Kanab racing, Long-EZ, Varieze and other Burt Rutan Aircraft

Kanab 2000, Long-ez racing in the desert

By David Orr

We had a very nice time at Kanab this year. It was safe, even with 3 new guys to indoctrinate in the safety rules. Had one guy who came back to town instead of the airport and then flew down the runway toward the landing planes - just takes one non-thinker to get us all in trouble. The experienced ones are really looking out - but there are blind spots in a race. Others reported the scores - I sent them on before. Shirl and Char did a great job, as usual! Without a professional starter I figured my Paint Job could stand in for Rudolph - out front and unfazed.

Two EZ owners from Texas came in one plane - new guy Phil Salter and his British Side Kick Graham Shevlin - who proudly displayed his very artistic push rod that grounded his own Long EZ. That's the attitude - if your plane breaks, take a ride with someone else. We had lots of Colorado folks: Bob Wilson and wife - Don Douglas in his immaculate Long EZ, Rob Martinson and Dave Devere, Arizona with 5 planes and of course California people - Las Vegas, so close, was sadly unrepresented again. Don't know what to do with those goose eggs! San Diego was underrepresented, Dave Kilbourne came alone - we had two from Oregon - John Hsu and Bob Hutchinson. I heard them planning for one to fly low and one to fly high on the way back - to maintain radio contact? Bob Holliston likely shot out ahead as silent point man on his way to the Washington side of the Columbia. That plane really screams for an O-290. The time by the pool was very good too. Had lots of bull sessions, minor stretching of the flying stories. Bill Oertel's wife is recovering from a broken leg so he brought her in a huge wheel chair - about 40 feet long with retractable step. Cheered us up to see Donna doing better. The three senior Arizona guys are so used to stepping out that they took a hike up the mesa without Shirl. Eckes, Hurtzler and Reuland look great in their safari shorts! It was a no moon night, ideal for star gazing, but the high overcast kept free of all stars. Brian Scott came up too - I have to get to know him - do you guys take him to lunch out there?

There is a new Yuppy type restaurant in town next to the hotel - had a wonderful EZ dinner there - seemed like there was a table for each state - like to see some more mixing it up. But who can blame old friends like the Chino guys - a Navion Twin driver has somehow gotten mixed up with the Canard guys - Guy Hamilton. He brought Gai Cadwell ('83) with him and a new Long EZ flyer, Harry Thomas - it was a kick to hear him working out formation with a Navion Twin on the way home. What do you call that - "double backwards" - We were calling him "Great White". Eric Cobb left early - he has a new girlfriend - who can blame him - but shot us some great photos. And Stan Magill made his second trip out of SoCal in his very large Cozy IV. The Tackabury's took off with us, but as in the race - they steamed over the horizon as we mumbled our flock stuff far behind. Of course if they steam over the horizon - how do you describe a Glasair III with Mike Jones describing his 1.3 hour leg at 18,500 from Kanab, UT to Fullerton, CA? Orbital ride, I guess.

I took my mother, which was a nice change. She didn't seem too surprised by the beer and stories, but did spend more time in the room doing Norwegian cross-stitch in preparation for a tour to South Africa. She tolerated the flight very well. She's finally given up mounting up with the nose in the air - guess that went out at about 80 years of age. She is pure Norwegian - but didn't speak it - but she sure did bond with Cookie Skjovberg and his wife - the Danes. They also kindly took up a pilot who was fascinated with EZs. The more amazing story was the husband and wife on a trip from Tennessee who had never seen canards before and "just stopped by" the Kanab airport because of the posters all over town. Our Utah commuter, Dean Lynn Crawford or Lazer got them both up. The city bus driver was too shy to ask, so one of the breakfast ladies asked me to give him a ride - he just had a ball - despite moderate turb all afternoon. There was one genuine Eagle. He brought his 16 year old girlfriend who went with me and he got a short ride with the Texicans.

As usual, minor engine or other problems were handled by the group until resolved. Two planes with missing and slight stutter - it is always a good excuse for not making it to the finish line as fast as you predicted. But Maddog Devere also figured out if you are neck and neck with some fast guys you can always pretend they can turn without you noticing and you fly on by the turn point. Actually, he had the third fastest sounding plane there with that big O-360 after the V8 and IO-540.

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