Saturday 18 May 2013

Rutan LongEzes of New Zealand

Following from his hugely successful VariEze, Burt Rutan designed the improved and larger LongEze which first flew on 12/6/79.  It had a larger wing with a new airfoil and featured the same construction as the VariEze with foam cores covered by fibreglass.  Like the VariEze it was also only available as plans up to 1985.  It also had a more powerful O-235 motor of 115 HP.

The LongEze length was 0.8 metres longer than the VariEze, at 5.12 metres (16 feet 10 inches), and the wingspan was increased by 1.2 metres to 7.96 metres (26 feeet 1 inch).  The wing area was considerably increased at 82 square feet over the VariEze's 53.6 square feet.  Empty weight was 322Kg (710 pounds) and MAUW was 601Kg (1,350 pounds).  With an O-235 motor the maximum cruise is 161 mph, and it was capable of very long cruising ranges, approaching 2,000 miles.  In 1997 Dick Rutan and Mike Melville flew a pair of LongEzes around the world.

Our first LongEze was ZL-LEZ (c/n AACA/715) which was built by Chris Hoskins of Tauranga and was first registered on 10/9/86.  The photos of it were taken at the 1987 AACA flyin at Omaka.  This was the first time I had seen a LongEze or VariEze flying, and I remember when it first streaked overhead that it seemed to be something out of Star Wars!

When Chris landed and the front wheel came off!  However it didn't seem to do any damage, and was to be easily fixed.

Here is ZK-LEZ taxying at the 1989 AACA flyin at Tairei.

Chris Hoskins sold ZK-LEZ to Lapo Ancillotti of Wellington on 26/9/06.  It is photo'd above at Ardmore on 27/2/09, for sale by Dennis Thompson International.  It is still current.

And our second LongEze was ZK-LET (LET for Long Eze Turbine) (c/n 306) which was built by Grant Nicholls and Chris Hoskins at Tauranga,  It was first registered to Grant Nicholls on 12/11/01.  In the above photo, taken at Tauranga in 2002, it has the 300 HP ex auxilliary power unit from the USAAF fitted.  I understand that it did fly briefly with this engine but that it suffered from technical difficulties.

So Grant Nicholls re-engined it with a powerful Mazda rotary engine with a 6 bladed prop, as photo'd

above at the 2006 SAANZ flyin at Tauranga.  It was also fitted with a retractable main undercarriage by that time.

But wait!  There is more!  Grant Nicholls then fitted ZK-LET with a jet engine.  The above photo was taken in Grant's hangar at Tauranga on 10/7/11.  I understand that the engine came from a drone.  It flew spectacularly during the 2012 SAANZ flyin/airshow at Tauranga.  However it doesn't have a very long flight endurance.

I think that ZK-LET must be our most modified homebuilt aircraft, and it can also lay claim the being our first turbo-prop homebuilt, and also our first jet homebuilt aircraft.  Thats not bad!

Chris Hoskins who is Mr LongEze in New Zealand is now building a Berkut in his hangar at Tauranga.  This is basically a very racy looking LongEze with 2 fighter style opening canopies and a retractable undercarriage.  I hope we will see this flying soon.


  1. Mr Hoskins is actually building a Long-Ez, but with a modified Berkut type canopy.

    From his massive experience with the type, he has modified a number of things on the machine.

    It will have retractable main gear also.

    And will be Mazda rotary powered!

  2. Here's a shot of the jet Long Eze flying!