Check out experience in the long-EZ

July 1980

To date 30 pilots have been checked out in the Long-EZ. Pilot experience ranges from student, private, military, aviation writers, VariEze and even the odd airline captain. No problems were encounted by anyone and all made the transition easily. Pilots current in a VariEze were given a ground systems briefing and turned lose. The more experienced pilots without VariEze time were given one turn around the pattern (instructor in the back) then turned lose.

Since the Long-EZ has a more solid pitch response and a lower deck angle on landing than the VariEze there was much less pitch bobble and no high round out landings as in some VariEze check outs. There was still some tendency to push both rudders out, especially on the first take off, but since you don’t couple to roll as much as the VariEze this never created a problem. The most common comment was how long it took to slow down to pattern airspeed and how much it would float on landing especially if you were fast.

We checked out and soloed two of our RAF low time pilots, Sally Melvill (Mike’s wife) 150 hr private pilot and Pat Storch (Burt’s girlfriend))a 24 hour student pilot. At no time did the instructor need to take control to save/recover the aircraft. Both were soloed after 1.5 hours dual in the front seat (6 to 8 landings). Neither had any formal backseat dual. Since the instructor had no throttle or brakes in the back, enough time was spent on the ground making low/high speed taxi runs be be sure this area was mastered. Neither required more than 10 minutes in this area.

Sally is current in a Champ, Grumman Tiger and VariViggen. Pat had only flown the Tiger. Both girls are exceptional pilots, better capable than average for their flight time. The following is Pat’s personal perception of her flight: "Incredulous - that was my first feeling when they told me they wanted me to solo the Long-EZ. Tiny insecurities worked their way out in the form of protests.

"But I’m only a student! I’ve only soloed one other airplane! I have less than 25 hours!" It seemed that I was the only one lacking in confidence, because they would not be dissuaded. The day came when it was time to give it a try from the front seat. The cockpit looked foreign, almost hostile. Instruments were not where my eyes wanted them to be. Throttle and stick were in the wrong hands. With my heart in my mouth, we started the pattern work.

Soon I was thankfully too busy to be nervous, but I still felt I was reaching for an unattainable goal. Control of the Long felt so different, and the full-stall landings I had practiced so diligently in the in the Tiger were to be forgotten. Then, amazingly, little pieces started falling together. Each landing felt better, the cockpit looked more familiar and a tiny seed of confidence started to bloom. Could it be? Would it really happen? Down to refuel and then came the words I wanted to hear - "you’re ready to go!".

My heart was racing once again but this time it was from anticipation and excitement. Lined up on the runway, I took a deep breath and was rolling. The take-off was smooth and felt good. The plane felt fantastic. I played in the sky. Up, down, around, turns and steep turns to 2 gs. I never expected any experience to equal my first solo, but this surely surpassed it. Flying never felt so good! Then came the final test, the landing. A little long, but a good one. A Long-EZ pilot! I flew the Long! I wanted the world to celebrate with me. Flying had taken on a new dimension. I may have landed but I was still in the air, and haven’t come down yet. What a satisfying, exhilarating experience".

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