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I heard through one of the lists that we lost Richard Riley. It sounds like complications due to the Flu back in mid-November. Many, many contributions to the canard movement.


He will be sorely missed.

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I heard through one of the lists that we lost Richard Riley. It sounds like complications due to the Flu back in mid-November. Many, many contributions to the canard movement.


He will be sorely missed.

Greatly saddened to hear

I Canardly contain myself!

Rich :D

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It's a very, very sad sad news, not only for a canard community, Richard was a Great Person, always willing to share his knowledge with others.

I really don't know what to say, I can't believe in it, it's so sad, I've read that he leaves a wife, and a 2 year old and a small infant.


Definitely he will be missed.


R.I.P Richard

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I have been trying to figure out what to say about the great guy that is Richard Riley. I have to say such untimely passings [dying in your sleep, as a 40 something fellow] just seem so incredible for such a nice little family. Such a sad thing . If I didnt have a firm feeling of an afterlife, it would be a very bitter taste to see such lights dim and go out for useless spent energy. I wish his family well, and reflect on a couple of his posts that I saved in the past and do post below regarding his personal experiences in commemorating and honoring a famous canard aviator who had passed. I saved them because they meant a lot to me..saying something about he who had passed, and Richard, who...well read on and see a bit into Richard.

God bless him, his family, and all those feel the same about life and love and what makes it truly go 'round.


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Richard Riley Richard Riley is offline



Join Date: Oct 2004

Location: Santa Ana

Posts: 84







Then a month ago Steve was playing a little coffeehouse in Pasadena. The

audience was largely invited, old time folksong fans and friends. My

girlfriend and I sat down, at our table was an older woman with a stack of handouts for a John Denver remembrance. A beach-clean up walk, a tree planting, sing alongs and a silent, candlelight vigil at 5:28 on Oct 12, the one year anniversary of the crash.


I had a Berkut jacket on.


After the show the conversation turned to Denver’s crash, what caused it, did he suffer. People gathered around. They were all fans, they wanted to know how he died. I gave them the story as accurately and compassionately as I could. They invited me and my girlfriend to participate. Girlfriend suggested I could fly up. In my Long EZ. Someone else asked if I could fly it past the crash site.


At that moment, in the dark surrounded by fanatics that I’d never met before, I knew what I had to do. When I got home I began calling EZ pilots. I wanted 5 - one spare, and four for a missing man formation.


I found 4. Long EZ pilots Catman and Pumba (who posts here as boatfly), Dave Ronneberg in the Berkut and Bram Arnold, retired F-18 pilot, in his Vari EZ. I didn’t include myself, I didn’t have enough formation flying time.


It fell apart last Thursday. Catman had a test, he couldn’t make it. I told

Dave I’d call Bram and Pumba and scrub. He looked at me over his half frames.


"Don’t be dramatic. We’ll practice over the weekend. You’ll fly #2."


So, while Badwater, O-Rings and Rick were terrorizing the crowd gathered at

Williams, I was terrifying Dave and the good people of Santa Paula, turning

lazy 8’s with my nose 8 feet from Dave’s wingtip.


Monday. We were going to pick up Bram at Hanford and Pumba at Watsonville, but Pumba showed up at our shop at Noon. Al Staats was going to ride in the back of Berkut and get photos, but his son has an iffy stomach, Al drops and Misha takes his place. Kelly Kilmartin, my partner in the Enterprise, is in my back seat.


We departed at 1:50, and overflew Hanford at 2:55. We got in a tight formation on the way to Monterey, spending about 20 minutes in a fingertip with 10 foot separation. We spread out and reformed echelon right as we got close to Monterey Airport. The wouldn’t let us land in formation but gave us a right break for 28L.


We landed at 3:50. We were met by a reporter from the local Fox affiliate, who shot a couple of talking heads to wrap around the live shot they were planing from the beach. We got a rental car map of the area and the reporter showed us the spot where the people were gathered. We checked our levels - oil, bladder and M&M’s - and adjusted as needed. We were off the ground at 5:10. Bram first, then me 15 seconds later, Dave and Pumba.


