top of page
  • Ryszard Zadow

RAFE Christmas Presents!

Updated: Jan 8

Two weeks ago, RAFE Houston Canard Base Volunteers George Choquette, Scott Kearby and I went to Dallas to meet with Leon Rousch and his family. Leon completed a Varieze in 1986 that was light and simple. It has an O-200 with no starter, no alternator, a manual nose gear and the early tiny tire with the "football" wheel pants. It even has a nav/com that was built from a kit, the then very popular RST kit avionics company!

It’s a true classic and Leon flew it everywhere. He started building it when based at Shaw AFB in South Carolina while he was flying F-4’s. He and his daughter took trips in it and flew from coast to coast and to Mexico. Mrs. Nita Rousch told us a story of how they built an addition to their house in SC which was supposed to be her den, but the first thing that went in it was the Varieze project!

The Rousch Varieze is a perfect example of how a homebuilt airplane, especially a Rutan design, becomes part of the family. We are excited and humbled to have the Rousch Varieze as part of the RAFE fleet now and look forward to getting it flying again.

A week later, I met with Britton Shaw in Ft, Smith Arkansas to accept the donation of another Varieze. Britton Shaw and his friend Jim Cox are already a squadron of Ez’s. Britton has three Variezes and a Velocity in his hangar alone.

His regular ride has been flying a Varieze built by Larry Reeves in Alachua, Florida in 1986. Several months ago he experienced an engine failure which put him on an interstate highway! His skills as canard Pilot allowed him and the airplane to land without a scratch. With all the other airplanes in his collection Britton decided to donate this beautiful Reeves Varieze to RAFE and we are happy to have it.

Amazingly, RAFE’s fleet now totals 20 airplanes. Not all are currently flying, like the two recent Varieze’s, but they all have their place in the restoration line. One we want to see fly again very much is our beloved VariViggen, "Lady Vi". Repairs have been going on. All the damage to the underside of the fuselage is already complete and the nose gear system is repaired and operational. For the first time since last July’s engine failure and dead stick landing Lady Vi once again stands on all three gear. Replacing or repairing the engine is our biggest challenge but this week RAFE got an incredible Christmas present that will help Lady Vi fly once more. A benevolent RAFE Member reached into his own pocket and purchased an engine for Lady VI with the agreement that RAFE will, when able, buy the engine.

RAFE will have to sell a lot of t-shirts to make that happen but we will do what needs to be done and get Lady Vi back in the air! The new engine is being fitted to Lady Vi and there’s no doubt we will have the world’s only flying VariViggen flying again shortly after the new year.

All of this seems like a Christmas

miracle but it's only possible because these airplanes attract the best people! RAFE started eight years ago as a crazy idea to help keep Burt Rutans homebuilt designs from fading away and look what that crazy idea has accomplished! With the help of a small group of volunteers RAFE has grown to a fleet of 20 airplanes. With the help of a few more volunteers, we can get them ALL flying.

The Christmas spirit is upon us and we’re blessed to have such a great extended family of Rutan enthusiast. Thank you and Merry Christmas!


Ryszard Zadow

President, RAFE

Please support Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience, Donate Here

556 views0 comments


bottom of page