Corvair Pietenpol

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Beautifully built, the Chapter 1279 Pietenpol is a fine example of the breed. The powder coated, but apparently no longer available “Air Camper” valve covers are a real standout.
Beautifully built, the Chapter 1279 Pietenpol is a fine example of the breed. The powder coated, but apparently no longer available “Air Camper” valve covers are a real standout.

There’s not a lot “alternative” about a Pietenpol Air Camper with a Corvair engine in it these days. In fact, it’s probably been the norm for this time-honored airframe for a while. But it is an auto conversion, as was the original Model A Ford mill spec’ed in the plans, so the gorgeous example on the French Valley ramp during the Alternative Engine Conference fit right in.

Built as a chapter project by EAA Chapter 1279 and completed in 2012, the Piet is now owned by two 1279 members, Peter Griffiths and Steve Williamson. And yes, the Piet didn’t have to taxi far to attend the AEC, but it’s done most of the trip to Oshkosh, so don’t think it doesn’t fly.

This is probably B-747 instrumentation in a Pientenpol, but it sure looks good. The workmanship on the Ch. 1279 Air Camper is exceptional.
This is probably B-747 instrumentation in a Pientenpol, but it sure looks good. The workmanship on the Ch. 1279 Air Camper is exceptional.

The Corvair installation is from a ’65 and uses a William Wynne conversion that Griffiths and Williamson are quite happy with. Originally fitted with a Stromberg automotive carburetor, the pair discovered the lack of mixture adjustment and accelerator pump was a dangerous impediment at high altitude airports and have since upgraded to an MA-3 carb. Far better now, although Williamson said if all you did was poke around the local area at sunset you could probably get away with the stocker.

The Corvair offers plenty of power in the light, all-wood Pietenpol. Using a 66 x 32 Culver Prop the direct drive combination turns 2900 rpm.

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Pumping avgas and waxing flight school airplanes got Tom into general aviation in 1973, but the lure of racing cars and motorcycles sent him down a motor journalism career heavy on engines and racing. Today he still writes for peanuts and flies for fun.

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