We formed up in a left echelon, turning right and climbing to 2500’. We kept

circling to the right, waiting, making a "low approach" (honest, that’s what

the tower called it) level at 2500. At 5:18 we extended the upwind leg out toward where the crowd was gathered, to verify that we understood where they - and everything else, like ships in the bay - were. I transferred underneath to Bram’s right side, then we turned back to the airport. We made two more circles, then told the Tower we were making our run.


Over the airport, throttle back to 2000 rpm, trim slightly forward and begin

the descent. Bram calls us in tighter - we’re still on tower frequency so we only respond with our flight numbers. We pass over a destroyer in the bay at about 800’, continue descending to 200’, 500’ off shore. The rocks in the water assure us there won’t be any boats beneath us.


We come up on the site at 170 kts - much slower than we could do wide open, but this gives Pumba, in his 320 Long EZ, plenty of throttle margin. Bram was watching the shoreline while we watched him, he called a countdown to Dave’s pull away.


Dave opened the throttle and pulled back. The time was 5:28 exactly. He was at 2/3 fuel, a very cruise prop and had two on board, so it wasn’t a space shuttle launch - he pulled up to about 45 degrees and went to 3000 feet in about 30 seconds. We rolled right, over the ocean, and started turning. I was thankful for a back seater to watch the water - I was flying welded wing and the turn dropped me toward the water some. A tight 270, at a 50 degree bank or so, climbing, so as we flew over the crowd in a 3 ship we were at 1000 feet and climbing away into the sun.


We regrouped for the flight home, Bram left after a few minutes and headed for Hanford. As we flew the sun moved between layers, streaking the sky with deep crimson and blue. It was the most spectacular sunset I’ve seen in years. I don’t have a John Denver tape for my airplane, we flew home to Bob Segar, The B-52’s, Roy Orbison and Larenna McKenna. I’ll have to put his greatest hits in the map box.


When I got home there was a message waiting for me. One of the organizers called from Monterey, and said that as we flew over every bird in the

area took off and followed us. A few minutes later, as they were putting out

their candles, a rainbow appeared.


It was as perfect a day flying as I’ve ever had. I flew better than I ever

have before, surrounded by pilots who cut me no slack at all. My only wish is that we had not been flying to say goodby.


But we were. Goodbye, John.


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Richard Riley Richard Riley is offline



Join Date: Oct 2004

Location: Santa Ana

Posts: 84


I posted this in Rec.Aviation.Homebuilt in 1998




Some folks have been asking why I didn’t make it to Copperstate. This is on

the longish side, but here it goes.


It started just over a year ago, on my way back from Oshkosh ‘97. We were

just out of bankruptcy, didn’t have a nickel in the bank, so we’d decided not

to have a booth. We just went to Oshkosh, took Misha’s 540 Berkut and

John Danials’ 360, went to forums, walked the exhibit halls and had a

blast. John left early, Monday morning, for Jackson Hole, Wy.



We got a call that night - he’d had an electrical failure. No damage, but we

needed to fly Jackson Hole to check it out on our way to LA. It turned out to be nothing, but while we were working on his plane a very pretty brunet drove up in a red Le Barron.


A blond man stepped out of the passenger’s side. "Hey! Like your



We recognized him. You couldn’t miss him, even without glasses, and his hair

longer than in his heyday. "Thanks! Like your music!" John Denver walked

over to us.


We’d heard from the local avionics shop that Denver was looking for a

nice Long EZ to buy, so he could commute from Aspen to Los Angeles,

to the Bay where his son was. He poured over the Berkuts on the ramp,

replying with an involuntary "far out!" after every spec we rattled off. We

offered him a flight, he was clearly tempted but begged off. He had a

charity fund raiser in the next town he had to get to. He took our cards

and told us he’d call the next time he was in LA.


We didn’t hear from him. He found an EZ to buy, a fast one with all the

bells and whistles. I found his autobiography remaindered at Crown and

bought it for $3 - a first edition. I don’t think there was a second edition.

