A Long What?
The Long Ez is a home-built airplane made from raw materials and plans. It was designed by Burt Rutan of Rutan Aircraft Factory, Scaled Composites, and The Spaceship Company fame. Also know as Rutan Model 61, the Long Ez was derived from Rutan’s Vari Ez. The Long Ez was to be the next generation; larger, more comfortable, easier to build, stronger, better flying qualities, and safer ‘Vari Ez.’ The Long Ez was designed as an efficient, long range (2,000 NM Range) aircraft.
The Long Ez and Vari Ez are recognizable by its unique design. It has a forward wing, called a canard, instead of the traditional horizontal tail, and a pair of ‘winglets’ instead of a vertical tail. The avid enthusiast will be able to tell the difference between the two, noticing the anhedral of the Vari Ez, and the flat wings of the ‘Long.’
The question comes up quite often why ‘Ez?’ Ez refers to the ease of construction. At the time the Vari Ez was introduced, most home-built airplanes were made using either welded steel tube structures covered in fabric or formed aluminum structures covered with an aluminum skin. Both of these methods required that the builder had specific knowledge and costly tools. Additionally, the builder would have to hand make hundreds or even thousands of parts individually, then eventually assemble.
Both the Vari and Long Ez are built of foam core composite construction. The builder shapes foam to the required shape and does a wet layup of fiberglass over the core. Rutan believed that this construction method was much easier than traditional construction, and he must have been on to something because business was booming after the Vari Ez was introduced.
The prototype Long Ez, N79RA, first flew on June 12, 1979. Long Ez plans were sold between 1980 and 1985 by Rutan Aircraft Factory (RAF), and since then thousands have been built and flown. Even though it is a 33 year old design, people are still actively (and not so actively) building and flying these machines.
Notable Accolades of the Long Ez
- World Distance Record – Dick Rutan flew the Long EZ 4900 miles on a closed course. The flight that lasted 33 hours and 34 minutes. A short description was posted in the RAF Canard Pusher newsletter. (Read about it here)
- World Distance Record – In July 1981, Dick Rutan again set a record, flying 4563.35 miles straight line distance. The course was between Anchorage, Alaska and Grand Turk Island in the British West Indies.
- Fastest Electric Powered Aircraft – Chip Yates converted a Long EZ to an electric powered aircraft. The 258 horsepower electric engine conversion reached a speed of 202.6 MPH on July 19, 2012. Pilot Chip Yates was not a pilot when he conceived of this idea, and had to obtain a pilot certificate before he could attempt the record. (Read about it here)
- World Altitude Record – Jim Price took his Long Ez to 35,027 feet in 1996 powered by a Lycoming O-360. (Watch Jim’s presentation, broken into four video segments, to an EAA chapter about his planning and the flight here)
- Spirit of EAA World Friendship Tour – In 1997, Dick Rutan and Mike Melville flew their Long Ezs side by side around the world. That’s right, over 30,000 nautical miles heading east the whole way around the world. The tour lasted over 80 days and 240 hours of flight time. (Read more about it here) (and here)
- Multiple Articles