This past year has had so many great moments and great people. The most memorable and important was the awesome gift from the family of David Brown. The Brown family’s donation of David Browns beautiful LongEZ was significant and symbolic in so many ways. It completely validated the concept of the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience. There’s no longer any doubt that what we seek to accomplish can be done. It takes that first step, that “leap of faith”, to look forward towards your vision. Without all the support from those that shared this vision it would’ve never happened. Unending thanks to the Brown family.
The great network of Canard people has proven invaluable. Canardians around the globe have stepped up and helped at the right moment to allow us to keep making progress. Without people wearing our T-shirts and talking about the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience, Mike Brown and Todd Hensley wouldn’t have been directed to us and started a conversation about what to do with their family’s project. Todd Hensley facilitated the donation of the Varieze project of his father, Dwayne Hensley. We take great pride in becoming the caretakers of Dwayne’s project. Once again it validates the concept. The Hensley family now has the security that Dwayne’s lifetime of work will carry on educating the public about these great airplanes by keeping them in the forefront of homebuilt aviation. Thank you Todd, Dwayne and the entire Hensley family for believiing in us. Thanks to Dug Hurd and Ray Parker who stepped up to collect and store the Hensley Varieze for us. Big Thanks to Chris Calovini and Jamie Hicks who braved 6 degree temperatures to pick up the entire project and O-200 engine and transport it to Chris’s airplane paint facility, AV8 aircraft painting, in Marion Ohio.
Another significant donation was a Velocity donated to us by Proxy Technologies. Though not a true Rutan design, we felt obligated to accept this donation due to the aircrafts unique history. Proxy developed the first autonomously flown canard aircraft that was a competitor to the Predator UAV. Once again Canardians stepped up to help. Moving a Velocity airframe is no small task and many, many thanks to Fred Wimberly and Ron Springer who dis-assembled the Velocity, secured a place to store it in Cumberland Maryland and transported it there. We’d love to see this unique aircraft fly again so please pass the word about it.
No donation goes unappreciated. We posted on Facebook recently asking for people to consider donating stuff they had around their hangars and boxes started to appear. Many thanks to Dan Fuerst and Liz Stevey. These parts will help complete the restoration of N1RZ, a Varieze donated to us last year by Laura Zahner who with her husband Robert built and flew N1RZ. This will become the first flying Varieze of the RAFE. Thank you, Laura, Doug, Liz and especially Ron Scarbro who towed a trailer all the way to Atlanta to retrieve 1RZ and bring it to our hangar workshop in Waller, Texas.
2016 ends with the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience having 3 flying LongEZ’s, one donated and two on loan, and two more donated airplanes that are so very close to being assembled and flown. Soon in 2017 we will have FIVE airplanes bearing the RAFE logo!
2017 is going to be an exciting year!
-We have two donated airplanes that will fly in 2017, 1RZ and Jim Madsen’s LongEZ, 83JM.
-We’re working with Tony Warnock to build a dedicated two seat LongEZ training aircraft and dual check out training program.
- Our manuals, which describe the way we do business, are being finalized.
-We’re going to finish the canard formation training program and get our own FAST credential.
- Most important, the CozyJet will FLY AGAIN! Lots of work is left to accomplish this goal. Standby for a fundraising campaign to help us over the last hurdles to repair and improve the CozyJet. We have engines identified, sponsors willing to give us components and improvements that not just improve safety but make the CozyJet more of a crowd pleaser than it even has been. The CozyJet is the one thing that brings attention to the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience like no other aircraft. Together with awesome airplanes like David Browns’ LongEZ and the other restorations the RAFE is doing we WILL put Burt Rutans designs back into center stage at OSH and other aviation venues. More importantly, as we grow and evolve we get closer to one of our major goals of developing a EZ FLIGHT DEMONSTRATION TEAM.
2017 already has a challenging list to accomplish and none of can be done without people and funding. Restoring aircraft takes time and money. Operating the airplanes donated to us takes time and money. Imagine what it will take to field a flight demonstration team? That takes skilled Pilots, committed people and sponsorship. Driven by the achievements of 2016, I have no doubt Canardians around the globe will help step up make these dreams reality. As you’ve heard me say many times before, I can’t fly all these airplanes by myself. Get involved, become an RAFE PILOT, SPONSOR or MENTOR. Look up, WAY UP because we ARE the “Homebuilts that led to Space” and we will continue to LEAD!
Founder and President.
Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience
Waller County Aviation Museum