Thursday, October 1, 2020

The New Wright Aircraft Company – Jeffrey (Not Orville or Wilbur)

Jeff Wright showing Long EZ plans.

Jeff Wright showing Long EZ plans.

Some people collect coins or stamps, others race swamp buggies, or build model airplanes. Jeff Wright is building a real aircraft which he fully intends to fly!

A member of the Marco Island Civil Air Patrol Squadron, Jeff recently entertained CAP senior and cadet members and their families with an explanation of his project and a tour of his “factory” located in a Naples warehouse. Here he is constructing a full-sized two-place powered aircraft, a Long-EZ designed in the mid 1980’s by aircraft design legend Burt Rutan.

Jeff comes about this motivation as he is both a pilot and an industrial engineer. When he is not an aircraft builder, he commutes to Michigan where he is a General Manager with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Previous to that, Jeff spent 21 years with General Motors serving in many capacities and locations, with his last responsibility being in charge of GM’s Aerodynamics Laboratory and Climatic Wind Tunnels. This is where he got the aircraft building bug.

Jeff demonstrated the unusual method of fabrication used to construct this unique aircraft.

 

 

First he builds templates and “jigs” needed to fabricate the shapes and hold them while the fiberglass cures. Using foam as a core, he cuts the needed airfoil shapes with a “hot” wire. He then lays up fiberglass and epoxy over the foam cores, making the assembly practically unbreakable.

The ideal temperature for working with the epoxy so that it penetrates the fiberglass with the least amount of effort, is 77 deg F, which can pose problems working in the Naples summers.

Designed in the mid 1980’s by aircraft design legend Burt Rutan, the Long-EZ has become the most popular “Plans Built” aircraft in existence. The LongEZ is a refinement of Burt’s two earlier designs. These refinements make the Long EZ a comfortable long distance, high altitude, cross country flying machine.

The term “Plans Built” means exactly that. The builder purchases a set of plans and builds the aircraft from scratch.  Although builders can no longer purchase Long-EZ plans from the Rutan Aircraft factory (RAF), there are a couple options. If you keep your eyes open, original plans can occasionally be found in such places as

Cadet Drew Fordon in cockpit.

Cadet Drew Fordon in cockpit.

E-Bay, Barnstormers, or several of the EZ forum organizations.

PREFABRICATED PARTS

In fabricating the Long-EZ, Jeff obviously could not make the engine and all the parts needed.

The original specs include the installation of a Lycoming 108 hp, model O-235 engine.  Since the original plans were released, many builders/owners have modified their airplanes and installed both higher-powered model O-320 and O-360 engines. Some even have used V8 car engines!  Jeff will install a modified Lycoming O-320, which is targeted to deliver a cruise speed of 200 mph.

Many of the component parts that are called out in the Long-EZ plans, such as the landing gear bows, canopy, and most of the small metal assemblies, were purchased from manufacturers that specialize in parts for experimental aircraft.

THE QUESTIONS

As every EZ owner will testify, there seems to be a certain set of questions that are most popular whenever someone unfamiliar with the design first sees a Long-EZ parked on the ramp.

Which way does it fly?

This question is usually prompted because the propeller seems like it is in the wrong place, plus the unusual way the plane is normally parked….nose down!

Long EZ in flight.

Long EZ in flight.

 Well, the first rule in aerodynamics prevails, “the pointy end is forward.” Most people are accustomed to seeing the propeller in the front, this is known as a “tractor.” The Long-EZ has the propeller in the rear; this is known as a “pusher.” The “pusher” configuration offers a couple advantages over a tractor, mainly better streamlining of the nose. Plus, because all the engine noise is behind you, the pilot and passenger compartments are much quieter.

Why is it sitting on its nose?

The first impression is that there was an accident, and something happened to the nose. Well, this just isn’t so. Because of the position of the main landing gear wheels, when the pilot is no longer sitting in the plane, the Center of Gravity shifts toward the rear of the plane. ..similar to a friend getting off their end of the teeter-totter. To keep the plane from falling over backwards, the nose gear is retracted, and the plane is then set down on a little rubber bumper. The nose gear is always

 

 

extended for takeoff, landing, and taxiing.

Why doesn’t this plane have a tail?

This question usually refers to the absence of a horizontal stabilizer, or “Elevator” in the back of the plane. Well, this is partially correct! The Long-EZ does have a “tail,” it is in the front, and in this case is called a “canard.” The pilot-controlled elevators are mounted on the canard. On a conventional plane, the elevator is mounted on the tail. One of the design features of the canard aircraft is the ability to resist an inadvertent main wing “stall” where the wing ceases to provide the needed lift. This is a tremendous safety feature as “stall” accidents are a major factor in general aviation accidents.

The rear pusher-propeller, a forward-facing wing, and an innovative canard (a horizontal stabilizer placed in front of the wings, named after the French word for duck) changed the configuration and compensated for the aerodynamic changes during flight to make the Long-EZ a highly efficient aircraft.

THE LONG-EZ IN THE BEGINNING

Designed in the mid 1980’s by aircraft

 

 

design legend Burt Rutan, the Long-EZ has become the most popular “Plans Built” aircraft in existence. The Long-EZ is a refinement of Burt’s two earlier designs that make the Long-EZ a comfortable long distance, high altitude, cross country flying machine.

The numbers of aviation records held by Long-EZs are a tribute to its design. One of the most impressive records held by a Long-EZ is the altitude record for its weight class (C-1b = approx 1,100 lbs). In 1996, Jim Price was able to climb to, and maintain, an altitude of 35,027 feet. This feat was performed in Jim’s normally aspirated, plans built Long-EZ. This record still stands today

Long-EZs are also noted for their long distance and endurance capabilities. At a recent fly-in, one pilot was heard saying; “It seems like everywhere you go, you always see a Long-EZ, and they’re always a 1,000 miles away from home. While living in California, I routinely flew my Long-EZ non-stop from San Jose, California to Toledo, Ohio in less than 10 hours.”

Auxiliary of the United States Air Force

Marco Island Composite Squadron
Florida Wing – Unit #SER-FL-376
P. O. Box 225, Marco Island, FL 34146-0225

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