|Linda and Patrick Elliott arrived at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011 on Sunday in the Long-EZ. Accompanying them on the trip is “Little Ted,” a miniature teddy bear wearing a St. Christopher’s medal.
PHOTO BY ANDREW ZABACK
On September 11, 2010, Linda and Patrick Elliott took off in their Long-EZ with no intention of flying around the world.
“We said we’d see how far we can get,” Linda said.
That sentiment has taken the couple from Surrey, England, nearly two-thirds of the way around the world to their arrival in Oshkosh on Sunday for the start of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011.
And they originally planned to fly their homebuilt only to Australia from France.
After 18 months of planning, the Elliotts departed France on September 11, 2010, flying eastbound with avgas availability determining their stops.
They’ve visited Italy, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. They touched down in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and, finally, Australia.
Then they flew back to Indonesia and stopped in Taiwan before their EZ was dismantled for its trip across the Pacific to Vancouver, British Columbia.
Once reassembled, the couple took off for Alberta, Canada, crossing into the United States on June 27.
And since then they’ve been to Maine, Maryland, North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, and Missouri.
The accidental pilgrims
“We had no plans to go to Oshkosh at all,” said Patrick, EAA 358299. “We were going to go through northern Canada and then head straight back home.”
But while in Canada, they heard of the Rutan celebration at AirVenture and knew they had to come.
The Long-EZ is, after all, one of Rutan’s most-successful and enduring designs.
“Everywhere we went, the EZ has become a celebrity,” Linda said. “A lot of countries have never seen anything like it.”
It’s that innovative design that first drew Patrick, who flew commercially for 31 years with British Airways, to the plane. He bought the plans, started building it in 1992, and finished it 16 years later, in 2008.
The Elliotts plan to stay at Oshkosh until July 31, and then steer to Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom, arriving back where they started in France exactly one year later.
The trip is the journey
So far, they’ve spent about 240 hours flying; the entire trip should take about 300 hours, Patrick said.
They have seen a lot of sights since leaving France—the Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal, the Sydney Bridge, the towering cliffs in Thailand, and the Rocky Mountains of the United States.
But what they will remember most about the trip is the people they met.
“People have been very helpful and friendly, and one man we befriended in Taiwan organized everything to ship our plane, and he even paid for it,” Patrick said. “Each place we’ve gone has been different, but what has impressed us is the welcome the airplane has received.
“That will be the biding memory of our trip.”