"I think Robert Harris knows more about EZs than Burt Rutan does."
I've been saying that for years and though it might be a stretch, there's a lot of it that could be true. Burt has been focused on a lot of things since he launched the Canard revolution. It's doubtful Burt's forgotten it all, but all the while he was busy launching one new design every year for 43 years, Robert Harris was building and repairing EZ's people brought to him at his modest shop in Covington, Tenn. Thats a lot of EZ's.
I met Robert and then wife Valerie at the annual Rough River Canard FlyIn over 30 years ago. They impressed me with their knowledge and practical approach to these airplanes. Over those last three decades I found myself visiting his shop as often as I could. There was always something interesting being worked on there. The range was from simple maintenance to rebuilding total wrecks. Visits to Roberts shop were like going to a retreat for EZ brainstorming.
The annual Rough River flyin was no different. One year the topic was putting a jet engine in an EZ. Robert said he knew how to do it. No one took him seriously except those of us who'd really seen what kind of innovation came out of Roberts shop. Greg Richter took him seriously enough to bring him his Mazda powered Cozy III and the CozyJET was born! With what he learned from the CozyJET Robert started sketching out other jets and before he knew it he had customers for 5 composite Canard jets. None are just a carbon copy of a LongEZ. Each one different. I said sketching because Robert is what I call a self-taught aeronautical engineer. His day job was a mechanic for Northwest Airlines until he retired. Now he is a full time jet builder and EZ repair station.
None of this happens overnight. It took decades, at least four of them, to get the quality of work Robert Harris does.