Hangar Flying

Hangar Flying => Hangar Flying => Topic started by: mikeydidit98 on August 23, 2007, 10:13:32 PM

Title: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: mikeydidit98 on August 23, 2007, 10:13:32 PM
Dear EZ Squadron;

I'm a 325hr VFR pilot who grew up around planes. It's a passion for me.  However, I've sat on the sidelines for the last 20 years - wanting a Long EZ / Varieze / Racer / ..., but never able to make the financial plunge. My disposable income has gone into raising children... and flying RC planes to compensate for not being able to fly the real thing.  A few of you know me from seeing me at Oshkosh, and at fields around the Midwest and eastern US. In fact, a few of you have been kind enough to give me a ride... Thanks.

I'm a 41 year old father of four great kids, and while I make a pretty respectable income, my wife and I have never been financially able to allow me to indulge myself in the dream. Well, I'm in full-bore midlife crisis and coming up on a milestone - the same age as my father was when he purchased his first plane. I'm not going to do the whole younger gal or sportscar thing... but I'll be damned if I am going to see 45 without owning a Long or Varieze. I am relatively naive in my belief that, given an opportunity to do so, people are willing to help others. And, I am asking for your help.

Will you please help me?.  David Orr has agreed to help me.  But even as absolutely connected as he is, there are still planes out there that have not yet surfaced.  And, I am the poor guy trying to find a rarity - great plane at an even better price (basically one I can afford).  

I am prepared and capable of pulling the trigger, though the resulting blast from that financial gun will by no means be large or loud as judged by most of you.  I have a 401K account that I'm prepared to cash out - $15K after penalties and taxes. Combine that with selling off a dirt bike and some remote control planes, and I can bring it up to about $18,000 cash in relatively short order - 3-4 weeks time ($15k of that being available almost immediately).  I'm successful at what I do and will earn a $10-20K bonus this year, payable in end March '08.  I'm looking for a flying Varieze or Long EZ, from someone willing to work with me, given my financial constraints.

So, I am appealing to each of you.   Do you know someone who is actually looking for a good home for their plane?  Are they someone who might be willing to sell their plane for a little less than what they could probably get elsewhere, because they want to help someone who is worthy of helping?  I am an ethical, good person. I help others and do that freely.  I am the man my parents raised me to be, and have some great folks who would welcome giving me reference.  

This is new to me.  I've never owned before.  As such, I could also use your advice.   If you were in my shoes, how would you proceed?

Thanks in advance for the help.  If this works, I'll be the guy at Oshkosh in '08 with the plane named "Thanks!"  And, I will personally thank each one of you.

Mike Westendorf
Title: Plunging
Post by: GlennBob on August 24, 2007, 01:04:51 AM
Dear Mikey,

DON'T  CASH  IN  THE  401 K.   THAT'S  THE WORST THING  YOU  CAN  DO ! !   DON'T DO IT  ! !   YOU'LL   PAY  TAXES  ON  THAT  MONEY  THREE  TIMES ! !   DON'T  DO  IT ! !     First,  you'll pay taxes on the money when you draw it out, . ( because it was not taxe when it went in),  2nd, . .you'll have to pay it back with money that HAS been taxed ! !, and 3rd, . .you'll pay taxes on it AGAIN when you pull it out in the end.   DON'T  DO  IT  ! ! !    YOU'LL   BE   SORRY  ! !

The key to finding a good easy is . . . . P  A  T  I  E  N  C  E  ! ! !   Take your time, . . don't leap at what looks like the first bargain.   It's  O.K.  and even good to get your ducks in a row so that when it shows up,  you can make the move,  but don't rush it.  I rushed and it has so far cost me two years of  NO  flying,  because the bird is not properly done and I'm having to re-do most of it.   Take your time.

As for the funds,  scrape together what you can,  and see about perhaps getting a line of credit on your house.  Maybe a 2nd mortgage.  That way it will be tax deductable and you can get a better fixed long term rate.   Then you can fly now and pay later.

One other possibility is to see if there is anyone in your area that might be willing to go into a partnership with you.  That can be a great deal because you share all the costs and pay only 1/2 of what everything would normally cost you.  Besides this, . .you can afford twice as much airplane.   It is critical that you get the right partner though.  I've seen a few that worked out great ! !  There are a couple dudes from out east at the show every year.  They seem to be having a great time in their partnership.  Make sure everything is spelled out on paper first though.  I was in a partnership and it was a great experience.  I had a great partner. He didn't fly much but enjoyed being partners too.

