Author Topic: What killed the Long EZ?  (Read 54703 times)

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Offline Bill James

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Re: What killed the Long EZ?
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2014, 10:27:18 PM »
Last Friday a spectacular VariEze flew a flawless first flight. The airplane started life several years ago in our hangar. Then the new owner spent a couple of years going through the plane. The detailed prep for the first flight covered several months. He endured several deliberate delays, patiently attending to minor glitches, gently nudging the aircraft and himself to readiness.  He called after the first flight with a couple of questions that he eventually pretty well answered himself. I declared it an official holiday in his name and got him to describe the indications, a great way to savor celebrating the big event. I hear from several other closet VariEze drivers pretty regularly.

Going back to your original questions;
I never requested help from RAF.
Seems that finding plans and parts and help all kinda fell into place once i started building. However, for the fifteen years I had the plans but hadn’t started building, I felt totally isolated, not being able to find or even see an Eze. When I did see a few at the Kerrville fly-in the pilots seemed too busy to notice me. I understand that now and suggest that I would and do totally welcome anyone to butt into our rampant discussions on the ramp. Just elbow your way in.

Though initially isolated, once I jumped in and started building, everything changed. The Internet was in its infancy then but they saw my name in the CSA roster as a new member and VariEze builder and started showing up. Lots of advice was offered on outdated parts, what kind of epoxy to use, some very pointed questions and answers on a few critical things – the self-policing thing - and then back to the light hearted fun and games. But you know, if they hadn’t come by, I would have figured out a way to get it done. Today, with the access to information…  BTW, any builder MUST read the first few CPs, as mentioned in the instructions. It took me three months going through all that to be ready to start building. If you don’t want to do that, well, you know….
So much for my personal experience on your questions.     

A few other thoughts,
So how is it owning any airplane, Eze or factory built?
One friend flies the heck out of his factory airplane. Every week he picks up and then returns his grandson two hours away. Once a month he flies way north for business. Then they fly out on a family vacation trip every few weeks or months. Actually his real airplane has been in annual for over three years with bad cylinders, now in a squabble with the engine company. So he bought another four seater in the interim.

Another friend pays to have his factory plane maintained while he barely flies it, wishing he still had his homebuilt.

Several friends have a partially built (non-eze) project in their hangar, untouched for several years.

Other friends have partially restored motorcycles and rusty antique coca-cola ice boxes sitting in honored places in their garage waiting for their special touch, untouched for several years. Several friends have partially restored cars, untouched for years.

The thought is, airplanes take time and attention, and life gets in the way of other things besides LongEZs.

Back to Ezes,
years ago I used to return from Eze fly-ins depressed because I felt I could never do what those guys had done. That “financial/time-required” gap is still there, but now it has shifted to when taxiing by a hangar secluding a sleek two-place turbine or such. But you know, in a way, I didn't do what those guys had done. Because of the personality of the plane, the gap is fairly painless especially after finishing up a pretty good year including the Burnet Texas GIG, Burall’s Colorado Springs fly-in, Oshkosh, Rough River, a very interesting flight home from RR, visits to see new grand-kids, and a few “That Was Fun” sunset runs for good measure. I tried but cant capture here what it means to spend time with some really special people... or the flights over some really special places....

For practicality, observations on the positives and negatives on design or time to build should probably include ramp time at these events. Standing on the ramp at Rough River I saw the usual new crop of beautiful Cozys, four Defiants i think, the beauty and efficiency of the LongEZ per Dave Adams and his endless builder rides, and our unsuccessful effort to get all seven VariEzes and twenty or so VEze drivers/builders in attendance in one spot for a picture. Next year.

While building the VariEze there were several times when there was no time or no money. The plane waited.
In recent years, with fifteen grandkids, we have gone to over a hundred baseball and soccer games a year. Last Saturday we watched the local soccer games here in the morning and then flew 1.5 hrs to Tulsa for two more soccer games.
When I was building and ran out of time or money, the plane sat there patiently and waited for me. It is sitting there waiting for me now. It’s a beautiful thing.

Great treasures are often buried under a thicket of challenges, designed for you… on purpose.
Bill James
« Last Edit: October 15, 2014, 07:35:50 AM by Bill James »
Bill James, Fort Worth VariEze N95BJ
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There was supposed to be anhedral?
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Offline Fred N.

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Re: What killed the Long EZ?
« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2014, 01:15:13 PM »
"Great treasures are often buried under a thicket of challenges, designed for you… on purpose."

Bill, you are amazing!  Builder, innovator, teacher, advisor and philosopher.  It was great to meet you at KFLY.  You fly a very impressive VEZ.  You've taken us with you more than once, right here in this forum.  I've loved it all.  When I finally met you, you are just like that in person.

