Flying has always been in the Dixon family genes. My father was a pilot at one time, and he and my Uncle Bill started building a Ford-powered Corben Super Ace back in the 1930s. It was never finished, but their other brother, my Uncle Jack (shown here), did become a pilot in the Marine Corps, flying Corsairs in the pacific during WWII.
That's Dad in the pilot seat of this Waco. Uncle Bill took the picture because he probably thought he'd never see him again. This was Dad's first solo flight in 1936!
Here are Dad (in the knit cap) and Uncle Bill in a pose familiar to any of us who have built their own experimental aircraft (Called a SPORT aircraft in 1935). Can't wait to get in and imagine it is finished and flying through the clouds! Much easier to imagine clouds with all that snow around!
The plane was the Corben Superace...the plans for the real, full sized one were serialized in Popular Aviation in the early 1930s. It was powered by a Ford Model A motor. Click here for my plans of a model of this aircraft.
People may think that Burt Rutan was first with that strange canard design of the Long Ez and the other planes he designed, but even he admits he was just updating the Wilbur and Orville Wright designs. I recently found that the Japanese were also experimenting with that same idea at the end of WWII with the Kyushi J7W1 Shinden, shown here in profile.
On a trip to the left coast in 1982, my son, Darren, and I stopped by to visit with the Rutans at their home base in Mojave California to see what the story was about these "canard-pusher" type aircraft... That's Darren standing by the left winglet of N79RA.
Dick Rutan let me sit in N79RA's cockpit and took this picture of me...that experience, and Dick's later demonstration flight was all it took, I was hooked.
Darren and I had driven out to California from our home here near Rochester, New York. On the return trip, the car was filled with souvenirs of our visit to RAF. Landing gear was in the trunk, a full set of Long Ez plans were in the back seat (to accompany the cooler filled with cold soda pop and sandwiches), and a canopy that Dick sold us at a discount, when he decided he wasn't going to use it, was duct taped to the roof!
I ordered everything else I needed from Wick's Aircraft Supply, and for convenience, had it delivered to the company I worked for at the time. This trip, with a borrowed trailer full of Long Ez materials and parts, was one of the last jobs that the Buick did before I replaced it with a new Mazda RX7.
Soon after we got started (I had two partners, Bob was a fellow employee at Pennwalt, and Mike was a friend and neighbor who also happened to be a scout leader at the time) Mike brought his cub scouts around for a look at what we were doing. That's me, many years younger, lecturing to a bunch of very interested scouts in the basement shop where we started the project.
Although it isn't mine, this is the way a Long Ez should look when finished. This was taken at a CSA fly-in of canard aircraft at the Niagara Falls airport (notice the others in the flight line in the background). This parked position with the nose wheel retracted is affectionately known in canard circles as the "grazing" position.
The ultimate Long Ez...the multi-million dollar Beechcraft Starship. A twin turboprop business craft, also designed by Burt Rutan.
© Copyright Harley M. Dixon 1981-2015.
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