Good luck.

Title: Thanks #1
Post by: mikeydidit98 on August 24, 2007, 09:08:43 AM
Dear Glennbob;

Thanks for the advice.  I'll try to be patient.

I agree with you on the tax issue (working for The Man... 2 days out of every work week...a and then turning around and payin' him more every time ya go to buy something... greedy SOB).  I'm going to try and avoid cashing it in, since it only yields 53 cents on the dollar (47% goes to the IRS in taxes and penalties).  But, I'm willing to do it, if something great comes along between now and Apr 1, when I receive my bonus.

Unfortunately, while I make a lot, as does my wife, my financial reality is in a number - 635 (my credit score)(twice divorced and an unemployment issue in the mid 90's that caused my salary to drop by 30%... took me almost 5 years to get it back to where it should be).  An aviation loan is not in the picture for me, unless I can find a personal/seller finance deal.

I'm relatively even keel and am approaching this as a process.  Given my limitations, I know it will not be a quick one, and I'm ok with that.  My goal is to have my bird at Oshkosh next year, painted as promised in a "Thank You!" theme.


Title: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: rglos on August 24, 2007, 11:30:30 AM
I am 62 and have had my Long EZ for 21 yeas now.

I will trade it for your wife................Just kidding

Considering the budget and time, you should think about building. You can set aside what amounts to a car payment to yourself each month and buy materials as you need them. That's what most of us have done.

Building is a rewarding experience. Just as much as owning and flying.

In the next four years you will have the plane of your dreams,( if it is a Long EZ type) will have built it yourself and will proably be under that 18k + 10 to 20K (Bonus) budget. You will have a 401 K worth twice what it is today. You can involve the family in the build phase and double up on your accomplishment and enjoyment.

I started with RC models as well so building will not be a needed skill set.

The "Open EZ" drawings and terf CD of the plans will get things started.

In the end you will have literally "Made" your dream come true. Just be patient.

Your kids will be able to say "My dad is building a real airplane and I am helping."  What is that worth?

The only downside is that you will have to banish the cars from the garage for a few years.

Think about it.

Title: Hangar Flying
Post by: Bruce Hughes on August 24, 2007, 07:19:28 PM
If you do build, you WILL spend MORE in the total project than you
would spend on someone's flying airplane.

Variezes cost less than other canard pushers, I believe.

If you build, the Cozy is a good choice because plans are available
and you have room in the back.   However the Cozy IV requires a
larger engine so the engine cost is pretty much prohibitive.

Considering your finances, Variezes really look good.   You might
get a ride in one to see if you fit.

Bruce Hughes :D
Title: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Drew on August 25, 2007, 12:35:44 AM
As others have mentioned---don't cash out!  I am a simple military guy who has been owning a Longez and then a Cozy since my early 30s (I am 2 years older than you---wife and daughter).  My approach to life was to first fund all of my requirements
-1st: make sure that I could live in retirement (IRAs/TSP---max non tax accounts---then supplement with other retirement income until reaching comfortable levels)
-2nd: make sure education accounts appropriate for daughter
-3rd: what is left over is for everything else (1st and 2nd are untouchable).  I could get a really big house and a nice car but then there would not be anything left for a plane.  So the trick was to live below my means (smaller house, used car, etc) to reach goal

For those not used to budgeting, you would be surprise to find out how much beer, smoking, and Starbucks coffee costs you per year.

If you can't talk yourself into the smaller house, used cars, ditching the Starbucks, then partnerships are another way to go

Bottom line----my guess from your post---is that you can afford to take the plunge.  But do you have the discipline to make the numbers work out (you can't have it all----can you really choose what is important to you?)
Title: Understand the need
Post by: Britguy59 on August 25, 2007, 11:15:58 AM
I was a similar case. I had long given up the thought of owning/building, yet after finding a new (decent) wife, here I am. 48 yo and near finishing. I bought a used Long that had most of the major fabrication done, leaving me the controlls, engine, avionics et al. It still is taking a year or two, but I would advise you finding an abandoned or mostly built project and save much effort. I got mine for $8000 with a bunch of parts in boxes. There are others out there. Support from my wife was a huge help, but my funds were my equity line on the house. I started from nothing 3 times over, so no big $$ in my bank. I'm leaving my 401K alone. I just keep driving the old car and my bike, and buying parts as I go. None of us are getting younger, and the payoff will be us living our dream together. She's 100% behind it.
Title: Finding your Dream
Post by: easyrider on August 26, 2007, 01:36:21 PM
There is a very reasonable Varieze posted in the for sale section.
Give Jim Skilling a call 661 822 0183.
Good Luck
Title: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: GlennBob on August 27, 2007, 01:42:19 AM
Goodness ! !    

