The Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience gathered together a unique group of aircraft for AirVenture 2019. Present on Wittman field for display and fly in the airshow were a Quickie, Solitaire. VariViggen, Varieze, LongEZ, Defiant and Catbird! Such a gathering created lots of possibilities and one even that was grasped was the chance to fly these aircraft together in formation. It was an effort to re-enact the formation flight of all the Rutan designs done in Mojave a few years ago, but has never been done over Oshkosh.
RAFE has assembled a group that flies formation regularly and the Catbird Pilot Zach Reeder also held a FAST card. The formation had great talent. Due to the performance limits of the Quickie and Solitaire it would take some practice to try and include them so the final lineup was the VariViggen, Varieze, Longez and Catbird. EAA coordinated the mission and provided the photo plane.In the darkness of Saturday morning, while most OSH campers still slept the group prepared their planes, briefed and cranked engines at 0600.
Led by the VariViggen, the formation departed runway 18R.
The formation rendezvoused with the photo plane over nearby lake Butte de Morte. For the next 45 minutes the formation flew over Oshkosh letting the photographers in the photo plane direct the flight. The final segment was a diamond with Catbird in the slot and AirVenture in the background. (Watch the video below!)
When the cameras stopped clicking the flight broke up and Catbird, VariViggen and Varieze headed home while the RAFE LongEZ recovered to OSH.
Watch the video and look for great photos of this flight in upcoming issues of Sport Aviation!
Lead: VariViggen, Charles Spinelli and Mark Hastings
#2: Varieze, Leif Johnson
#3: LongEz, Ryszard Zadow
#4: Catbird, Zach Reeder