2018 RAFE Presidents Letter of Thanks and state of the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience.
Looking back at 2018 it would be improper for me to say I couldn’t imagine things getting better, I imagine a lot of things for RAFE and as each year goes by we build upon the successes of the previous year. I will admit though, I did not imagine some of the things that we did in 2018. What a GREAT YEAR!
Fleet and Organizational Growth
In 2018 we grew our fleet by four airplanes, a Varieze, two Q-1 Quickies and the Speed Canard. The Varieze, built by Steve Franseen, was donated to us by its last owner Dr. Bob Jamsky. This is one of the nicest Varieze’s we’ve ever seen and it will be going up for Sponsorship the first part of this year. We’re excited to see this one fly so those interested in sponsoring a nice airplane please brush up on the Sponsorship Program manual available on the website and get your applications in!
One of our objectives is to have at least one flying example of each of Burt’s homebuilt designs and a Quickie has been on list for a long time. At the very end of 2017 we had a Quickie project donated to us but time and funding have held that one in the rafters for now. Towards the very end of 2018 though things rapidly changed in our quest for a flying Q1. While I was in China flying in the China Cup Air Races RAFE supporter Tom Wright contacted me telling me about a Q-1 available near him. We coordinated efforts literally across the globe and acquired a nice Quickie that hadn’t flown in a long time, but was complete, less an engine and came with a trailer. Upon my return from China Tom surprised me again by finding another Q-1 in Ohio that had been damaged, is rebuildable and has an engine and spare parts! Tom once again facilitated the donation of this aircraft. Tom and Tony Wornock got together and have moved the first Q-1 to Tony’s shop in St Elmo, Alabama. Tony has offered to help with the Quickies and I don’t doubt we’ll see a flying Q-1 soon and a St. Elmo Canard Base!
The Speed Canard was an absolute miracle and I can’t express enough gratitude to the donor. One of RAFE’s biggest hurdles has been flight training. The lack of a bonafide two seat trainer in the tandem seat canard world has been an issue for a long time. The Speed Canard solves this problem for us in so many ways. Many thanks to Leif Johnson for helping get it to Covington, TN. Once there the Speed Canard has been steadily making new canard Pilots and I expect it will become one of the busiest programs we have.
New Canard Base!
It’s been an absolute joy for me to watch the growth of RAFE. The establishment of the Houston Canard Base at Ellington Field in Houston Texas makes our third location, joining the Covington, TN and Lubbock, TX Canard Bases. The David Brown LongEZ will be based at Ellington and with a Canard base in a metropolitan area like Houston we will no doubt attract more Sponsor Pilots and activity.
Two milestone programs launched in 2018
We launched two milestone programs we’d been working towards since our inception, the Canard Flight Academy and the Formation Flight Inc, EZ Supplement.
Last March we held our first formation clinic and invited instructors from FFI to fly with us. Over the course of the next five months a small cadre of RAFE Formation Pilots worked with FFI to develop what is now The Standard for flying formation in EZ’s. This opens the door for any EZ Pilot to earn an FFI formation card by training to those standards and then getting qualified by FFI. This is important because ultimately we strive to fly many formation events at OSH and other venues leading up to a 50 airplane formation on the 50the anniversary of the EZ!
Look for our upcoming RAFE formation clinic schedules to be released soon and let’s get busy working towards the 50 plane fly-by!
The Canard Flight Academy is the product of the gathering of the minds of RAFE CFI’s with thousands of hours EZ flight time and dual instruction.. Providing a resource for professional flight training in a tandem seat canard will become probably one to the greatest contribution RAFE can make to the canard community.
Our Ranks continue to grow: Aircraft Owner Sponsors and Jet A Club
2018 doubled our ranks of RAFE Aircraft Owner Sponsors. The AOS Program is way to allow pilots that already have their own EZ to participate in RAFE using their own aircraft. The program authorizes owners to display the RAFE Logo on the winglets of their aircraft and help promote RAFE everywhere they fly. More info on the RAFE-AOS program is also on our website.
Jet A Club is an elite group that directly support the restoration of Kerosene Dreams, the CozyJet.
We had an unfortunate setback with the CozyJet program when a paint shop that volunteered to repaint the aircraft after its repairs couldn’t deliver. Worse was the discovery that they used a chemical stripper on the wings and canard destroying the internal foam. New wings and canard were not in the budget but that negative got turned into something really positive.. read on...
RAFE’s first Major Sponsor
When the damage to the CozyJet was discovered we put out blast email asking for help and it was well received. In that process I reached out to someone that I knew had a longstanding relationship with Burt Rutan and his aircraft.
Over 40 years ago, when someone bought a set of plans from Burt Rutan, they needed a place to buy materials. Burt approached Aircraft Spruce owner Jim Irwin with his materials list. That created the ability for someone to call up Aircraft Spruce and have delivered to their doorstep nearly everything needed to construct an EZ from Burt’s plans. It’s been a very long time since someone called up Aircraft Spruce and said “ I need everything to build a set of wings and a canard”! When I called and said that it started a conversation and I’m proud to say Jim Irwin recognized our plight and the long standing relationship his company has with Rutan aircraft and now Aircraft Spruce is an official Sponsor of the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience. Thank you!
2019 is shaping up to be a very busy year. In January we are cutting foam to build the wings and canard for Kerosene Dreams. In March we’ll be hosting our first of hopefully three formation clinics this year. Throughout the year the Canard Flight Academy will be making new canard pilots and we’ll be working on pairing Sponsor Pilots with airplanes such as the Franseen Varieze and others. Even though the hangars in Covington are full, we are still on the lookout for airplanes and projects in need of a good home. We’re also on the lookout for people that want to learn more about these great airplanes by volunteering to help work on them, fly them and support the RAFE. In the next few days look for a section on our website that will have descriptions for leadership volunteer positions within RAFE. There are very talented people out there and we need you to become an RAFE leader and put those talents to use promoting and preserving the HOMEBUILTS THAT LED TO SPACE!
Founder and President.
Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience
Waller County Aviation Museum