One must be carefull to assess what's important in life.   If you'd had the EZ for 5 years already,  sure you'd say it was great,  but it's not the most important thing in your life. Because you're on the outside looking in,  it SEEMS drastically important, but once you have it, . .it'll fade, . .just like everything else material in life ! !  

There have been some good suggestions posted.  All very good advice I'd say.  But be careful for what you wish for. You might get it and some of the important things in life might suffer.  It's all gonna burn someday anyway.

Family, friends, and especially God are the only things that are truly important ! !

Personally,  I'd check out some of the 3/4 finished ones out there.  That'll give you a great head start.  It may cost a little more in the long run, but you won't have to pay for it all at once.

Best wishes,

Title: Total and other costs
Post by: fionapple on August 27, 2007, 06:28:53 AM
I, too, sat on the sidelines, then pulled the trigger, and now I'm buried.

I bought a "flying" plane and it's just gone backwards the more I look into it.  I had experts tell me it was a great deal.  I've now spent 1500 hours and 40% beyond the purchase price to get it going, and I'm looking at another $10K.  Meanwhile, knowledgeable local help and A&P's for things like condition inspections are getting harder to find.  "Experimental" is becoming synonymous with "RV".

While I think these are amazing planes, I could have been flying a slower certified training for these few years.  I have, some, and it's hard enough to find people to go up side-by-side in a certified plane.

I'm sure you have, but do please consider the actual run rate.  Most people try to hangar.  Gas went from $2.70 to $4.30 in the time I've owned the project.  Insurance is 3X that for a certified fixed-gear.  I've spent over $4K at the hardware store in $20 increments.  If you get an RV, there are tons of suppliers and supporters and little variation; with these old planes, be prepared to muddle through debugging someone's one-off brake mounts.  If you buy, you'll probably end up as knowledgeable as a builder about systems, but you'll still need a sympathetic A&P every year.  

They say there's one thing that distinguishes new businesses that succeed: more cash and more time to succeed.  Same here.  If you can't spend double the time and money in a pinch, you're liable to get into a hole you can't get out of.

Fear aside, perhaps the best thing you could do would be to partner with someone, perhaps the builder who's looking at stepping back to light-sport for medical reasons.  You could pick up all the labor so he can just fly and you can learn.  You can even help build the next plane.  He might feel better about handing his baby off to someone who he's vetted and trained.   There are no deals; almost invariably the $40K solid flying plane will be a better deal that the $15K project because you need only keep it in good shape (that's enough money and time right there).

I don't mean to be a downer, but I think you won't succeed unless you can take a big bite of reality and still keep up your spirits.

(Thanks for your patience.)
Title: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: GlennBob on August 29, 2007, 11:32:20 AM
I would have to agree with Fionapple ?

I bought a " Flying " plane and I too am buried.  Although, I've made a bunch of progress.   I've essentially lost 2 years of flying and I passed up the $40 k  finished plane he was talking about.  It would have been a far better deal than the one I chose.

But, . .when I'm done, . .this will be my bird that no one will know better than I do ! !

Title: I'm an Owner
Post by: mikeydidit98 on September 05, 2007, 09:37:52 PM
Thanks to everyone for the comments.  I had some good help along the way from david Orr (my hero), who steered me toward a great plane - N6553C.  It's a 1992 O-235 Varieze, with 400TTAF and TTSMOH (approx 3200 TT on the case).  She's having her conditional done this week, and I fly her home from Phoenix to KC 10 days from now.  Here is a pic of her before i took her out and gave her a bath.  I'll get more up once I get her home.

I'm looking forward to again meeting the same folks I've gabbed with over these past years about EZ's.  They've given me sound advice, encouragement... and friendship.  Stop me and chat when you see me on the ramp.  I love to gab and gleen information from those more experienced than I.

