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Old 03-16-2018, 06:49 AM
vfrazier's Avatar
vfrazier vfrazier is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Mount Vernon, IN
Posts: 1,400
Default We lost a giant: Jim Winings, gone west 3-15-18

Friends, fellow RVers, Rocketeers, and aviation enthusiasts,

It is with great sadness that I report that we lost a true giant from among us yesterday. Jim Winings passed suddenly after visiting another fellow pilot at a nursing home. Jim was found collapsed in the parking lot by another pilot friend.

Jim had a huge impact on the RV community. He was one of the earliest RVers, owning or building 5 RVs,including one F1 Rocket. He started early and never let up. I talked to Jim about a week ago, and his excitement about flying was unchanged from the first time I met him in the late 1980's. Positively contagious is the only way to describe him regarding aviation.

Jim gave dozens, probably hundreds, of us our first RV flight, including me. If he wasn't Van's top salesman, and completely for free, he had to be in the top 3. There were, and are, RVs being built all over the Midwest, all over the country, and all over the world that were a direct result of Jim's boundless enthusiasm for the RVs and for flying.

He was completely selfless about promoting the RV aircraft, particularly the RV-4 and Rocket. Jim was adamant about keeping his planes light. Performance was everything, and handling qualities were everything x 10.

Jim was a mechanical genius in the truest sense. Literally, not 1 in a million people could do what he could do. And he was completely "aw shucks" about it in every sense, giving gentle advice, building parts and pieces, fixing, helping, and generally just going the extra 10 miles... all while making it look as easy and routine as getting a glass of water.

Jim story time... a few years ago, Jim had a new SUV. Jim felt that the steering should be lighter, just like he wanted for his earth moving equipment and his airplanes. Jim modified the power steering to make it lighter, stating " I want to be able to drive that car with ONE finger." I mean, who does that, modifying a brand new vehicle? Jim does.

Same for his airplanes. The modification list would read like a checklist for a B-52... so I won't even try to relay them all here. When Jim was building his F1 Rocket, a magnificent aircraft by any standard, he chided Mark (and me) about how that airplane could be better. And, to no one's surprise, he made it better. Effortlessly. Like it was nothing. Jim's mods to his Rocket, to list just a FEW of them, included: changing his elevator and rudder trailing edges, changing the intermediate bellcrank ratio, modifying the gear legs, designing new rear seat rudder pedals, flap arm covers, installing a flopper canopy, and a hundred small things that were all 100% designed to reduce weight and maximize performance and handling.

Jim's F1 Rocket, being flown by Tom McCord.

Jim built 2 RV-4s and 1 F1 Rocket. All were yellow with no stripes or graphics of any sort. Nothing but the N-number, which he wouldn't have added if the FAA didn't make him. He said that the lines of the plane were sufficiently beautiful that no other adornment was necessary. Who can argue?

Jim worked on P-51s while in the military. He often compared the RVs/Rockets to them, and many other aircraft that he'd flown, even hotrods like the Glasair III, and said about the RVs/Rockets: "There are just no finer flying aircraft anywhere."

We all owe Jim a huge debt of gratitude. No doubt. However, I personally, I owe Jim an even bigger debt. His selflessness has allowed me to be in a small business with my son. What a gift that has been. Here's a brief version of that story: Jim and I were at a breakfast fly-in back in 2005. Jim walked in and was showing a new tailwheel fork design that he thought worked better, and handled better. He gently suggested that I really needed one on my new Rocket. (He was right, of course!)

During the conversation, he handed the tailwheel fork to me and said " I'm too old to mess with making these, but they're really needed on the Rockets/RVs. Why don't YOU make them?" I had no clue how to make something like that, and botched quite a few learning, but ultimately that conversation started a small, very small, business: Flyboy Accessories, which my son, Blake, now runs full-time.

What a gift that one humble, talented, selfless man can make in the lives of others. Jim gave that gift to me, Blake, and hundreds of others in the RV community. He will be sorely missed.

Godspeed Jim Winings.

Vince Frazier
F1 Rocket and F4 Raider components
1-888-F1AIRCRAFT (1-888-312-4727)
RV and Rocket Accessories, Tailwheels, Tools, & More
1-888-8FLYBOY (1-888-835-9269)

F4 Raider - under construction
F1-H Rocket "Crazy Horse" - sold
RV-4 "Chief Pontiac" - sold in 1994, purchased in 2018

Last edited by vfrazier : 03-17-2018 at 12:12 PM. Reason: added photo
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Old 03-16-2018, 07:50 AM
Bob Martin's Avatar
Bob Martin Bob Martin is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Posts: 1,279
Default RIP Jim

Vince, RIP Jim........
Thanks for sharing his story. You had 30 years of Jim in your life and it is hard to put in a post, but you did a good job.
I am sure he will be missed by many! Blue Skies Jim!
Bob Martin
RV-6, 0-360 Hartzell C/S, Tip up, 1200+TT
James extended cowl/plenum, induction, -8VS and Rudder. TSFlightline hoses. Oregon Aero leather seats.
D100-KMD150-660-TT ADI2- AS air/oil seperator. Vetterman exhaust with turndown tips.
Louisa, Virginia KLKU N94TB
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Old 03-16-2018, 07:57 AM
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rocketbob rocketbob is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: 8I3
Posts: 3,767

I flew with Jim last Sunday evening. He came to pick me up to move an airplane to my shop for an annual. Most times that we flew together he, in typical Jim fashion, always offered the front seat and I always gladly accepted!! We've flown, ate, and road tripped hundreds of times together and I don't think I'll ever come across an exceptional friend in life like Jim.

