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Where are you going next?

 Africa86 votes
76.11%
 South America3 votes
2.65%
 Europe3 votes
2.65%
 Eastern Asia5 votes
4.42%
 Carribean9 votes
7.96%
 Safeway5 votes
4.42%
 Australia2 votes
1.77%
total votes: 113
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WheresCherie.COM Quote
"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death." -- Harold Wilson

392--California: Parachute included?
@ CherieSpotting     Jul 20 2007 - 15:45 PST
cherie writes: One day Greg asked me if I wanted to see the plane that he built. Imagine that your boyfriend builds a plane. Wouldn’t you like it to have a remote control? Wouldn’t you want to take his toy plane to the park and do remote-control loops with it over a lake and crash it into some kid’s kite? But what if your boyfriend (who normally builds computer networks) built a real plane and wanted you to get inside?

The line between brave and stupid gets a bit blurred here. If we land, I’m brave. If we crash, I’m stupid. Upon looking at the cockpit I could only laugh when I saw the plane was driven by a joystick. Only a guy could design a plane that maneuvers with controls just like his video-games at home. And there’s even a red button at the top of the plane’s joystick. When you press it you have to say: “We’re too close for missiles, let’s switch to guns.”

Being brave, I squeezed myself into Greg’s experimental plane and stared at a sign that read “Passenger Warning: this aircraft is amateur built and does not comply with Federal Safety Requirements for standard aircraft.”

Last year Greg purchased a partially built kit-plane called the Long-EZ. It’s a canard plane which means it looks like a mix between a hammerhead shark in the sky and some funky futuristic thing that only James Bond would fly. But the Long-EZ has been around since the big hair of the 80s. About 700 Long-EZs are currently registered by FAA in the United States.

Probably the most famous thing about the Long-EZ is its designer Burt Rutan. Rutan created the Voyager, which was the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe without refueling. More recently Rutan designed White Knight, the aircraft that propelled SpaceShipOne (another Rutan design) into history by breaking the X-15 altitude record and winning the $10-million dollar X-Prize for being the first privately-manned space ship. SpaceShipOne rocketed pilot Brian Binnie 69.6 miles or 367,442-feet away from planet earth on October 4, 2004.

Greg and I are planning to stay a bit closer to earth with his Rutan-designed Long-EZ which can fly for over ten hours and up to 1,600 miles (2,500 kilometers) on 52 gallons (200 liters) of fuel. The home-built Long-EZ aircraft is extremely fuel efficient. In fact, when Greg and I travel in the plane we use less fuel than when driving in his car (and we get there twice as fast with no traffic!)

When the plane’s empty the Long-EZ weighs about 760-pounds or 345-kilos. If I’ve had a big breakfast, the plane weighs a bit more. The Long-EZ has a cruising speed of 160-knots or 291 kilometers-per-hour. The airplane goes way faster than Greg’s sailboat, which is currently for sale. In Greg’s world, faster toys win.

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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Greg and Cherie next to a home-built Long-EZ designed by Burt Rutan.

Greg and Cherie next to a home-built Long-EZ designed by Burt Rutan.

Greg next to his plane and his car. (The plane gets better gas mileage!)

Greg next to his plane and his car. (The plane gets better gas mileage!)

Cherie and Greg minutes before Cherie's first flight in the Long-EZ.

Cherie and Greg minutes before Cherie's first flight in the Long-EZ.

When you sit down the passenger is immediately comforted by this sign "Passenger Warning: this aircraft is amateur built and does not comply with Federal Safety Requirements for standard aircraft."

When you sit down the passenger is immediately comforted by this sign "Passenger Warning: this aircraft is amateur built and does not comply with Federal Safety Requirements for standard aircraft."

Hey, this little thing really flies!

Hey, this little thing really flies!

Soaring over the rugged beauty of Northern California.

Soaring over the rugged beauty of Northern California.

There's the airport at Half Moon Bay.

There's the airport at Half Moon Bay.

It's so peaceful up here, I feel like I don't even need a parachute (Good, because you don't have one!)

It's so peaceful up here, I feel like I don't even need a parachute (Good, because you don't have one!)