Mike Westendorf
Title: I almost bought this very plane
Post by: IRVINGPI on May 17, 2008, 10:33:28 PM
I hope this guy is alright.

Title: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Dave in Eugene on May 21, 2008, 10:40:08 PM
Any updates?

Title: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Bill James on June 02, 2008, 08:24:19 PM
This thread takes me several places.
One, remembering when it took a lifetime to get to 'someday'.
Two, remembering the day-to-day eze building experience as good, and missing it, a little.
Three, knowing builders of other types that also take on a weekend re-do project and
end up still not back in the air three years later. It's not just ezes, or airplanes...
Four, from plans to flying, for a couple of bucks a day. The time would have passed
even if i hadn't built all those little pieces and parts.
As you get your new beauty flying, may i suggest a re-read of "The List" on the
home page EZ Chronicles link. Still works for me.
The sunset was spectacular yesterday. A shorter runway is a welcome ongoing challenge.
Kinda like building...
Title: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: allen on June 04, 2008, 11:56:59 AM
I have done some digging around and cannot find anything else on this accident. Anybody out there know if he made it? The reports had him calling in his own crash, but I cannot find any follow-up articles. This one hits a bit close to home. We bought our planes about the same time.

Hope your ok bud……
Title: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: alcornl on June 05, 2008, 01:29:30 PM
Looks like he made it.  NTSB report says non fatal.  Too bad.  Beautiful plane.  I almost bought it 3 years ago.

Title: looking to buy my dream
Post by: Joe Person on June 05, 2008, 04:54:11 PM
For what it's worth,

Having looked (qualitatively and quantitatively) in at the discrepant wing fitting installation on this airplane in detail, and analyzed (engineering structural/strength analysis) same, you were lucky in avoiding this airplane.  The wing fittings had very, very good potential for not allowing the airplane to carry design 'g' load, and coupled with the epoxy-rich sparcap layups (resulting in the wing fitting plates common to the centersection spar being spaced at least 1/32 inch farther apart than the .375 inch per plans), this was a structural failure waiting to happen.  Failure could have occurred as low as 2.8 g's, and this assumes that the centersection sparcap layups were rendered correctly (so as to react approximately 40,000 psi of stress, which they probably could not on account of epoxy richness).

Two of us, both with proper engineering credentials (myself, I developed airframe repair and modification engineering for 16+ years where I work), came to the above conclusion, and passed this on repeatedly to the most-recent owner, to no avail.  In the end, "better opinions" prevailed.  The loss of this airplane could have been worse if it had been the incorrect wing fitting installation that caused the crash.  At a foot or two of altitude, it could have been bad.  At any appreciable altitude (10 feet and more???) - fatal.

In the exact words of an extremely-esteemed "former RAF employee", when this configuration was bounced off of him, "I wouldn't fly it, would you?"

It will be intersting to see the NTSB final report on this one.

Just because it is a pretty airplane, that does not meant the really important elements (airframe/strucures, flight controls, fuel system, etc.) are also up-to-par.

As I have stated before, it is paramount for buyers of plans-built airplanes to enlist the help of an experienced/qualified BUILDER/operator of the design in question, in order to have a good examination and assesment of the intended purchase.  Each plans-built airplane is unique, and if it does not "conform" to the basic requirements of the plans, one needs to know how/why that is so, and what potential (or definitive) effect the deviation has.

My 2 bits,

-Joe Person
EAA Tech Counselor 4418
VariEze N79JN
Bothell, WA  (KPAE)
Title: Re: looking to buy my dream
Post by: Tom on June 06, 2008, 06:35:06 AM
Quote from: McGyver

Just because it is a pretty airplane, that does not meant the really important elements (airframe/strucures, flight controls, fuel system, etc.) are also up-to-par.


I couldnt have said it better myself

Any updates on his condition?

Title: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Greg in Tulsa on June 06, 2008, 07:40:15 PM
According to reports, he spent less than two days in the hospital with his most serious injury being a broken leg. Numerous reports can be obtained by googling "westendorf olathe". The best one I found is:[/url]http://www.nbcactionnews.com/mostpopular/story.aspx?content_id=5811397f-64f8-40e6-b02e-f6e14081e786

Greg in Tulsa
Title: Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: mikeydidit98 on June 22, 2008, 05:46:29 PM
This is Mike Westendorf.  Thank you for your concern and thoughts.  I am recovering well from the injuries to my right knee, leg and foot.  The pcl (posterior crutiate ligament) tore a chunk of cartilage away from the knee, which was re-located back into place and is holding so far in place.  The tip of the tibia had a couple pieces break off but is structurally sound as far as knee function and integrity.  The broken bones in the foot are healing.  I am out of the full leg cast now and in a 45 degree movement full leg brace.  I should be back racing my dirt bikes by October/November timeframe.

