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Messages - Bill James

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Hangar Flying / Re: New VEZ owner
« on: April 02, 2013, 07:01:16 PM »
Matt said: “Just picked up 54EG a Varieze…”

Now why did you go and do that, Matt? Didn’t you get the message? That the VariEze is passé, out of favor, replaced?

Just kidding   :)      -Wanted to welcome you to the somewhat rarified air of the VariEze experience. I would be interested in hearing your reasons for taking on the VariEze.

Hangar Flying / Rob Martinson
« on: March 27, 2013, 09:30:18 PM »
 As many of you have heard, we lost good friend Rob Martinson in a skiing accident in Vail.
Here's a link to the CA forum post:
 Rob was one of the first Eze Guys that I met.
     At Oshkosh ’92 I went up to this guy wearing a fishing cap and a R.A.C.E  polo shirt. I asked him where I could get a shirt like that, just as he was pulling one out of the box for me with a big grin. He asked if I was an Eze driver. I replied that I was the eighth owner of a pile of boxes of VariEze parts that I had just stacked up in my garage, and was trying to figure out what all that stuff was. He grabbed my hand and shook it and said “Welcome to the club, come with me, there’s a guy over here that you need to meet, listen to everything that he tells you,” and hustled me over to Charlie Airesman’s VariEze. And thus my Eze venture was off and running, to put it mildly. Although Rob didn’t suggest or mention his own value as a source of information and experience, he has been such through the years.
     The first thing I learned was not to do something stupid like chase Rob and Charlie from Denver to the Jackpot RACE. The word “chase” is very appropriate. It wasn’t a matter of being a mile or two behind them, it was a matter of how many states I was behind them.  They came back “a hundred rpm” so many times that finally Rob flew a big circle and called out to me saying, “Bill, where the heck are you?”  Not long after that we broke off on our own. I watched as he sped away like a streak and disappeared across the shores of the Great Salt Lake. He occasionally dropped down and circled something interesting a few times and then sped off again. I saw the reality of the Eze life in Rob, and realized the magnificent gift of freedom that was available in these stunning airplanes; of seeing things in ways that only a few fortunate others ever will.
     I saw Rob’s beautiful home and family. I saw his hanger walls literally wallpapered solid with plaques and awards that he had amassed over the years. I saw the talent and passion that he had for these airplanes, for art, and the passion he had for life. He didn’t tell me anything of his prowess in the races and cross country flying. I saw it. He didn’t tell me he was going to do this or that, or that he would be there for me as a friend, he just did it.
     At one point he spoke directly of his appreciation for things I had done. It said more to me about his steady ego than about anything I had done. He was direct and honest.
     There were many times where Rob could have mentioned this or that, something that he had done of significance. But he didn’t. I later found out about him on my own. I began to understand why some of you guys that have been living the Eze life for 35 years and more don’t try to explain it to us. It can’t be done. You can’t explain it.
    Rob’s friend Len said, “Rob and I skied frequently together and it sometimes felt like skiing was more like flying than flying was. That was the way Rob skied.”

     While I don’t ski if I can help it, I do see vividly Rob whisking briskly through the snow, stopping occasionally to circle something of interest, and then disappearing again off ahead.  I look forward to catching up with him again someday…
Our hearts and prayers are with you Pam.
Bill James
Fort Worth VariEze

Hangar Flying / How We Discovered Joe Person
« on: March 26, 2013, 08:12:50 PM »
If you saw a VariNice VariEze on the airplane edition of "How We Invented the World" on the Discovery Channel, you were watching our vari own Joe Person!
Atta boy Joe. Spectacular! 

Hangar Flying / Re: Flying in SoCal
« on: December 25, 2012, 04:10:56 PM »
I appreciate the discussion here...
My three sons are deep into technology and i enjoy them and you guys discussing things on the cutting edge. While i play with a few gadgets, the primary nav scan on cross countries always defaults to three things: the GPS direction arrow, the altimeter needle, and the great outdoors.
Merry Christmas-

Hangar Flying / Re: Fuel flow indicator?
« on: December 11, 2012, 07:49:19 PM »
I like it. Thanks!

Hangar Flying / Fuel flow indicator?
« on: December 09, 2012, 10:06:39 PM »
Who makes a good fuel flow indicator?
Bill James

Hangar Flying / EZ Thanksgiving To You 2012
« on: November 25, 2012, 12:32:51 PM »
EZ Thanksgiving To You 2012!
     Bug guts in November   :)
                   Photos - if you are logged in -