The Northern Californian coast.

The Northern Californian coast.

Look at all the people who want to live near the water!  We must be in San Francisco.

Look at all the people who want to live near the water! We must be in San Francisco.

There's the Golden Gate Bridge.

There's the Golden Gate Bridge.

Why is the Golden Gate Bridge brick colored?

Why is the Golden Gate Bridge brick colored?

Those little boats look like toys.  (The skippers are probably saying: That little plane looks like a toy!)

Those little boats look like toys. (The skippers are probably saying: That little plane looks like a toy!)

The aviator always gets a unique view of the city, in this case--San Francisco.

The aviator always gets a unique view of the city, in this case--San Francisco.

Greg makes flight plans on the canard of his "experimental" Long-EZ.

Greg makes flight plans on the canard of his "experimental" Long-EZ.

Aircraft designer Burt Rutan created the Long-EZ and the Voyager, which was the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe without refueling.  Greg built the Long-EZ (not the Voyager.)

Aircraft designer Burt Rutan created the Long-EZ and the Voyager, which was the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe without refueling. Greg built the Long-EZ (not the Voyager.)

The cockpit of the Long-EZ.  Pilots say the aircraft is manuvered by a side-stick controller; I call it a joystick.

The cockpit of the Long-EZ. Pilots say the aircraft is manuvered by a side-stick controller; I call it a joystick.

The Long-EZ at the airport.

The Long-EZ at the airport.

Ready to take off again?

Ready to take off again?

Greg's plane (the Long-EZ named "Charlie" in flight.)

Greg's plane (the Long-EZ named "Charlie" in flight.)

We named the plane "Charlie" because when you announce the plane to control towers you only say the last 3 numbers/letters on the plane (0CS) or Zero Charlie Sierra.

We named the plane "Charlie" because when you announce the plane to control towers you only say the last 3 numbers/letters on the plane (0CS) or Zero Charlie Sierra.

The Long-EZ won't stall even if reaches too low a speed. the front wing (also called a canard) will lower the aircraft nose until speed is regained.

The Long-EZ won't stall even if reaches too low a speed. the front wing (also called a canard) will lower the aircraft nose until speed is regained.

"Rocky", the flying squirrel, presents pilot Greg and passenger Cherie.

"Rocky", the flying squirrel, presents pilot Greg and passenger Cherie.

This Long-EZ has a wooden prop.

This Long-EZ has a wooden prop.

To assure that he would never forget Cherie's birthday, Greg put Cherie's B-day and initials on his plane.

To assure that he would never forget Cherie's birthday, Greg put Cherie's B-day and initials on his plane.

Cherie and Greg pose next to "Charlie" Greg's Long-EZ.  Cherie was the first passenger aboard Greg's homebuilt aircraft.

Cherie and Greg pose next to "Charlie" Greg's Long-EZ. Cherie was the first passenger aboard Greg's homebuilt aircraft.

Aviators in Cameron Park, California fly their planes home and park them in the garage.

Aviators in Cameron Park, California fly their planes home and park them in the garage.

All the homes in this Cameron Park aviation-friendly neighborhood have airplane hangars attached to their homes.

All the homes in this Cameron Park aviation-friendly neighborhood have airplane hangars attached to their homes.

The Long-EZ at rest.

The Long-EZ at rest.

Taxi down the runway.

Taxi down the runway.

Shockingly Cherie poses.  (A very rare moment; normally Cherie's so natural.)

Shockingly Cherie poses. (A very rare moment; normally Cherie's so natural.)

The Long-EZ is extremely fuel efficient and can fly for over ten hours and up to 1,600 miles (2,500 kilometers) on 52 gallons (200 liters) of fuel.

The Long-EZ is extremely fuel efficient and can fly for over ten hours and up to 1,600 miles (2,500 kilometers) on 52 gallons (200 liters) of fuel.

The Long-EZ design plans.

The Long-EZ design plans.

Long-EZs flying in formation.

Long-EZs flying in formation.

Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?

Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?

Four of the Rutan-designed aircraft.

Four of the Rutan-designed aircraft.