By the way - the wings were fine on this bird.  Contrary to Joe's opinion, it held up under a 4g continuous load test.

Thanks to the help of the wonderful people of western Kansas (over 300 of them involved in helping to find me) and the organizational skills and dedication of Lawrence Ruff (the chief of the local fire department there), I survived the crash.  During an emergency landing caused by an in-flight electrical fire, I hooked a wing on a fence post doing approximately 80mph, flipped her 3 times and came to rest on my side.  The nose cone came off, but the rest of the tub and the head rest stayed intact, saving me.  I then survived waiting 10 1/2 hrs in 30-40 degree temps, rain and wind in excess of 30mph.  The "hello, is anyone there?" from the first person to find me was one of the best sounds I have ever heard.

I will be back in a canard when I can again afford to buy one... maybe another 10 years.

Thanks again.


Mike Westendorf

Title: Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Dave in Eugene on June 22, 2008, 08:30:30 PM

Glad you made it though it.

What caused the fire?

What can we learn?

Title: Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Drew on June 23, 2008, 05:41:32 PM
I am glad you are still with us.  Were you able to shut the electrical system down?  And if so, did the fire quit when it was shut down---or continue to burn?

Regards---and get better soon!
Title: Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Joe Person on June 25, 2008, 11:54:30 AM
Nevil Shute wrote a great novel about this kind of scenario, called, “No Highway” (1948).  If you are not interested in reading the book, a reasonable movie was made a few years later (“No Highway in the Sky”).  Gives a good perspective about seemingly trivial little things that aircraft engineers fret about, as written by an aeronautical engineer turned novelist.

I stand by my conclusion regarding the wing fittings on this late VariEze.  Moreso, I’m glad you got out alive, Mike, and that it was not a failure of the wing attach structure that caused the accident.

For what it is worth, my “opinion” about the wing fitting configuration on this airplane was, in detail:

1.   My initial engineering assessment, back in 2005, for this airplane, based on direct airframe repair/modification engineering design experience (big aluminum beasties, and yes, believe it or not, the same engineering principles, analysis, material characteristics, etc., that apply to the big ones also apply to the little ones…)
2.   On-site detailed examination & measurement of the wing fittings by one of the most-respected VariEze builder/drivers in the Realm (also happens to be an exceptional engineer). 
3.   Actual, formal (not just thumbnail) engineering analyses (has to be done under the requirements of evaluating what is referred to as Statically Indeterminate structure), evaluating to the absolute worst-case scenario (worst-case, based on epoxy-rich sparcaps, aft cg loading at 1200 pound weight because I know that’s where most VariEzes end up, when loaded full…), etc.
4.   Peer review/independent analysis of the above by two veteran airframe structures/stress analysts.  I always seek qualified Second Opinions when dealing with such issues, as this is the way we solve such problems in my profession.
5.   Assessment of this condition by the designer’s Right Hand Man, when presented with the configuration and dimensions of the wing fittings (direct quotes copied and pasted out of the email I received back on this issue):

      "Ooohh, that's not good".


      "I wouldn't fly it like that - would you?".

I also considered having this looked at by a DAR (Designated Airworthiness Representative) I work with, but knew his final assessment of whether or not this configuration constituted Condition for Safe Operation would only weaken the above positions that much more…

Regarding the substantiation of 4 g’s continuous loading, how much above 4 g’s would this structure take (assuming that it was truly 4 g’s of flight loading, at aft cg, at the highest weight the airplane would ever be operated at)?  Unknown, and only truly “knowable” under formal, documented load testing (which would have to allow for measurements of yielding/deformation in the outer .125 plates, in the outer taper pin bores, etc., among other things).  Long and short of it is, the fitting installation/geometry did not meet the structural design requirements, and could not be guaranteed to provide the necessary structural performance over the life of the airplane. 