Hangar Flying / Re: Rough River 2012
« on: October 05, 2012, 12:17:43 AM »
Just a few minutes before sunset and the 0-290 pops to life on 4th pull. Around to adjust the RPM and mixture, oil pressure is coming up, pull the brake pin from the left strut and store it in its console hole. Up with the nose and down with the nose gear. A last look all around and a quick hop up into the driver’s seat, and still a few precious minutes before the sun sets.
Taxiing out, folks look out grinning and waving. Up the hill Don is calling his takeoff roll in his yellow Cub, also racing the sunset. I hold short at midfield and he passes overhead at 200 feet and 60 mph. I pull onto the runway and back taxi to the north end, beating Don still out there on downwind.
Canopy locked, oil and fuel pressure good, looking for 2350 rpm, got it; brisk takeoff roll and we’re off like a prom dress. The nose wheel lifts off at 60 and the little white porpoise climbs briskly at 80 mph. I think of the deliberate effort it would take to get the nose over if the engine lost power. I wait for it on every takeoff but have made it out clean every time for fifteen years now.
Don is turning base in the Cub so I reduce power and hold 80 mph for the downwind, base and final. Normally the takeoff is a 150 mph climbout and turn to a 180 mph downwind circuit to a 200 mph low pass and west departure toward the ranchlands for a few wingovers and such. But today Don stays in the pattern and is setting the pace, so 80 it is, nose gear down and belly board out most of the time. We will each do three touch and goes at this leisurely pace. It takes some deliberate poking along but the Eze handles it well and the pilot enjoys the different corner of the envelope. Kinda like entering Oshkosh. The approaches are much easier to set up with everything at 80 mph.
I am glad to have this time sharing the pattern with Don. He is not just another guy out there. Two years ago he was on top of the world career and family-wise, living the life, when he got hit between the …eyes with a diagnosis of prostate cancer. For a year everything stopped for him except the treatments and checkups. He worked hard at beating it and a few months ago he got the news he wanted. Since then he got his license and the yellow Cub and  …that special freedom that comes with flying. He has described that feeling for us several times.
He calls full stop this time and I take the opportunity for a low pass to the side of the runway to exercise the airspeed indicator. Pulling her back to 80 again, the earlier touch and goes pave the way for an effortless and very gratifying touchdown. The taxi back to the hangar is as fulfilling as the flight, almost. :)
This year, trying to get off to Rough River hit the proverbial snag, not quite finishing a few items on the plane, and a solemn trip south to my brother-in-law’s funeral. The feeling of disappointment in the gut of not being there at RR and seeing everyone is soothed in contemplating the joy of life, the sunset flights, the amazing feeling of that pull up and climb a few minutes ago, and even the therapeutic time spent tweaking the plane. When I stop in mid-step and look at it, it is an thing of beauty and amazement. So glad the steed sits out there waiting patiently.
We are happy for those of you that made it to RR and pulling for those of you still pushing to get in the air.
Bill James

Hangar Flying / Re: OSH 2012
« on: September 14, 2012, 02:40:16 PM »
I'm with you there GlennBob-
Got the 6.5 done for the autopilot, now working on countering that alternator that I installed years ago  :) 
Lots of us with you working on that 20 lb target-
Another way of looking at it, how many feet are shaved off the takeoff roll, or how much it improves the chances of getting out of ground effect, although we may be out of the density altitude cooker for now.
And happy munching to you, congrats on any success you enjoy.
The next Oshkosh isn't far off-

Hangar Flying / Re: The Voyager Constant
« on: August 12, 2012, 02:08:37 PM »
Have you noticed the number of density altitude related events lately?
     Several weeks ago this hotter than usual summer is what initially had me thinking about the significance of density and AOA. Since starting these thoughts I have heard of half a dozen first-hand experiences of guys barely milking up through ground effect and finally getting the plane up to flying speed and altitude. Barely. Several types of aircraft.  We have a couple of advantages with the canard configuration. 
     The major point I was thinking of was too easily accepting that the airplane was over weight from the beginning, whether we bought or built. Bottom line concern was the situation of a pilot reading in the POH a minimum speed value of maybe 65 (mph/kts/whatever) or so, when in reality on a real day with more than one person aboard and more than a few gallons of fuel the minimum speed may be 100 or so. So adding the 22 to dissipate descent rate-of-descent would be a minimum approach speed of 122; not 65.     
It's one thing if we are well experienced in this heavy condition and have that buffer mentally ingrained. But it is a different story if surprised at this diference because of gross wt and DA. Weight has many implications. Some are OK, some are unacceptable. Especially on an unplanned unprepared-surface landing.
     One of my most challenging takeoffs was in Buena Vista, Colorado; Elevation 7946 ft and 8300 ft long. Getting in there was fine. But because of the expected challenge, several precautions were made to prepare for the departure. I made a practice solo flight which was instructive. The departure was planned for an early (cool) takeof, and minimum fuel. The abort distance was determined. All went well, with everything working as planned. I had been thinking about it for weeks.
     But it is the unexpected that gets us; either from an act of God or from our own complacency. One of my favorite phrases these days has to do with the “buffer” or “margin of safety."
What is our limit? What do we demand of ourselves?
     So, here’s the question.
     You are at KXYZ airdrome and because of the usual-suspect reasons you are slightly overloaded and MUST depart NOW at the worst-condition density altitude.
     Other than “I think I can,” what are the planning elements that one should use for canard aircraft?
Bill James

Hangar Flying / OSH 2012
« on: July 29, 2012, 03:43:53 PM »
Oshkosh 2012
Tenth time the VariEze has swept me in to Oshkosh.  First time to have a 20+ mph tailwind both ways  :)
Congrats to James and Sandy Redmon in RACE 13 for the Lindy award. Well earned and deserved. 

