenum enclosing it). He machined these valve covers from billet, to save a little weight and make them thinner to make the cowling as tight as possible.

Here's the top side of his 2180cc VW engine.

Here's the area behind the seat of his KR1.

Here's Richard's cowling interface behind the spinner. It's totally enclosed and sealed with rubber to keep air from exiting the cowling around the base of the spinner, which reduces drag.

Mark Jones reads exhaust temps direct from Jim Faughn's headers with the engine running, while John Boyeau hangs onto the tail.

Wicks Aircraft, based in nearby St. Louis, flew over in their new Sting XS turnkey Sport Pilot plane. It was a work of composite art.

It had a lot of neat ideas, including this cockpit ventilation idea.

Joe Weber's clean KR2S.

Joe's interior.

Although there were planes to look at, and rides to be had, the most important thing to be done at the Gathering was the transfer of information from those who'd done it to those who were getting ready to do it. That's why the Gathering is so vital to builders and future KR pilots. I have to say that no matter what your budget, there's a way to make it to the Gathering if you live in the US, especially considering the camping option.

Jim Faughn's engine.

Troy Petteway finds a kindred spirit in Richard Shirley.

This is Troy's interior. Note that his panel uses all 2.25" instruments, and doesn't hang down below the top of the longeron.

Troy's always on the hunt for the ultimate tailwheel. Note that he has no springs on his, but does have some slack in the tailwheel control cable (although you can't see it in this shot because the slack is on the other side.)

Troy has a lot to be proud of!

Fireshields on Richard Shirley's KR1.

Cable controlled cowl flap on Richard Shirley's KR1.

Larry's KR2 with extended gear didn't see much action during the Gathering, but it's racking up the hours now!

Here's Larry's very clean instrument panel.

David Roe's incredible Hummelbird also made an appearance. This engine is a one-of-a-kind VW with a super short stroke, turning high RPMs and a tiny prop. It's very fast, and offers lots of innovations.

I couldn't find anybody that would claim this one, so if you're the owner, please let me know so I can give you credit...

It appeared to have the RAF48 turbulent airfoil.

And it appeared to have been in the making for several years.

Like all KRs, this one was unique. I like the "hood" on this thing. It opens just like a car for full access, using a piano hinge.

Here's one that was for sale in a trailer by the HogAir guy, and it didn't take long to sell. The construction was well underway, and showed excellent workmanship.

It had a unique stick arrangement that solves the goofy geometry of the plans built scheme.

Nice access door.

Here's the inside.

Belly board installed.

I'd be proud of this workmanship. I think his intent was to make this area accessible for maintenance, but I could be wrong.

Next on the agenda was air-to-air KR shots, my favorite part of the Gathering. Larry deliberately hung on to the Tripacer long enough so that Bill could fly me around hanging out the back door to take another batch of excellent photos. Next year somebody needs to bring something we can take a door or a window out of! Mark Jones was riding shotgun, and took this picture for me.

N4DD was the first to come by.

Joe Weber's newly minted KR2S.

John Shaeffer's KR2SS.

Check out his retractable tri-gear.

Bill Clapp's KR2S.

This is all I got out of Tommy Waymack's two high speed strafing runs at the Tripacer. I guess I forgot to tell him to "slow down and stay a while" at the back door of the Tripe!

Jeff Scott's KR2S (almost).

Steve Glover's KR2S.

Troy had a broken hinge that he had to attend to, with Jeff Duval offering moral support.

Steve Glover's leather interior was gorgeous.

Here's Willy "assuming the position" in Steve's KR, ready for a little US KR time.

I was also fortunate enough to get one of those rides, and here's MVN from Steve's KR. This was a great place for a Gathering!

Steve's tailwheel uses no springs either, opting for the "slight slack" method.

Your basic passle of KRs, the most at any Gathering that I know of.

Guenther Bryce, true to his word, trailered in his 0-235 powered KR2.

While his plane was quite innovative, the trailer was pretty interesting too. This thing was a work of art.

Here are some new Rand Robinson products...flap handle, eyeball vent, and canopy latches. They are exquisite pieces manufactured by a KR builder in California.

The Gathering banquet was the scene of another Faughn concert.

And it wouldn't be a Gathering without the "I hate sanding" song.

Steve Bennett (with dust mask) was really getting into it!

It's traditional to make all the pilots get up and sing this. From left to right are: Owen McPherson, Chris Gardiner, Al Friesen, Rick Lanning, Ken Jones, Joe Weber, Jeff Scott, Troy Petteway...

...Richard Shirley, Jeff Duval, Bill Clapp, John Shaeffer, Marty Roberts, somebody help me out with the next guy, Dan Heath, Steve Glover, Willy Wilson, Tommy Waymack, Steve Bennett, and Larry Flesner. That's the most KR pilot's I've ever seen in one place.

As usual, Video Bob got it all for a future video.

I think Richard Shirley and Steve Glover left from the same airport, so there was some confusion over who won the "longest distance flown" award, but I think they BOTH did. They were joking about whose hangar was farthest west, and who turned short at the end of the runway.

Wayne Williams made a pitch for the 2006 Gathering location in Grenada, Misssissippi (since Larry volunteered to do it again next year) and it sounded like another great place for a Gathering.

Wayne kept everybody laughing for quite a while too.

Steve Glover had to rent a U-Haul to carry all his plaques back with him...

...as did Bill Clapp.

The bottom line was:
Richard Shirley and Steve Glover...greatest distance flown
Steve Glover....best interior AND best KR
Bill Clapp...best engine AND people's choice

Terry, Video Bob's video guy, was soaking it all up too.

We sang several songs that Larry Flesner wrote too, one of which was a lament to the wives' of KR builders. I'll try to post it later.

It had a pretty good punch line to it.

Jeannette Rand had a few words of encouragement and thanks for the crowd.

After the hat was passed to take up a collection for next year's Gathering operational expenses, Mark Jones and Jim Faughn applied what Jim called the "KR sacred seal" to the proceeds.

This year's KR Gathering will certainly go down as one of the best. And I believe 19 flying KRs is one for the record books. Next year it'll be at MVN again with Larry hosting. We'll see you then, when several of the "new generation" KR's will be online. That one should be even better!

Mark Langford

Return to KRnet