What if it took 10 more repetitions at x.x (pick a number here…) g’s before more bore yielding in the outer upper plate shifted the load transfer primarily from the outer plate to the induction of local bending moment in the upper composite spar cap due to primary load transfer being mostly/wholly reacted by the inner upper .125 plate???  The taper pin bore in one outer upper .125 plate had already been yielded at least once before, possibly twice, as evidenced by visible material upset/plastic deformation on the 2024-T3 alloy.  This is the sort of circumstance that was quantitatively analyzed (among others).

All told, the players in 1 – 4, above collectively had 10 – 15 some man-hours invested in all of this effort.  No.  It was not just a case of my “opinion”.  The overall situation honestly scared the hell out of me, and weighed heavily on my mind.  Engineering ethics, dontchaknow...

Given the same set of circumstances again, in the future, I would maintain the same position. 
Title: Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Tom on June 26, 2008, 12:22:01 PM

I havent done any analysis on the VE wing attach fittings/center section spar, but how conservative do you think Burts' limit load of 5Gs is? (this is of course assuming proper build and workmanship)

I routinely pull 5gs in my plane, and the thought of structural failure has never even remotely entered my mind. (for the record, at each annual, I inspect all aluminum structure each year for signs of damage and or corrosion)

Title: Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Joe Person on June 26, 2008, 01:04:05 PM

Assuming all is correct with the wing attach (glass structure correct, taper pin fits correct - lapped into the bores, wing fittings & dimensions all per-plans, etc.), the VariEze wing fittings begin to give up the ghost at 14 - 16 g's.  This reflects failure of the .125 2024-T3 plates in the shearout mode (i.e. the taper pins tear "chunks" out of the lower .125 plates that are about the same width as the pins.  Under such a failure mode, the mating WA-3 wing tongue will display yielded (distorted) material, as tensile yield in 2024-T3 material is 2/3rds of tensile ultimate capability.  Ever wonder why "classic" aluminum GA airframe design puts a 1.5 factor from limit load to ultimate load?  Comes from this ratio, as 2024-T3 is the predominant alloy for light airplane construction when aluminum alloys are used.

In overload conditions, with loadings not imparted by flight loading, sparcap failure can occur before the fittings go.  I have examined in detail 3 different VariEzes that made forced landings, and tensile failure of the lower sparcaps (wing, or centersection spar) was present on each one.  Overload in a crash imparts different loadings (obviously) than flight loads.

The overall flight structures (wings, canard, winglets) are reasonably over-designed.  The wings are actually designed (structurally) to be stiff enough to ensure flutter is not a problem within the flight envelope (and then some), for example.

I did a very detailed structural analysis of the airframe about 20 years ago, out of mere curiosity, before I ever began building.  The airplane is very robust, but, there are some areas where the configuration is rather unforgiving of errors, just like any other airframe structure where weight is always a concern. 

Things like wing fittings and canard lift tabs can be "over-designed", strength-wise, because they are a very small fraction of the airplane's weight.  On a VariEze, at 1050 pounds, at forward CG, the lift tabs are good to close to 30 g's, and the F-22 bulkhead will fail before that (in flight-type loading in an overload condition).  But again, even such over-design will not tolerate all errors.

Hope this helps.

Best regards,
Title: Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: ezeguy440ez on June 26, 2008, 03:47:56 PM
 Wasnt the Veri Ez down rated to 2.5 g limits after Andreas Christeau found corrosion in his wing fittings and after he was doing a steady regiment of airobatic manuvers. I believe this was back in 04. Aside from that Mike never had a wing structural failure. He had an electrical fire. Mike I hope you get another plane. I have a really rough project if your interested it has about 700 flight hours on it. its really rough. I just thought Id offer I will eventually get around to fixing it up.
 Did you have a recent incident with your plane in seattle. Or was that just a rumor?

David Hanson
N440ez Veri ez
N220ez Veri Ez
N440DH SQ 2000   
Title: Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Joe Person on June 26, 2008, 09:08:16 PM
Hi David,

Long time no talkee.

Yes, Burt put out the word on the g limit reduction after Andreas Christou's finding.  In the forensics of that airplane, the sparcaps were layed up rich (you can see the swelled composite structure immediately inboard of the inboard edge of the wing fitting), and when the outer fitting plate was pressed in place, it "hydraulicked" out the excess epoxy inboard, swelling and distorting the sparcap layup.  I believe the problem with Mike's VariEze was that the sparcaps were also layed up with excess epoxy, but the outer fitting plates were not squeezed into place.  This resulted in at least a .030 inch or more extra gap.  Not very good structurally, based on the design requirements of the wing fittings. 