Over the years, on each flight lofting up through the beautiful green-patched heartland, I experience a renewed realization of the fantastic freedom and gift of flight; especially when cruising in a spectacular machine where contrary to the phrase of the week, “I did do it.”
That moment of euphoria is triggered by something as simple as looking out at the great expanse drifting steadily and quietly below, refocusing on the weave of the panel, the curve of the canard tip, a quick memory of stippling in a corner tape, never quite being able to take it all in. Especially how all these molecules in and around me and out there all hold together so well. 
Highlight of the trip would be the huge benefit that the autopilot affords. It is light, smart, and dependable.
As for specific items of interest at the show, we didn’t find the expected mass gathering of electric airplanes. We did see the 200 mph electric LongEZ on display, with an empty wt of 1062 lbs, noticing that the belt driven motor installation was pretty straight forward.
Good visits but not enough time with all the buddies. The trip mainly served as an incentive for getting ready for Rough River.
So the main wish-list gizmo that we checked out was the 6.3 lb Skytech LSA starter and talk of a very light battery. Now where can i find 6.3 lbs to shave off...

Hangar Flying / Re: The Voyager Constant
« on: July 12, 2012, 08:37:04 PM »
A little more info on this thread-
A few years ago i flew the VariEze non-stop 1400 sm in 8 hours. I determined the cruise rpm to use by seeing how much the plane slowed with each 50 rpm and then 20 rpm reductions. The first big speed droop was when the rpm was reduced below 2400. So 2400 it was. It worked fine, averaging about 3.8 gallons an hour. Now we all know that others have greatly surpassed that, but it was an exciting event for me. The plane had no electrical system and just the two mags, plain and simple. Hand held com and GPS. If I couldn’t have made it non-stop I had scouted out the airports for good refueling spots. I stayed in my fuel discipline because I already started the descent into Truckee before the going into the 5 gallon tank under the aft thigh support. I used 31 gallons and landed with 4 gallons, a little over an hour remaining.

I often think of doing the Reno run again now with electronic ignition and an auto pilot. I'll have to check with Tim LoDolche to see if he will still let me sleep on his kitchen floor during the Races.  :)
The question is, how much would it benefit to try to optimize the speed (AOA) and power similar to the Voyager. I know the detail-itus is a little overkill but it is still interesting to ruminate about.
If i remember reading the book correctly, the Voyager initially cruised at about 132 knots with both engines at full power. They gradually reduced power and around the 4th day shut down the front engine and on the last run back into Mojave were at a low power setting at about 92 knots. Those speeds gave them that AOA but I don’t know how they knew what speed to hold or if they were using an AOA indicator. I understood that after 9 days they landed with about 12 gallons and wouldn’t have made it if not holding that min-drag AOA.
I know there’s a real name for it. There are several distinct AOAs like best L/D etc. and I hope someone will enumerate a few of them here along the way, in particular those that are meaningful for us.
So that’s my motivation. But after we digest these interesting morsels, there is still an approach issue related to AOA and speed and stuff.
I know we are all spiffing up the birds for big O. Good spiffing!

Hangar Flying / Re: The Voyager Constant
« on: July 11, 2012, 11:18:56 AM »
  "The aircraft always stalls at the same critical angle of attack." Thanks Vandy12!

I like it. A profound, useful statement. A truth that you can sink your teeth into and use.
   ...I am perusing the three pages of notes here in front of me. Which way to go...?
How about this-
How did the pilots of the Voyager determine that AOA. Did they have an AOA indicator? Did they use a speed schedule?
What power schedule did they use?

(At the end of my three pages of notes there are a couple of practical ways to use this info. But hopefully we won' skip too many interesting factors along the way - Like the airspeed thing you mentioned Brian)
- How did they determine how to hold that AOA, hour to hour, day to day?
- How did power play into the plan?
- What was the initial cruise speed?
- What was the final cruise speed

Thanks for playing   :)

Hangar Flying / Re: The Voyager Constant
« on: July 10, 2012, 02:06:19 PM »
We are one step along the path here. AOA is significant.
True or false, an airfoil (or aircraft) always stalls at the same angle/AOA.
If true, what would be a cause for, a Cessna 120 for example, to stall on one flight at 50 mph, and 85 on another flight?

Hangar Flying / Re: The Voyager Constant
« on: July 09, 2012, 09:10:39 PM »

Bill   :)

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