I was disappointed that, upon my return to San Diego, I was unable to stop at Mojave to inform you of our Atlantic adventure. Gene Scott, of Plane Doc at Gillespie Field, is a very good friend of mine and had convinced me to join a partnership with Ed Esteb and Bill Hargis in a Long-EZ which we completed in March of this year after four and a half years of building. We had a great deal of help from Robby Grove and a number of the people at the EZ club in San Diego and it's not possible to list all of the people who participated in the fabrication and modification of this fine machine. It has the new canard, the "almost-constant-speed" prop, a Lycoming 0-235 L2C rebuilt with F pistons, and the Avionics package is IFR with Loran and HF. After testing and a few design changes, I flew it to Shannon Airport (Ireland) and back via Greenland and Iceland this month. Except for the collapse of a nose gear at Narsarsuaq, Greenland, during a 29-knot shifting crosswind landing with almost full fuel tanks, a broken field wire, also in Greenland, and the replacement of an alternator at Omaha on the way back, the plane performed flawlessly.
Obviously, none of these were design problems. Gene accompanied me in Jerry Hansen's Cessna 182RG from San Diego to Narsarsuaq, Greenland, where he had to leave it and proceed commercially on Iceland Air when his fuel requirements rendered continuation unwise. He picked it up on the way back. He was more than a little upset that he didn't take his own Long-EZ but he and Jerry were not keen for the possible loss of their own fine aircraft. I did want to let you know that the plane was flown in heavy rain and, unavoidably, some icing. In both conditions, and even with a thin film of ice or ice droplets on both the leading and trailing edges of the canard and main wing, there was no detectable loss of control or tendency towards stall or loss of lift as we had noted with the earlier canard. I did experience the need for slightly more excursion of the stick to accomplish gentle turns but this was almost negligible.
The lowest temperatures I could measure at 12,000 feet over the Greenland Ice Cap were in the range of minus 25 degrees Celsius. The engine wasn't overjoyed and I needed full carb heat to keep it running smoothly and CHT above 300 degrees. I haven't yet been able to figure that out unless there was some moisture in the fuel. There was no visible moisture over the cap. I had fabricated a cup ice protector over the elevator counterweights on the underside of the canard and I'm happy I did. The Loran worked fine wherever it was available. I installed a centerline antenna behind the canopy between the fuel vents when our built-in winglet Loran antenna proved unsatisfactory.
I installed window screen under the seats from the avionics panel to the firewall with a common ground for groundplane. We had previously imbedded copper strips in the wings for an ADF groundplane and I believe this enhanced the Loran reception as well. The longest overwater was eight hours in fairly strong headwinds from Rekjavik to Shannon in Ireland. Stornoway was "closed " and I decided to dogleg it directly. I landed with over two hours of fuel still in the tanks. I'll take the chance of incurring your wrath to tell you that, with all the Emergency Gear, including a raft and minimum Transport Canada requirements, 2 ELT's and a hand-held Terra 720, an HF and full-panel VHF, VOR, Transponder, Loran, DME and a hand-held Marine DDF, exposure suit, minimum clothing baggage, tools and full tanks on every takeoff, with an empty weight of 965 lbs., I was probably a "little over gross"!
The only time I felt it, though, was at Grand Canyon, on the way back, at 6600 feet and 87 degrees F on the ground. 97 hours , 16,000 miles, an average of 130 knots and 10 plus 30 endurance, occasional IMC, and an unending supply of open mouths and cheering were present at each stop for the unbelievable genius of a guy named Burt Rutan. Everybody I ran into knew your name and your achievements. I never once had any doubts about the design capabilities of this plane and I'm looking forward to your next breakthrough. Thanks for letting me break out of my own closed world into an unforgettable adventure. With highest personal regard, very sincerely yours,
Sidney Tolchin, M.D. La Mesa, CA