Sally and I had planned this vacation for months. We were ready and so was our Long-EZ. We lifted off runway 7 at Mojave at 5:55AM and headed East. I climbed at 140 kts. Indicated which, at our weight, yielded a 600 FPM climb. The Northstar showed a ground speed of 185 kts! Great tailwind even during the climb. We donned our oxygen cannulas (AEROX - simply the best 11-1/2 hours duration with two people at 18000') and climbed to 17500 feet. Once we were level and trimmed out, we were looking at a true speed of 173 knots. while burning 6.4 GPH. The winds were pretty much on the tail giving us a ground speed that never fell below 200 knots for the first 1000 NM. At times, we saw 220 knot ground speeds on the loran. Unlike the terrible weather I had experienced flying the 0-235 powered Long-EZ over approximately the same route (See CP63), we had glorious blue skies essentially all the way from Mojave to New York. We stopped for gas in Rogers, Ark. then pressed on to Wilksboro, NC. Flying time was 9-1/2 hours.
We used 63 gallons for an average fuel burn of 6.7 GPH. Not bad when you consider two climbs to 17500'! We averaged right at 30 NMPC3 (34 MPG) on the trip from Mojave to Wilksboro mostly due to strong tailwinds. We had a marvelous 3-day weekend at a hot air balloon festival run by our old friend and VariEze builder/flyer, "Mule" Ferguson. We flew in hot air balloons, we chased hot air balloons all over the countryside and we had a ball. Thanks a million, Mule and beautiful wife, Debbie. The trip from Wilksboro to East Hampton, Long Island, NY at 11500' took only 2.7 hours. Again, we got lucky and had a huge tailwind.
We flew under the NY TCA at 500 feet, just off the beach. Quite an experience. You fly so close to Kennedy you can almost look into the windows of the airliners waiting to take off! Although the route flown was not exactly the same, it was close. The 0-235 powered Long-EZ used 99 gallons and the trip took 18-1/2 hours. This time, our 0-360 powered Long-EZ used 83 gallons and the trip took 12.2 hours. The tailwinds had a lot to do with it, though - it took 16:10 to fly back to Mojave, bucking strong head winds and awful weather, at least to Ohio. Average fuel bum on the trip home was 8.8 GPH the price you pay for the big engine if you can't go up high enough.
We stayed with a friend on Long Island and he and his wife saw to it that we had a splendoriforous time. We flew to Boston, then to Newport, RI. (Saw a completed Rutan Solitaire on the Newport airport.) We flew into New York City, flying down the Hudson river at, or below, 600 feet to stay below the TCA. We flew by the Statue of Liberty and landed at Linden, NJ. We spent 3 days in New York City and loved every minute of it. We departed from Linden on a cloudy, low ceiling day and "scud ran" in driving rain for almost 4 hours! We landed for fuel in Burlington, IA and discovered that our voltage regulator had died.
Sally called Bill Bainbridge of B&C Specialty in Newton, KS and he invited us to drop in. He also offered to trouble-shoot the problem, fix it or replace the B&C linear voltage regulator. He was as good as his word and, when he could not find the problem, he replaced the regulator. As we lifted the broken one out of the nose, it was dripping water! Bill took the lid off and, low and behold, it was full of water! Stupidly, I had installed it directly under the access door in the nose and my door does not have a good seal. Flying for hours in pouring rain had somehow caused water to get into the regulator and shorted it out!
A valuable lesson - do not mount your voltage regulator where rain can get to it! While I am on the subject of Bill Bainbridge and his B&C Specialty Company, I would like to thank Bill and his delightful wife, Celeste, for their hospitality and kindness. Bill really does have a neat little company in Newton. I got a tour of the facility and was tremendously impressed. The lightweight starters, the linear voltage regulators, the various alternators, etc., all are built with incredible attention to detail. You have to see these accessories going together to appreciate just how much superior they are to anything else out there.
By the way, you can order a brand new Lycoming 0-235, 0-320, or 0360 from the factory equipped with one of Bill's beautiful starters! Bill really cares about us homebuilders and he strives to provide us with excellent parts designed to not only provide excellent service but also to give us the best possible performance and long life. The linear voltage regulator also provides absolute protection from an over-voltage spike thus keeping your expensive avionics safe. Before buying less expensive starters, alternators and voltage regulators, take a hard, critical look at what you get - believe me, I speak from experience!
We flew out of Newton during a summer thundershower and ended up fighting thunderstorms and rain all the way to Gallup, NM. From Gallup to Mojave the weather was perfect except for a 30 knot headwind. N26MS now has 1630 hours on her. She first flew in 1980 which makes her almost 10 years old. We have been all over the lower 48 states as well as Alaska and our Long-EZ has served us well. No question, our lives would not be the same without her.
She has been ready to fly us anywhere, virtually anytime we wanted to go. Airframe maintenance has been essentially zero. Engine maintenance with the 0-235 was more than it should have been. We topped it twice in 907 hours. This was probably due to my running it too hard! The 0-360 has required no maintenance during the last 720 or so hours. We have had to have both magnetos worked on and we had an alternator failure once. We are extremely satisfied with our Long-EZ and would not trade it for anything.
Mike and Sally Melvill