Brothers
  March 2005 EZ of the Month
 

by Mark Hanson

Since this is a story about my plane I thought it only right to tell you how I got started. In all fairness to my brother I must include his story as part of the introduction. A number of years back my older brother David Hanson bought a plane. It was a project plane called a Vari Eze. I am from the northwest and the Vari Eze has a pretty large following up this way. I have actually seen a few of them flying.

I was concerned about my brother because the plane has a bit of a reputation as a fast moving, unconventional, high performance plane. That was the extent of my broad based knowledge of the Rutan designs. For the past 35 years I have flown all sorts of production planes but never an experimental. My brother didnít even have a student pilot certificate, hence the reason for my concern.

So, about the same time David received his pilotsí certificate, he also got the airworthiness certificate for his brand new Vari Eze. Not only was he a new pilot he was also a new test pilot. God loves idiots and drunks. Dave is neither of these. However, I do think the Almighty was really amused at my brothers first few flights. Needless to say, he has gotten lots better, and proven himself to be quite the builder. As many of you who have talked with him know, he is not shy about asking advice and seeks knowledge from all corners of the globe.

I did not come willingly into the fold of experimental airplane owners. It took lots of convincing and a ride or two in my brotherís plane. Dave, buddy, I am sorry to say the rides were not the most convincing part of my indoctrination.

I was looking at different designs and kit projects. When Dave put it to me this way, He said, "Mark I already did all the looking and comparing for you. But if you insist on wasting your time, go for it. When it is all said and done, youíre going to buy the same damn thing as I got." "And why am I going to do that," says I?

Because, One; the plane is cheap to buy, lots of them out there in various stages of completion. Two; I can do the building for you (big selling point here. A volunteer). Three; if you start a project it would take you 10 years to maybe finish it. You can be flying with one of these in a year if we get the right project. And four; you wonít end up divorced over it (major plus)." Oh ya! Did I say it is cheap to buy?" OK, all valid arguments, I had to admit.

After careful consideration I had to toss in a few kinks just to slow him down. I told Dave if he found a plane that has flown (proven building methods) i.e. wings are still on it with no damage history. It also had to have everything including motor, instruments, and some cool stuff like radios GPS would be nice. All of this for under ten thousand dollars, I would consider it.

Two days later he sent me a batch of photos and a list of parts. He was very excited because he believed he found a winner.

He was right. I liked what I saw and we made the deal with the previous owner via e-mail.

 

Dave left Connecticut in the dead of winter with his trusty trailer to pick the plane up in Tennesse. When he arrived he was even more enthusiastic about it than he was before. Seems the workman ship on the plane was superb and all the parts were as advertised some parts still in the box. He packaged her up, paid the remainder of the money owed and took it back to Connecticut where it would undergo some serious changes.

Since I am a serious wide body (hate to admit that) I could no way fit into that tiny space between the windscreen and the cockpit. The canopy was different than my brothers so it was the fist to go. Also being a bit claustrophobic, I insisted on a bigger canopy. The first change order was in place. Dave set himself to the task. He picked up a big boy canopy for a Long Eze and modified the canopy to fit in the Vari Eze frame. Not many of those out there like mine I would guess.

I love the new look of the canopy. It seems to hold the line of the rear upper cowling very nicely.

The landing gear was being replaced when I bought it. Along with that project, I replaced the wheels with thicker rotors for the brakes added steel break lines and replaced the tires with slicks. Dave picked up some high speed wheel pants that were going to take hours of work with micro and all that to make them perfect. That was going to be my first exposure to riveting and micro balloons.

My wife graciously allowed me to head back to Connecticut to help my brother work on the plane and learn more about how my plane is built. It was a typical Hanson vacation, go someplace and work yourself sick. I spent 10 days sometimes 16 hours a day working on the plane. I swear, if I know anything from that, I do know how to sand. I sanded every piece of that plane repeatedly. Before I left, we had it in primer. Now I didnít say it was perfect. I said it was in primer. Some times 80% is passing.

 

About the same time we were working on my plane, my brotherís plane was in for a replacement of its landing gear. Daveís shop was full of canard stuff and we were up to our eyeballs in micro and primer. We managed to mess around with some armpit scoop concepts for his plane and mine. We must have changed out my Naca scoop three times before deciding to stay with the original design. We put in new high speed fuel fill caps on all three of my fuel tanks. Those two planes must have been flipped over at least six times in the course of my first visit.

All work was progressing nicely according to my brother. After ten days, I went home beat, full if finely grit sanding residue and a deep appreciation for what my brother was doing for me. I actually got to sit in my plane and make airplane noises. I was thrilled to be an owner.

During the next few months and through the summer Dave was finishing up the work on his plane. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of flight testing that had to take place to insure the armpit cooling was going to work out for him. He finally got it working to his satisfaction. I guess in the winter it is even better.