I thought if he owned and EZ, sooner or later I’d get the chance to

ask him to autograph it. Then, something strange. My girlfriend and I are

invited to dinner by an old friend of hers, Hellen Stapenhorst. On their

bookshelf, the same book - "Take me Home." Autographed, with a very personal inscription.


Steve Stapenhorst, Hellen’s husband, was a 60’s folk singer who sang with

John Denver hundreds of times. He suggested that Denver record "Thank

God I’m a Country Boy." I told him about our meeting, and John’s

airplane, we marveled at the decreasing size of the earth.


The next weekend I was driving to my Girlfriend’s on Sunday night.

There was a news report that an ultralight airplane owned by John Denver

had crashed, but Denver himself was in Aspen. I called around, the

consensus was that Denver’s plane wasn’t out of the paint shop yet.


Monday morning I drove into work and heard on the radio that he’d been

flying the airplane when it went down in Monterey bay. An EZ, Denver had been identified from fingerprints. I called Mike, my office manager, from the car to let him know. He knew. "Hard Copy" was waiting for me. We were still listed in the LA phone book as "Experimental Aviation, Inc." and suddenly every news organization in LA was calling us for quotes and footage.


Mike and I were alone in the building that week. Dave was in the Philippines

with Misha, working with a customer on his Berkut, we were pretty much closed that week. So instead of putting Dave, the real expert, on camera, I got my 15 minutes of fame. CBS, NBC, ABC, the local affiliates, 3 local independents, Time, Newsweek, CNN, The Economist That night I was on three different LA stations simultaneously. For the truly adventurous reporters, who wanted to see what it was like to fly an EZ first hand, I made contact with Maj. Norm Howell, TPS instructor and EZ pilot. He made it on another 6 outlets, including 4 networks. Between us, and a few other EZ pilots scattered across the country, we got the message out - the EZ is a safe plane, with a record as good or better than any Cessna, or motorcycle. It worked. The only "hit" piece was the one that didn’t use footage shot with Norm or me. Hard Copy’s "Scarecraft." But it was short, and lame, and ignored.


There were mistakes. Bryant Gumbal, on "Public Eye," called the airplane an

"EZ Long." The Today show did a piece on accident rates among experimental airplanes and included footage of Charlie Hillard’s Sea Fury nosing over at Lakeland - I was in the office when the cut it into the story and tried my hardest to convince them to leave it out, to no avail. But Time got the story exactly, excruciatingly right. I called the writer there to thank him.


Time passed, the story faded off the front page. Fewer and fewer people asked "Is that the kind of airplane John Denver was flying?" when we went to


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I think its really sad the words in the text headings/footer whatever, ''Richard Riley is offline"...I am sure he would have loved to continue on in his pursuits here with his family and life...let us all be mindful of our time here, and how we spend it. The eternal 'offline'' status is waiting. As a whole our canard community is a pretty great group of people, I am glad to be a part of this, and have had the ce to rubs shoulders with guys like Richard, and many of you. Thanks.

Rileys tribute to John Denver.txt

Self confessed Wingnut.

Now think about it...wouldn't you rather LIVE your life, rather than watch someone else's, on Reality T.V.?

Get up off that couch!!! =)


Progress; Fuselage on all three, with outside and inside nearly complete. 8 inch extended nose. FHC done. Canard finished. ERacer wings done with blended winglets. IO540 starting rebuild. Mounting Spar. Starting strake ribs.

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News of Richard's passing left me stunned and emotional. What a tragic loss for his family and our community.


Richard and I exchanged an occassional email and I always had the sense he was building something special. Attached is picture Richard posted of his instrument panel a couple years back on the [C-A] mailing list -- just to give a hint of what surely would have been a special airplane.


Very sad.


Jon Matcho :busy:
Builder & Canard Zone Admin
Now:  Rebuilding Quickie Tri-Q200 N479E
Next:  Resume building a Cozy Mark IV

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