My Buddies Are Still Building…

A lasting encounter took place in the mid-90s at one of Terry Yake’s fantastic Olatha KC GIGs. Among the festivities on Saturday night there were several folks that got 1000 or 2000 hour awards. Sunday morning I saw one of the 2000 hour couples untying and getting ready to leave. They smiled unhurriedly and I said hello and congratulated them on the 2000 hours.

I glanced at their plane and recognized it from the day before. It was fairly crude. As folks walked the line looking at the 80-plus ezes, this was one point where everyone would kinda take a detour. They would politely look at the plane and then quickly walk on. I had been intrigued enough to circle it once and then glance back from the next plane.

Now I could see it looked to still be in primer, mostly. The tip of the nose was covered with a hurried raw glass spray-painted patch. Under the winglets, rectangular raw foam blocks were micro-ed on. The interior was “basic and well-worn”.

The man looked at me and smiled. Those Eze people kinda have a way of knowing what you’re thinking. He looked at the nose and said that a brake had faded “recently” and he taxied into the door of his hangar and he had repaired it overnight because there was somewhere he wanted to go the next day…

He said “Me and two of my buddies all started building at the same time. While they tweaked and added a few spiffy fads, I built and got my plane flying pretty quickly. Once off the ground it just flew and flew and I always ended up heading out somewhere and never did get around to finishing up all the little details, for the last twenty years.”

He said they had heard something about the benefit of having “lower winglets” under the wing tip so he stuck the rectangular foam blocks under there and they seemed to be good and he never got around to painting them. He mentioned a few more details, like making landings in 48 states. He leaned into his cockpit and adjusted the lap belts and looked back and said,

“My buddies are still building…”

I really look forward to catching up with them again.

What’s the real measure?
No matter how spiffy and fast my plane is, my epoxy-fumed mind is starting to wonder if what might really matter here could maybe end up having more to do with total fuel burned out through the exhausts, augmented or not, in sunrises and sunsets and mornings and noons and evenings and I still love flying at night- yikes!! and thus I can’t help but notice that lotsa ez folks have been out there steadily torching through the gallons and years and I got some catchin’ up to do-

I will admit, with the prices now this helps me to slyly rationalize that I am way behind in burning up my quota of that “liquid gold”. Works for me.

Of course fuel burned in our arena is different, vastly expanding the area plotted out on a map. This thought may lead to a note about folks that I wish I hadn’t given a ride… it ruined them good.

The 2000 hour award speaks for itself. And is its own reward. Looking past surface appearances, I don’t know the inside story of the care and quality that was built in to that airframe and devoted to the engine.
But 2000 hours says it’s there.

Bill James, Fort Worth VariEze


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