Below is a photo from our last flight together, and as you can see he had one very fast RV-4. Jim payed attention to detail which resulted in one fast RV-4! Around the time I took this photo he was telling me from the back seat about how he missed his Rocket but this four was "pretty dang good" and he was just as happy with it as he was with his Rocket.


Please don't PM me! Email only!

Bob Japundza CFI A&PIA
N9187P PA-24-260B Comanche, flying
N678X F1 Rocket, under const.
N244BJ RV-6 "victim of SNF tornado" 1200+ hrs, rebuilding
N8155F C150 flying
N7925P PA-24-250 Comanche, restoring
Not a thing I own is stock.

Last edited by rocketbob : 03-18-2018 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 03-16-2018, 08:13 AM
vetterman vetterman is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: TX
Posts: 64
Default Jim

Well said Vince. Yes Jim was a friend to everyone he ever met. I don't remember the year exactly that I met Jim, but what I do remember is his enthusiasm about RV's and his ability to build them.
His first -4 was a fast one. One year coming home from Vans flyin, I was leading a group heading east at 9500 ft. I was at max cruise in my -4 and Jim would occasionally come up along side for a awhile then go back behind me. I had a fast -4 but his was faster. Those were good days. We will miss one of the pioneers in the RV world. Larry v.
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Old 03-16-2018, 08:18 AM
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rv6ejguy rv6ejguy is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Calgary, Canada
Posts: 6,106

Thanks Vince for the fine tribute, Jim sounds like an awesome guy who will be missed tremendously.

Ross Farnham, Calgary, Alberta
Turbo Subaru EJ22, SDS EFI, Marcotte M-300, IVO, Shorai- RV6A C-GVZX flying from CYBW since 2003- 450.6 hrs. on the Hobbs,
RV10 95% built- Sold 2016

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Old 03-16-2018, 08:19 AM
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f1rocket f1rocket is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Martinsville, IN
Posts: 2,344

Jim was everything Vince said and more. Jim made the first flight of my RV-12 not because I couldn't do it, but because Jim wanted to. He was proud of the fact that he had made first flights in every model of Van's aircraft except the -14. He was also instrumental in me completing all of my airplanes. I will miss the lively discussions we had about everything aviation. God Speed "Sodbuster".
Randy Pflanzer
Greenwood, IN
Paid through 2043!
Lund fishing Boat, 2017, GONE FISHING
RV-12 - Completed 2014, Sold
427 Shelby Cobra - Completed 2012, Sold
F1 EVO - partially completed, Sold
F1 Rocket - Completed 2005, Sold
RV-7A - Partially completed, Sold
RV-6 - Completed 2000, Sold
Long-EZ - Completed 1987, Sold

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Old 03-16-2018, 08:47 AM
Paul 5r4 Paul 5r4 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Foley, Al
Posts: 632

I didn't know him but from these posts, sounds like a wonderful guy. Prayers to the family and friends in these difficult time. Now, he's in Heaven flying on wings created by God himself. Those wings paid for by a life full of family, good friendship, and good deeds.
Peaceful rest.
Paul Gray
Foley, Alabama
N729PG..... 500+ hrs
RV 7A, Lycoming 0 320 D1A, Sensenich FP propeller
VAF supporter $$$
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Old 03-16-2018, 10:23 AM
patterson patterson is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Queen Creek AZ
Posts: 588
Default I just met Jim last month

Vince gave me Jim's phone number so i could ask him about shortening the gear legs on my F4 project. Once we started talking i realized what a wealth of information and innovation he was. His modification of the bellcrank linkage on his Rocket was something he was going to talk me through when i got to that point in my build. He mentioned at least 3 ir 4 more modifications that i could use if i wanted to make my F4 fly just like my -4. I was excited to know him and for his offer to walk me through some of his brilliant ideas. I wish id met him in person. What a wonderful man. God speed Jim.
RV-4 N8ZD Sold
Phat -4 under construction
regular VAF donor despite being exempt
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Old 03-16-2018, 10:39 AM
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aviationone aviationone is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Mukilteo, WA
Posts: 133
Default RIP Jim

Very Sad news, I remember meeting Jim back when I lived in Indiana building my fist RV back 18-20 years ago. Jim was always willing to help out if anyone needed a hand. Also if you needed something welded Jim was your man. I was modifying an RV3B canopy to a fast back and the aluminum frame needed to be completely changed, Jim, no problem bring it by the shop and ill take care of it.
Oshkosh will not be the same for me this year, I could always count on stopping at the Subway Stand by homebuilt camping around lunch time and having lunch with Jim and catching up on projects he had going on.

Blue Sky's Jim.
Tom Powers
RV8 (Done)
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Old 03-16-2018, 11:42 AM
Tom Martin Tom Martin is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,591

Jim, a great friend and a gentleman. He twice flew to our farm in Canada and I have flown in formation with him numerous times going to Texas and other locations. A man of strong convictions who was kinda fun to tease, you could really get him going if you took an opposite view, of course he was always right and enjoyed a good joke.
I have his prototype tail fork on my F1, still going after 1000 hours. My sincere condolences to Wilma and all of his close friends
Tom Martin RV1 pilot 4.6hours!
CPL & IFR rated
EVO F1 Rocket 1000 hours,
2010 SARL Rocket 100 race, average speed of 238.6 knots/274.6mph
RV4, RV7, RV10, two HRIIs and five F1 Rockets
RV14 Tail dragger

Fairlea Field
St.Thomas, Ontario Canada, CYQS
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