My plane was not getting much attention due to my brothers work schedule, flight testing and the move that he was making to Pennsylvania. During this lull in the body work, Dave sent my engine off to get some well deserved wrenching done on it. We met a man in Florida who seemed to know what he was doing. He took possession of my Continental 0 200 about June of 2004.

I sent him the paint and a check for the work he was about to do. He was very enthusiastic about getting the engine and the money at the same time. He tore right into it. Within days he had the crank back and new c-85 pistons and a different cam for it. He replaced everything inside the engine and when it came time for exhaust he made some that were not quite what I was going to need. But it was a good effort. He makes airboat engines.

 

To expedite the wiring Dave sent the harness out to have them done professionally. I have a KLX 135-A com/GPS, a transponder and EFIS engine monitoring system along with some other gadgets that needed to be wired correctly. These items went to Florida during the summer of 2004.
Come the fall, I was ready to resume building on the plane and guess what? Florida was hit with four hurricanes all of which went right over the area where all my parts where being worked on. It was a valiant effort on everyoneís part to get me my engine and wiring.

 

I was so pleased to have the engine and plane all in the same building.

Again, my wife cut me loose to go back east to get work done on the plane. On this trip my goals were to have the plane painted inside and out. Lastly, I wanted to have the engine mounted and running.

In my absence Dave had not been idol. My plane had gone through many changes during the time when I left in March. Dave had moved it to Pennsylvania; he had worked and reworked my cowlings. He reduced the size of the Naca scoop and then redid it to the original. He finished the canopy and latch mechanisms. He replaced the rollover head brace. He finished the front wheel shimmy dampener, completed the installation of the new fuel valve, and lastly he replaced the master cylinders and the brake lines and connected them. There are countless other items that he worked on, each one integral to the new plane that I was going to be flying.

With the help of my brother and his new side kick Dick, I was able to accomplish the three tasks that I had set out to do. The plane was painted inside and out and I got to hear my engine running.

ITíS ALIVVVVVVVVVVVVEEE! What a sweet sound. You can see in the photo the exhaust just would not do. So a call was made to Hal Hunt. Hal went to work on the exhaust but so did my brother and Dick. Dave had a design in mind for it. When it was completed it would allow for not only carb-heat to come off the exhaust manifold but also the opposite side would provide cabin heat. The Hal Hunt exhaust eventually arrived and I found a good home for it. I stayed with my brothers exhaust system.

 

 

She looks sexy and sounds mean. Your guess is as good as anyoneís on the horse power increase.

 

The work on N 220 EZ just never seems to end. Dave did the tin work, the wiring, all the instruments and then some. He designed and built the air intake and a carburetor heat mechanism. He installed the vacuum system for instruments. He did a magnificent job of putting her together. The flight deck looks like a real dog fighter.

There have been modifications done in the cockpit. For example, the heater controls have its separate panel and the new Garmin portable 196 GPS is attached just above the control arm on its mounting bracket. I am very impressed with all the work my brother has done. He has put together my dream.

 

This is my Varieze right next to its twin brother.

Eventually, it got to the point where N 220 EZ outgrew Dickís basement. So, on a bright sunny day in February 2005, Dave took it to the airport and set it right were it belongs.

 

One of our dreams is to fly formation across the USA with these two little rascals. Alas, it may not come to pass. I was diagnosed with cancer in early January and am currently undergoing treatment. Dave on the other hand has traded his little rocket for a new project the SQ 2000. The SQ 2000 is a very bold project and I know he will make it fly. I donít blame him for making the swap. I encouraged it.

Over the next few months I will be recovering from my treatments. I will be well by mid summer. My plane will keep my brother company for some flight testing to work out the minor kinks. Dave will take good care of it and make it fly just perfect for me. He is truly one of the most extraordinary individuals I have ever had the pleasure to work with. He is steadfast in his efforts to complete whatever he starts. He is a genius with glass and epoxy. I am proud to call him my brother.

So far he has rebuilt his plane twice. He did a complete restoration of my plane with some encouragement and assistance from me. He has also rescued a 1950 Cessna 170 A from the Florida hurricanes and has it almost flying. Dave named it Hurricane. He is working feverishly with Dick Duncan AIA owner of Wingís N Things at KCXY to get his A&P mechanics license. He will be leaving this Friday to deliver his dog fighter to itís new and Vari excited new owner Dewayne in Nevada.

If per chance I come sliding up along side him someday, I hope he appreciates the sentiment that I have for his plane. By the way mine is faster. See you all at some fly-in and thanks for all your help. I hope you enjoyed our story.

Mark Hanson
New owner and far from a builder

N-220 EZ

Kent, Washington

 

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