Caracas to Lakeland in a Long-EZ

Long-EZ builder and pilot Rudolfo Lucca.
Long-EZ builder and pilot Rudolfo Lucca.

If you ever begin to take your freedom to fly for granted, you should meet homebuilder and Long-EZ pilot Rudolfo Lucca. Rudy landed his beautiful Long-EZ on runway 9 at Sun 'n Fun on Monday to conclude an epic flight from his home in strife-ridden Caracas, Venezuela.  To make this journey, Rudy had to deal with no electricity or water at his home, almost unobtainable Avgas and a governmental bureaucracy bent on holding travelers hostage for crushing user fees.   But Rudy is a man on a mission. His goal, to fly to Sun' n Fun in the aircraft he constructed in his garage.

Rudy Lucca's homebuilding story began in better times, when he completed his Rutan Model 61 Long-EZ in his garage in Caracas. He still smiles as he recounts his first flight. It flew straight as an arrow and handled like a sweet little personal fighter. Best of all, Rudy discovered the Long-EZ was a stable and efficient cruiser, capable of long distance legs with good margins for safety. With an efficient Lycoming O-235 under the cowl, Rudy can make good speed at mid level altitudes, sipping only 6.5 gph. With later additions of upgraded avionics, an autopilot and GPS, he had a capable traveling machine.

Rudy's trip to SnF in YV101X began in Caracas, flying in loose formation with buddies Vittorio Assandra and Ricardo Coppola in a Cessna 206. He had to throttle back so that the Stationair could keep up. The intrepid Venezuelans flew the vast majority of the trip over water, VFR, no flight following, at 10,500 msl.   The first leg was a smooth, ending at El Higuero International Airport in the Dominican Republic.  The next morning the two ship formation took off from the Dominican Republic for a fuel stop in Stella Maris, Bahamas. From there, Ft. Lauderdale took another 2 hours and 19 minutes. Welcome to the Land of the Free. They did not take it lightly. Although the Venezuelans found the auctioneer pace of south Florida Controllers a challenge, they touched the numbers of Runway 9 with a sense of relief and accomplishment. Although Rudy will have to return to the chaos that is currently Venezuela, this week he is basking in the warmth of all that is aviation, and even more important, the camaraderie and support supplied by fellow pilots and home builders.

Rudy's beautiful Long-EZ, YV101X, is parked on the front row of Homebuilt Corner, on the taxiway east of show central.


Steve Ashby

Steve Ashby is a sometime lawyer and full time aviation aficionado from Atlanta, Georgia. He learned to fly in 1980 and has adopted a 1968 Skyhawk (your Grandma could fly it). Steve is also working on a Vans RV8-A which he swears will be completed on (a) Thursday.

9 Replies to “Caracas to Lakeland in a Long-EZ”

  1. And to think that I believed my flight from Houston to the Zenith factory in Missouri in 2017 in my Zenith 750 was a real adventure. Congratulations Rudy, & best of luck to you on the return trip. May want to consider declaring political refugee status and just stay awhile?

  2. Congratulations Rodolfo!

    See you there on Thursday or Friday, flying down from Ga in RV-9


  3. Felicidad Rudolfo! So glad you got that front seat flight in my Long EZ back in 2013.

  4. Rodolfo Flight is a case of Endeavor to Persevere, Indeed all started with the kindness of Mr, Magnuson in 2013, Rodolfo´s goal was always to go to S&F in his beloved Long EZ. he tried the first time a couple year back but bad weather got in his way. Afterwards with proper planning and training with all info he could get his hand on, he tried again this year. Congratulation Rodolfo.

  5. Great guy! Patrience is he’s middle name, Have the luck to be he’s friend and worked in a car engine built protect, one of my best builts!!! Good luck my man!!! My best wishes!! 😉

  6. I´m really surprised how long this trip has been, but he made it with success!! Congratulations and best regards. From SVCS

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