Burt put out this limitation and was being rightfully conservative.  Andreas's airplane, and (in multiple qualified people's judgement) Mike's airplane, are both examples of why Burt did this.  Unless you build the airplane yourself, you really have no way of ascertaining the quality of some of the most critical structure and structural interfaces in the airframe.  As a buyer, you rely on the skill (or ham-fistedness...) of the builder in ensuring your structures are safe.  In one of the last Canard Pushers, Burt explicitly gives his opinion that these airplanes should not be sold.  Again, rightfully conservative, having evaluated numerous accidents (and at least 3 in-flight structural failures of VariEzes) over the past several decades.

I have placarded my own Eze at 1200 pounds, and +5 -2 gs (at 1110 pounds), and +3.8 and - 1.5 at the 1200.  I know exactly how all my primary structure was built, and know that it is of the best quality I could have made it.  In Andreas's airplane, one would have never known about the poor workmanship in the spars.  On Mike's airplane, the discrepancy was readily apparent.  Burt states at least once in the CPs:  "Your best workmanship is barely adequate", or words to that effect.  Yup.  The VariEze is pretty tolerant of less-than-good workmanship, with overdesign, but everything has its limits.

No.  Mike's airplane (fortunately) did not suffer wing failure, but as I have exasperatingly stated, had very high potential for one, and it would very likely be one that "snuck up" on the pilot.  The failure mode would have most-likely been cumulative material distortion in the outer upper wing fitting plates at the taper pin bore edges.  Eventually, the inner plate would take on more of the flight loads than the outer plate would.  Such unbalanced load distribution would impart a bending moment in the upper spar caps (centersection).  Over time, such actions had very high potential to end up causing the inner plate to take the vast majority of the flight loads.  There is a point where the resultant bending moment in the sparcap would cause the allowable stress level in the sparcap section to be exceeded.  The sparcap was already compromised, structurally, by being epoxy-rich.  Excess epoxy in a glass structure that reacts compressive loading is uglier than in structure that is in tension.

If Andreas had flown his airplane without finding the structural degradation it had, with only a single inner upper plate reacting flight loads, it would have been ugly-bad evetually  I believe Andreas did frequent acro in his airplane.  Lucky man.  Such a structural configuration is exactly the concern I had for Mike's airplane, over the long-term.

As for the recent VariEze crash up this way, no.  Not me.  I got that out of my system 10 years ago (knock on wood - I have firsthand knowledge of how a hidden, latent failure mode in a system can ruin your day, which is why I can be pretty damn adamant about squwaking about failure modes I can recognize given my canard and "day job" experience).  I helped recover the airplane from the field late in the afternoon with several other good souls, on the day of the crash.  Pilot OK (cuts, bruises, etc.) after an overnight stay in the hospital.  Airframe was totaled.  Airplane was on its second test flight.  Suffice to say, I'll let the NTSB report speak to this one. 

One thing I hope all buyers of these airplanes do is at least go read ALL of the Canard Pusher Newsletters.  Become familiar with the evolution of the VariEze and the Long-EZ (Ditto for Nat's Cozy newsletters for the Cozys), and study up on the accidents and the failure modes that caused them.  Going back to 1982 with my beginning in the Rutan canard world, I still pull the CPs once in a while and refresh.

Best regards,
Title: Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Tom on July 10, 2008, 02:14:05 PM
Hi Joe,

Its rather interesting that in the midst of all the speak of wingspar problems,  I might have my own issues as well!

On my last flight, my left hand exhaust failed (right in the middle of the carb heat box) anyway the long and short is it appears the back of the left side spar carry through may have sustained some heat damage (kind of just to the right or the aileron bellcrank).

Anyway Ive looked all over for information regarding an issue such as this but so far no joy. There is no damage to the exterior skin but from the looks of the shear web as mentioned earlier, high heat might have been encountered.

Any suggestions?

Title: Re: Looking for Help in Buying My Dream
Post by: Tom on July 10, 2008, 02:20:51 PM
On a lighter note,

Check of the SWEET Long that I have the fortune of ferrying this weekend!   

I think this plane exists in MS flight sim 2004!