We’d just fueled up the airplane and I was loading up to go when the young man that drove the fuel truck at Mount Pleasant airport turned to my friend Jack and said “I honestly always thought your name was Jack Cozy!”
That’s the way everyone at the Mount Pleasant S.C. airport knows Jack Wilhelmson and everyone does know him. He’s rather famous at KLRO. Jack started building his Cozy Mk III in 1984 and finished it in 1986. I way too often hear people say they’d like to build a Rutan design but it takes too long. That’s a misconception. Two years to build an airplane like this is not much different than it takes most people to finish a typical popular quick build kit. (See the article on the RAFE website titled: Quick-build is a State of Mind ) Since 1986 Jack has flown is Cozy everywhere, day, night, IFR, VFR. He built it to fly it and he was the first to build a Cozy Mk III. His airplane is serial number ONE.
Jack has done a lot more in the Canard world than just build a Cozy III. When Burt Rutan first sold plans for his designs he contracted with a fabricator named Ken Brock to supply most the metal parts such as aileron bellcranks, engine mounts, landing gear pivot castings ect. You didn’t have to buy these parts from Ken Brock, I know several people that made their own, but these “aftermarket parts” would facilitate the completion of the aircraft for those that don't have machining skills. Everything else in a Rutan design is literally built by hand. This is what sets these airplanes apart from “kit” airplanes. Unfortunately Ken Brock passed away leaving no one to keep these parts available.
Jack Wilhelmson, with his background as an engineer and machinist stepped up and started supplying these parts. He also started his own line of nose gear actuators that are used to raise the nose from the parked position. EZ Nose Lifts are standard equipment on most all EZ's and is still in business today (http://eznoselift.com/)
Earlier this week I met with Jack in Mount Pleasant. I got to see the EZ Nose lift shop and meet Alice who makes the wiring harness for the EZ Nose Lift.
We got to visit and tinker with his airplane for a few days. I really enjoyed hanging out with him and hearing about his adventurous life. Yesterday I bid farewell and departed KLRO headed south to Florida in Jacks Cozy. At 87 Jack decided it was time to hang up his flying spurs and donated his airplane to RAFE. This morning I arrived at Sun-N-Fun.
RAFE is committed to carry on the legacy of Jacks accomplishments as we do with all the aircraft we become the caretakers of. It’s our pleasure to be at Sun-n-Fun and announce, the eighth flying EZ donated to the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience.
If you’re at Sun-n-Fun come see the Jack Wilhelmsons Cozy III. We’re parked on the front line of the homebuilt parking right across from the Seaplane Pilots Association tent.
Founder and President
Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience