Navigating this Site: The site is organized roughly following the chapters of the Cozy build plans. Groups of chapters are available below the tabs at the top of each page. Hover over a tab and the available pages are shown below it. I'm still trying to provide cross links where they make sense, but when in doubt, check the tabs to find relevant stuff...
Thanks for visiting my website documenting the Cozy MKIV build.
Site Initialized: 2/3/2015
Last Updated: 11/10/2019 First Flight page
What is a Cozy MK IV?
If you haven't Googled it yet, here's my short description for non- aviation enthusiasts (family and friends who are wondering what the hell I'm doing...). The picture to the right is a group of aircraft nick named 'Canards' for the small canard wing in the front. Burt Rutan is a famous designer of these and other novel, high performance aircraft, including Voyager, which flew around the world without stopping or refueling in December 1986. It's such a cool aircraft that I've included it to the right as well, even though it doesn't look like a Cozy! Back to Cozy: Nat Puffer, with Burt's endorsement, scaled the 2 seat tandem Long EZ to a 3 seat Cozy III, which then evolved to the 4 seat MKIV shown below Voyager to the right. The MKIV is capable of 200+ mph speed and 1000+ mile range. All Cozy's are hand built from plans and the network of builders and builder/fliers online is very strong. There are over 200 MKIV's flying and I'd bought plans #1736.
How does this build happen?
It's not a kit, where you buy the pieces and assemble them. You buy the materials and follow the plans to make the major elements (fuselage, wings, landing gear canopy...), buy the engine, avionics, wheels/tires/brakes, and maybe some parts from other builders, and eventually you have it inspected, test it, and THEN you have a high performance Experimental plane.
If you are a builder: This site is being built as a communication tool on my experience, good and bad. It is not instruction on how to build a Cozy. The Cozy Plans are the reference for ALL builders, and should be followed, regardless of any deviations I show.
Why the Cozy?
There are lots of great references from other builders on the merits of building and flying a Cozy, and certainly the well known performance and strong builder/flyer group were the primary motivators for me. In particular, I was looking for a design oriented on longer flights cross country vs local flying. I also admired the flying efficiency and no-mold build process. I really was impressed with how the design (originated by Burt Rutan and modified well by Nat Puffer) leveraged the unique shaping properties of the material and the sequencing of the build process that allowed one to pursue the fabrication in limited space at home. I wanted 4 person carrying capacity primarily to handle flights of 2 with luggage, and occasional 3-4 person shorter flights. I also wanted to work with composites to rekindle experience I'd had in marine applications periodically since college. Each builder has the same plans so there's a flightworthy baseline, but over the years, many have experimented with improvements, which are shared and sometimes adopted by others. The builder's group (see references below) is vocal and cares for the quality and safety of the community, so debate on changes from the plans is common, which has allowed for some well accepted improvements, and information on risks/benefits associated with other modifications. Though I plan to build a relatively conservative (not many changes) I've accepted the implementation of a slightly longer nose, based on the path of David Pierce prior to my picking up his project.
Oh yea, it was really important that I not be alone in the building and flying of this fine aircraft. See the maps to the right of places where Cozy or other canards are being built and/or flown. It's great to know where we're dispersed, and I've visited others along the journey of my build.
My History with Composites
I first gained a love of this material in a 1980 summer apprenticeship at Composite Technology Incorporated, owned and run by Andy Green, who was a contemporary of Burt Rutan in the composite innovation business working in the sailboat and race car domains. The picture to the right is of the Chaparral of the mid 1960's which introduced a fully composite chassis designed and built by Andy that shocked the Grand Prix world at the time. Now composite chassis is the the only thing used. My work was characterizing and improving automated production lines for glass/epoxy panels and building structures (Box Beams, I- Beams, and long span heavy duty corrugated panels) being built for chemical processing plant applications. Worker protection in those days was limited and it's a wonder I didn't develop epoxy allergies even with the dishwashing gloves we wore, but I remember that by the end of the summer when I returned to school; my clothes, skin, hair, everything smelled like polyester resin, which was being used on other products in the plant. Since that time, the advancement of fiber reinforced composites continues, with very high strength to weight ratios and shaping/integrating characteristics and processing methods. Over the decades since then I've worked with composites periodically, typically performing repairs on boats. I followed the exploits of Burt Rutan from afar, not being a pilot, and dreamed of someday flying in a Long EZ.
Even with the above I would not have had the courage to take on a composite airplane build without having been exposed to aircraft fabrication by my friend Ken Tyson, who built an RV-9A and showed me the practical pursuit of such a large project.
Information and References for my Cozy build
One can find lots of information online for the Cozy and building a Cozy with google and other search engines. Must review sites for someone considering buying or building a Cozy MKIV are given below. I strongly encourage joining this group and watching the traffic to determine if this is your kind of project before making the full commitment. Another important factor is getting support (or at least acceptance) by your spouse or other persons with whom you want to maintain a long term relationship. This is going to take a while and like other long term projects, it should not become a wedge in your relationships.
Start here for information:
- cozyaircraft.com (see the FAQ subpage and the Why build a Cozy? subpage)
- cozybuilders.org (this is Marc Zeitlin's unofficial page for the builders and for performance information check out the General Information link)
Erlend Moen also has a great site with canard picture calendar links every month and also links to other builders' sites by chapter.
Scroll down on cozybuilders.org and you will find links to "Other Folk's Cozy Aircraft". Lots of good stuff here, and these I use quite often in combination with the plans (not in any special order):
- Bernard Siu
- Wayne Hicks
- Mark Zeitlin
- John Basol
- Mike Satchell
- Brian DeFord
I also read Nate Mullins' blog as I started to consider the UL Power engine option.
I hope that my site and experience contributes in some small way to others, as I continue to stand on the shoulders of other builders. I will not document all my work on the site, since this is covered in a detailed chronological build log I keep, and the plethora of pictures I take as I go. However, I try to emphasize things here that were particularly tricky for me, or that I did in a manner that might be of value to other builders traveling similar paths.
Shortly after I started my build, I purchased partially developed parts from David Pierce's MKIV project working with Plans #1068. Though David did GREAT work, partial projects always involve re-work on components. I organized my work around MY Plans #1736 bought from Aircraft Spruce, and returned to every chapter to insure each piece was complete and built to standards I expect of myself.
I also want to recognize the camaraderie of Ben Bennett and Nelson Amen and Les Behrens who are fellow Cozy builders in the central Texas area. We have shared canopy purchases from Todd's, TB forms, tools, ACS purchases, and lots of good fun prodding each other along. Mike Satchell in Ft Worth and I, have also shared lots of information and he loaned me one of his flexible sanding boards on one of my visits. Vance Atkinson has provided valuable advice along the way and I've adopted a number of his innovative subsystem designs in my Cozy.
And here it is after 1740 hrs (attached winglets and rough finishing through primer, no engine). I can see imperfections out in the sun that I couldn't see in the garage, but nothing I can't easily improve on after getting through flight testing. I have a time lapse of wing attachment process here.
Here's a look at the Cozy at the airport with cowlings on and nose top taped in place. She's completed first flight and is now in Phase I testing.
Beyond the Build: In addition to preparing this aircraft, I need to prepare myself. I got my Private Pilot License in 2000 and stopped flying within a year while working on my instrument rating. I loved flying but my family was growing and financial emphasis had to go elsewhere. I started re-training in 2015 and regained my endorsement in October in a Cessna 152. I quickly realized that for me, building the Cozy and getting better at flying were just too taxing while working full time and taking care of family, so I stopped flying again. In early 2019 after moving the Cozy to hangar, I re-initated flying and completed my Biannual Flight Review in the Spring of 2019. I'm flew regularly in rental planes and periodically got some right seat time as available from other Cozy owners to prepare for my Phase I Cozy testing. My first solo in a Cozy was 12/4/19 in this airplane I built, and now I mix right seat time with others to learn more, with my solo testing of N78CZ.
Disclaimer: This is the first website I've ever built and posted. It's also the first aircraft I've ever built. In both cases I'm likely to make plenty of mistakes along the way. My standards are high however, and I'm very willing to admit these mistakes and fix them as needed to produce a very high quality and high reliability aircraft. If you see a problem on this site or with something you see I've done, contact me and let me know. Thanks and enjoy.