Bellying in a rare, classic airplane on a remote strip in Dewitt, Arkansas, wasn’t enough to keep Ryszard Zadow from AirVenture this week. While the loss of the world’s only VariViggen’s engine last weekend was unfortunate, Zadow felt fortunate to nurse the plane into an airport with great people. Almost immediately after coming to a stop on the 5M1 runway, Aufderheide Flying Service was there with a forklift and truck, helping to haul the plane to a hangar for the night. The next morning, the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience (RAFE) crew was there, ready to trailer the damaged Lady Vi back home to the Covington, Tennessee. Its minor repair will have to wait until after the Big Show. But, no need for Zadow to miss the show, he jumped into their recently repaired Speed Canard and brought it to share with us.
The Germany-built Speed Canard is a special “pusher” aircraft as it is registered in the “Standard” category, making it the only canard-style, small airplane that can be legally rented in the United States, and there is no LODA required to use it for instruction. Thus, the RAFE uses it as their transition trainer for pilots needing and wanting training in a pusher plane. (Most of their clients are planning to fly Long-Ezes in the near future.)
Its original, “German” configuration was unnecessarily heavy and greatly limited the fuel that could be carried by two full-size adults. So, after obtaining the Speed Canard from a generous donor, the RAFE team (of mostly volunteers) removed much of the “low-hanging fruit” weight from the plane. However, there was much more potential for removing weight. Perhaps the result of hard landings by their many transition pilots, the plane suffered a gear failure earlier this year. Repairing the plane provided RAFE with an opportunity to do major weight reduction. Ultimately, they lightened the plane 44 pounds… and they plan more.
Zadow and the Speed Canard are parked at the furthest south slot of Row 355. Stop by and check out this special plane!