Dave Adams’ stock answer when you ask him how long it took to build his Long EZ is “only 11 years,” but the truth is more complicated than that.
He purchased a set of plans in 1983, but he didn’t start building right away. You see, he was a newlywed, and the new Mrs. Adams had made a deal with him: A washer and dryer came before a single dollar was to be spent on the airplane.
The washer and dryer later squared away, the Long EZ wasn’t actually the first flying machine the electrical engineer built. As a kid, he worked his way up from control line models, to free flight models, and finally to radio-controlled models. He says that after all of those, and after getting his pilot’s certificate, “building an airplane seemed like a normal progression.”
Adams said that the greatest challenge of the build — which largely took place in a spare bedroom in his rental house, with the subassemblies being passed out the window to be joined together in the garage — was “sticking with it, especially the finishing process before paint. Most of the aircraft is hand-laid-up fiberglass, and it’s rough before filler and primer is applied and sanded.” A process, says Adams, that must be done over, and over, and over…
But he says the plans were “well detailed, making it easy to follow, and the composite construction is forgiving in many ways.”
Adams now has a hair over 3,000 hours in his private pilot logbook, 1,800 of them in his Long EZ, which is based in a T-hangar at KUUV, the Sullivan Regional Airport in Sullivan, Missouri, less than half an hour from his home.
Adam’s Long EZ has a large blue race number emblazoned on its nose: 83, and that’s become the plane’s name. The number signifies one set of plans and two licenses in a single year.
“The race number comes from buying the plans, getting my pilot certificate, and getting married, all in 1983,” said Adams.
That race number isn’t just for show. Race 83 is a crazy-fast plane, clocking speeds well over 200 miles per hour down on the deck. He’s flown it in 75 Sport Air Racing League contests nationwide, racking up an impressive pile of trophies, including six National Championship wins, seven first place season victories in the Sprint Class, and three second place season standings in Sprint.
Other members of his Class have been overheard joking that they need to pass a hat to help him buy a bigger engine just so that they won’t have to race against him anymore.
But Adams’ love affair with air racing goes even deeper: He can be found each year in the race pits at the Reno Air Races, where he’s crewed on a number of the nation’s premier race planes. He served for two years as the crew chief for Alan Crawford before Crawford retired, and Adams is now serving on Sport Class President Bob Mills’ crew, working on the racer’s twin turbo Glasair III “Mojo” — a plane that took third in Sport Gold at Reno in 2019.
Still, Adams is best known for giving rides in his own race plane: Inviting hotel clerks, waiters and waitresses, FBO staff, fellow pilots, and race spectators to join him in the sky. Adams doesn’t keep track, but estimates he’s given more than 1,000 rides, plus another 100 Young Eagles flights, “for the simple pleasure of spreading the joy of aviation.”
While aviation is Adam’s “primary passion,” the engineer inside him can’t help but explore. He’s also built a pedal-powered hydrofoil watercraft and an amphibious bicycle, projects he calls “short diversions.”
What I fly
A Long EZ, Rutan model 61, David Adams build, powered by a modified O-235.
Why I fly it
Simply for pleasure and fast, efficient transportation.
How I fly it
Strictly VFR, to fly-ins, races, visiting family and friends, and to give rides.
Operating Costs Based on 100 Hours Per Year
Pursue your dreams!