Canard Flight Academy Flies Again!
Updated: May 31
Danny King bought a LongEZ last fall and came to the Canard Flight Academy to get some transition training. It was a busy day with Rick Finney and I flying with several Pilots who came to Covington to get in canard transition training before the Thanksgiving holiday. Danny hitched a ride with Dave Wolford, who owns Steve Wrights one of a kind StaggerEZ and was coming up to visit Jetguys for the day. It was going to be a quick opportunity for Danny to get in a canard lesson. After briefing Danny’s first flight we were doing the preflight on the Speed Canard when my heart sank. Looking at one of the blades on the MT prop there was a big gouge in the inboard rubber blade protector and a barely perceptible crack. We obviously picked up a significant piece of FOD.
“Herbie” (as the Speed Canard got nicknamed), the workhorse of the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience Canard Flight Academy, was grounded. Danny and Dave flew back to Texas and the RAFE gang wondered what to do next.
MT makes a great propeller but they are expensive to buy and repair. As a 501c3 non-profit RAFE struggles to pay the bills, now we faced a big one. All the revenue generated by the Canard Flight Academy stays with the Canard Flight Academy and we’d flown a lot in 2019, but not enough to pay for a MT prop. Not only that, the holidays were around the corner and things like prop overhauls get slowed down. There was a positive though that this hadn’t happened in the summer peak of our flying season; we had time to figure this out. Still, how would we pay for this? I spent the next few weeks communicating with MT headquarters in Germany and several authorized MT repair stations in the US. Like most these things, no one could tell exactly what it would cost until they got the prop into their shop and took a look at it. We had no way to know if we’d need a new blade, if any of the other blades were damaged or it might be a simple repair. It was a roll of the dice. Being a 501c3 non-profit didn’t mean much to MT Headquarters in Germany. A few of the US repair stations were empathetic. Shipping a prop is never cheap though so we balanced any discounts offered against distance to ship. Still, we were scratching our heads trying to figure out how to pay for this. Then the week before Christmas a miracle occurred. I was going through RAFEs mail when I noticed an envelope with a return address I recognized as a friend and fellow EZ driver. I didn’t know this person to be the kind to send out Christmas cards so I wondered what it might be. Inside was a check for $5000! I’d love to give this person credit but he prefers to be a low key supporter of RAFE. His timing couldn’t have been better and I have no idea how to express enough gratitude. OMG, He saved the day! The MT shop we chose was Texas Aircraft Propeller at the Pearland Regional Airport near Houston. http://txairprop.com/ Jetguys volunteered to pull off the prop, box it up and put it on a truck. Then you know what happened, the corona virus thing slowed everything to a crawl. Jason Falzon is owner of Texas Aircraft Propeller. A shop is a reflection of a mans work and his shop is spotless! The people that work at TexAir are very professional. Heather kept us informed of the props progress. The hub had to be sent to Germany, which slowed things down, but the rest went smoothly. They were able to repair the blade. The prop looks brand new. The best part is they really went to an extreme to help RAFE out and it turned out to be way more reasonable than we expected. Thank you Texas Aircraft Propeller! If you’ve read some of our other testimonials of our Sponsors you’ll know this is one thing we do not take lightly. Sponsors of RAFE are what make our existence possible but as a policy we only accept Sponsors that we have done business with and truly believe in their product or service. Texas Aircraft Propeller is one of those businesses. TexAir Prop is the “OFFICIAL” MT Prop shop of the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience!
The truck dropped of the prop last week. A few hours later I took the Speed Canard up for a test flight. The RAFE Canard Flight Academy is back in business!
Wednesday Danny King drove up from Texas to pick up where we left off last fall. Today he headed home with 3.1 hours of front seat time in a tandem seat canard and soaked up a lot of knowledge hanging around the Jetguys shop. Danny says before flying his own LongEZ he’ll come back and finish the program which gets him checked out in RAFEs Jim Madsen LongEZ. Nowhere else can you get this kind of training!
The RAFE Speed Canard is the only standard category tandem seat canard that’s equipped with a full set of dual flight controls and complies with FAR 91.109. We have become recognized by several insurance underwriters for our training. The down time getting that prop repaired created a backlog of Pilots seeking canard transition training. We’re going to busy, so busy that we’re looking for additional instructors. If you are a highly experienced LongEZ/Varieze Pilot with a CFI please contact us.
Founder and President
Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience