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  • Ryszard Zadow

Thanksgiving, Paul Adrien and RAFE's 10th airplane!

In June of 1980 Paul Adrien started building a LongEZ. December 1981 he was finished. Eighteen months and one of the first dozen LongEz"s built from plans to fly. In this day and age of “quick build” airplane kits here’s living proof that ANY Rutan composite design can be a “quick build” kit as long as you have the mindset to make it one. (see RAFE article: Quick Build is a State of Mind).

Over the last 41 years Paul Adrien put 2400 hours on his LongEZ, a lifetime of satisfaction from a year and half of dedication. That is truly the payoff for building an airplane or anything that is your dream. Never give up on your dreams.

Imagine all the adventures Paul has had over 41 years of flying his dream machine. Early in his LongEZ flying career Paul led a three airplane LongEZ Flight Demonstration Team called the Northeast EZ Flyers. Their act highlighted the performance of the LongEZ and they even got paid to do it! Other than the French REVA team this must be the only other professional LongEZ airshow team I’ve ever heard of. In the mid 90’s Paul mentioned to fellow EZ driver Norm Howell the 20the anniversary of Burt’s arriving at OSH with the Varieze was coming up.

Paul suggested something needed to be done to commemorate this event and the idea for a mass flyover was born. Thanks to their efforts, in the 1995 Oshkosh airshow 36 Ez’s flew before the airshow crowd in a mass formation that became known as the “Glass Overcast”. I’m honored to have been in that flight and owe that opportunity to Paul.

Last spring I got an email from a friend who knew Paul and suggested I reach out to him to answer questions he had about the possibility of donating his LongEZ to RAFE. On the way home from Sun-n-Fun in the newly donated Jack Wilhelmsen Cozy I stopped by Leesburg airport and visited with Paul. Over the next few months Paul and I discussed the details of making his LongEZ part of RAFE’s fleet. This is not an easy decision. A homebuilt airplane becomes part of your family, part of your life story. Ultimately he decided donating his LongEZ was the right fit. Earlier this month I spent several days with Paul and his wife Barbara. I tried to learn everything I could about them and their airplane.

On departure day Paul and Barbara stood beside the runway watching as his LongEZ disappeared over the horizon with the only other Pilot that's ever flown it in 41 years. What an honor for me to be that Pilot. It has to be like seeing a child driving off to college to start their own new life, hoping you might see them again soon. Once again I’ve had the unique pleasure of getting to know incredible people and RAFE becoming the caretaker of their dream and taking on the responsibility of keeping that dream alive.

Paul Adrien’s LongEZ is the 10th flying airplane to join the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience. Though we are the promoters and preservers of Burt Rutan designs, our real purpose is inspiration. These designs have always been inspirational, but in the end, they are just machines. It’s the people that made and flew these airplanes that the inspiration comes from. How could anyone not be inspired by 18 months to build and 41 years of flying!

Every one of our ten airplanes come with an amazing story about a person that had a dream and brought that dream to reality. David Brown spent 30 years building his beautiful LongEZ, but never gave up. Martin Kennedy dreamed of building an award winning LongEZ and won the Wright Brothers Award for his effort. Sid Tolchin built a LongEZ and then flew it to Ireland. This Thanksgiving we give thanks to Paul Adrien and his family, and all the families that have supported Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience with the airplanes and their stories so we can continue to inspire others to achieve their dreams.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Ryszard Zadow

Founder and President

Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience

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