I purchased a LEZ in 1993 from a fellow who had not long to live.  It was not the best I'd seen by a longshot, BUT, the main gear retracted.  I got it from him and flew it for a year, when the engine shelled out  in flight.  I turned for the home airport and came down about 10 miles short.  At about 100' above touchdown, this power line appeared in my front view indicating about 60 KIAS.  Monday a.m. quarterbacks have criticized me for not "ducking under".  I traded what IAS I had left for a 100' or so of level flight before the high rate of descent occurred.  The plane touched down hard.  My retractable main gear and the nose gear failed.

The damages other than that were negligible (scraped belly and top delamination of the wing skins,  lower cowl destroyed).  I was surprised at just how tough the LEZ is.  It had to sit for 7 years while I completed the rebuild of a certificated plane.  I now had 2 planes to rebuild. 

I was able to start on the rebuild in 2002.  Getting the new gear built and in place was morale building.  It could roll around on wheels again.  During the interim, rotary motors came into consideration because of a few pioneers who'd actually installed them in airplanes.  (My shelled out O-320 had, significant tinkering done to it to produce 200 Hp plus.)  The Mazda was advertised as capable of that power or more with supercharging.  To shorten the story, in 2004 I purchased a new RX8 motor and turbo.  I did get it mounted, but the design issues were overwhelming.  I got a 0 SMOH IO-320 and it is now mounted.  All the damages have been repaired and it has the first coat of primer.  I am doing a few improvements such as an oil cooler in front to warm my cold feet after 1:00 hours in flight.

I'm not a builder.  I am a rebuilder.  This is my 4th rebuild.  They take longer than a scratch build in MY opinion.  Projects are worse than a rebuild.  Duplication of parts already in the project happens too much in rebuilds or 2nd, 3rd, & 4th project takeovers.  I think your success in building a wonderful airplane is marvelous inspiration to all who see, listen and read.  The pay-off is exactly what you say in flying it after struggling through the build.

I reject the idea that "the LEZ is killed".  It is part of the evolution of the VEZ of which you possess one of the finest.  There are really quite a few of them and derivatives out there flying.  RV, Glassair, and Lancair are easier to do, but they are "just another plane" and not that unique.


Offline dorr

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Re: What killed the Long EZ?
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2014, 11:34:10 PM »
The Cozy III tends to be held down by the price of the cheapest Cozy IV, just as the Varieze prices are held down by the cheaper Long EZs.  I keep track of prices and we have more near $60,000 Long EZs now than ever before - there were years, not so long ago when only Dave Lind's plane was offered at $60,000.  The O-320s often go for $45,000 and above. 

I think it takes about 2500 hours to build a Long EZ, but more to build a lot of the kits out there.  The RV fast builds are pretty fast, but the final cost is much higher too. 

I keep track of unused Long EZ plans and lately I've found about 4 times more than I did any year in the last 10...so maybe that is a return to more building.  There are fast builders from scratch recently - Mullins, for example, and I keep finding builders still plodding along from the original offering of plans by Rutan.  We have a lot of support, lists of people who can give a ride, virtually all the parts are available just as my club had when we were building 100 Long EZs in Western half of Los Angeles...  There is simply nothing like the canards...

Beagle 949-939-1479(Cell) West Coast time.
David A.C.Orr
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Offline Radioflyer

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Re: What killed the Long EZ?
« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2014, 08:57:25 AM »
I don't really believe the Long Ez is as "dead" as is made out here. Significant number of plans were sold (thousand +), significant numbers have been completed and flown (700 +) , and significant numbers have  languished in construction or after being built. I believe it is these languished projects that more often you see being sold for cheap, although I have also seen an occasional true flightworthy bargain.

Even in its hey day, though, the design was "unique". One has to be somewhat educated in its special features for it to be truly appreciated. That is already a barrier to many tradionalists. The design was always more expensive in time and materials than metal airplanes, and that is even more of a factor today considering the poor state of the GA economy. Also, tandem seating is not preferred by most.

Unlike the ubiquitous RVs and true for even the Cozy Mk IV, the Long Ez is not being promulgated by anyone. In fact the design was abandoned due to unwarranted legal issues. The charismatic leaders of the type are now retired. Nevertheless, the plane is still being built, has a loyal following, and is still active in several forums. Even though the design is 40 years old, it still offers great performance and modern aerodynamics. By all accounts, this year's gatherings, such as at Oshkosh and Rough River, have all been well populated by the type.   Long live the Long Ez.

Offline dorr

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Re: What killed the Long EZ?
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2014, 05:19:16 PM »
I've seen an uptick in people looking for Long EZ plans - partly because some countries don't allow projects from other countries under their homebuilding rules. 

Whenever an American comes to me for Long EZ plans I send them an economic argument that suggests that a project will be much cheaper (and quicker) to get a flying airplane compared to paying for parts.

I keep lists of Long EZ projects and I hope I have the one mentioned above.

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David A.C.Orr
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www.canardfinder.com