Nonstop 1400 Miles

September 2000
Fort Worth to Reno.
Eight hour engine run.
Fourteen hundred statute miles.
3.9 gallons per hour using 31 of 35 gallons.
175 mph average from taxi to shutdown, against the wind.

With the full seat support under my knees, two-levels of armrests, and a shim to put the seat back angle at 37 degrees, it is a beautiful and comfortable long-anticipated day of VariEze flying.

I’m a little stiff climbing out of the plane at Truckee, Ca. but quickly back to normal after stretching out a little. No sore spots.

Quite a haul. But well back in the pack relative to other EZ feats. If I remember right, one of Gary Hertzler’s international records in his VariEze was 2500 miles on 42 gallons. Klaus Savier reported flying 1600 miles with his standard VariEze fuel load.

45 miles per gallon doesn’t seem all that spectacular until I compare it to the drudgery of driving a car 1400 miles going the speed limit.

The comparison has to include eight smiling hours holding that prancing steed back racing halfway across this greatest country on God’s green earth (quote)—
versus the longer and more arduous and more expensive trek from my front door through traffic to DFW to Reno to a rent car to get to that cot in the corner of buddy Tim LoDolce’s Truckee kitchen. Thank ya Tim.

2000 will be a good year. Gary Hunter’s Galveston Fly-in, Jackpot, Oshkosh, Reno, Rough River, Copperstate Dash… all places I’m glad I don’t have to drive to, doing the speed limit.

Unfair Comparisons
A couple of friends always push me to talk numbers. The following will probably be painful enough that they won’t ask again.

The Cessna 152 that this 0-235 engine came from “normally” does about 100 mph for about three hours and three hundred miles.

At Oshkosh a Cessna 152 friend and I once departed on a Sunday morning, both at 7 am. 920 non-stop against-the-wind statute miles later I overflew my home church buddies at 12:10 as they were walking out to the parking lot heading for lunch. My exhausted Cessna friends later told me that they landed three times for fuel and got here well after dark. We Lucky To Fly Eze.

The VariEze can climb faster, almost twice as fast, as some planes with similar hp normally cruise. Years ago Gary Hertzler encouraged me to try climbing at 80, 100, 120 and 140 and see what the difference was. Less than 100 fpm. So the cross country flights usually include a 130 to 150 mph cruise climb taking about twenty minutes to get to 11.5 K.

The Fuel System
Several VariEze drivers have mentioned to me that they have never tried to fly their plane more than three hours. I understand and respect that.

Without going into detail here, the five gallon rear seat tank allows using almost all of the plane’s range. Both strakes drain freely into the rear seat sump. The only fuel discipline is to “have some”, and from there to have the self discipline to be on approach for landing once down to that last five gallons.

A guy has to be careful messing with fuel system designs. There is no fool proof fuel system. The only criticism on this system that holds water is that if JetA is put in one side, I can’t isolate that side.


I’ll take it. I am happy to manage against that one potentiality compared to the number of significant benefits over the years and miles.

WAGs Concerning Speeds and Range
For worst case speed I guess 160 mph. Basic 5 gallons and 160 miles an hour with the 35 gallons equals seven hours and 1120 miles. A little short.

On the optimistic side, a recent Oklahoma trip at 4 gph means I can go almost 9 hours. Times 160 mph, that’s about 1400 miles. So at least I know it’s in the realm of possibility.

The 2200 rpm Oklahoma trip averaged 155 mph. This Reno trip at 2400 rpm uses about the same 4 gph but averages 20 mph faster. Lean of Peak leaning was not used on either trip. Next time.

Knots or MPH?
This is a crucial decision for any august aviator and I have finally arrived at the determination that my instrument panel universe and GPS setting will revolve around… miles per hour.

Over the years it has been comfortable to figure trips at 3 miles a minute. One of my maps has 180 mile increment circles drawn on it. Like, locations under the third ring are three hours away. That’s ez for dreaming. And fun.

The clincher is that trips often work out to be around 190 mph, so 180 is reasonable, and why I choose to use MPH. That may seem like a weak reason.

OK, MPH sounds faster. For free.

Right now it’s knot as easy to use Knots, because it’s knot a reasonable expectation to cruise my plane at 3 Knots a minute. Someday. Why knot?

Will my VariEze fly that far nonstop…today?
When setting the goal to fly non-stop to the Reno Air Races, I didn’t know if it could be done on the particular day I would choose to go. So, past the 1100 miles that I expect to make with no problem, the remaining airports are considered potential fuel stops. Both of them. Just jokin. There are lots of options. The descent will be at the point the sight gauges go clear.

As it works out, there is still fuel in the Atkinson gauges when my GPS says “approaching VNav profile” and the power is pulled back and the nose pushed over a tad and Truckee is that airport!

A triple kitchen clock helps track the fuel time. On engine start I pop the battery in for total time elapsed. A second window is available for leg timing. The third is set to count down backward from the max running time I calculate -- 8.5 hours for this trip.

Best L/D AOA
There is a note coming together about Best Lift-over-Drag angle of attack, touching on the two around-the-world non-stop un-refueled flights that both adjusted their power and speed to fly at a constant best (lowest drag) angle of attack all the way.

My shade tree testing consisted of setting the RPM at 2600 and reducing 20 rpm at a time and recording how much speed was lost. Going below about 2400 rpm resulted in the first relatively large speed drop. This was consistent several times.

Big Friday Night At Truckee
Hot dogs are on the grill. Tim helps me see how much fuel it will take on. Topped off with nose level, the fuel receipt shows thirty-one gallons.

Tim asks me to do a hatch/cowl demo for the group. I ask if anyone has a stop watch to time the cowl removal. There are always plenty of impressive aviation time pieces around. Again, I get the cowls off before anyone figures out how to start their stopwatch.

I look forward to moving through the development period with the 0-290, including another trip to Reno (Truckee) and the plush accommodations in Tim LoDolce’s kitchen. I would normally expect the range to be reduced with the larger engine. But, Hertzler flew one record flight with his 80 hp C-65 using about 2.9 gph and another record flight with the 0-235 using about 2.4 gph. Something to look forward to.

Bill James, Fort Worth to Reno VariEze

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