Leaving OSH 2020 behind...
At this moment last year I was standing on a Oshkosh Forum stage with a cast of rock stars in the homebuilt airplane world. If you’ve not seen that video please do, its enlightening. (Click Here to see it! )
My hope was to be there again today, but as we all know, the world has changed. Who would’ve ever envisioned a year without Oshkosh? So much has been written about it that I won’t belabor the point and besides, my focus is the success of the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience and what our future holds. RAFE might be an “aviation museum” styled organization, but we’re not as much about the past as we are about the future of these airplanes, and the people that build them. Just to put things into perspective though I would like to look back a little:
Five years ago today I was standing in Boeing Square next to the world’s only homebuilt composite canard jet, Kerosene Dreams, aka The CozyJet!
By the end of that week I hardly had a voice left. I talked to literally thousands of people telling them about this non-profit organization I just founded that’s mission was “The preservation and promotion of Burt Rutan designs”. A lot of people wished me well, more than a few told me I was nuts. I was really hoping that this week, five years later, I’d be standing there again and prove that I was nuts enough to make this work. Alas, no OSH and still no CozyJet repaired.
Five years later look... what’s been accomplished!
We've had a fleet of airplanes donated to RAFE, five that fly; three LongEZ’s, a Varieze and a Speed Canard, with a Quickie, VariViggen and Defiant waiting for restoration. Short just a Soltiare, we're so close to our goal of having one flying example of each of Burts homebuilt designs!
We created the Canard Flight Academy, the only place in the world you can train and fly a Rutan canard.
With no OSH this year I spent this week in Covington and minted another new LongEZ Pilot, Tim Dyer who flew the Speed Canard to proficiency and then took to the skies in the RAFE Jim Madsen LongEZ.
If RAFE does nothing else, the ability to properly train people to fly these airplanes is a huge success, especially in the light of Dick VanGrunsven's comments about the safety record of “Orphaned designs”. (See the previously mentioned video for Dicks guiding words )
Last year we gathered together the entire lineup of Burt's homebuilt designs and had them present at OSH. Flying all but the Solitiare in the airshow was something never done before. The "Rutan Reunion" airshow presentation was a hit and we were asked to do it at Sun-n-Fun and other airshows.
We flew formation flights and photo-flights and made the cover or Sport Aviation! That cover picture even made to this month’s Air and Space magazine!
All that was ground breaking stuff for RAFE but we don’t rest on our laurels, we will always be building on our accomplishments. What we had planned for Airventure 2020 was even better and 2021 has huge possibilities but RAFE’s position is “Why wait till next year?” We’re not letting this slow us down.
Rough River is not your typical flyin. Like migratory birds that always return to their roost, it’s just a place we gather at the end of each September.
The'res no group that "runs" Rough River. We just show up and totally imerse ourselves in the company of our friends and our planes.
There’s a few things that require someones attention to make Rough River happen and Nick Ugolini had done that for years. Last year he passed that torch over to me. Nothing will change but starting this year Rough River will have a sponsor, RAFE.
Normally at the end of today I’d be strapping on whatever canard I flew to OSH and headed home. So we didn’t get to have an OSH this year, either way, it would be over and gone. Let's not sit around waiting to for next year. Join up and fly with RAFE, see you at Rough River!
Founder and President
Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience