Rutan's Long-EZ was a satisfying and balanced design, yet it inspired some to play around with it... not always for the better.

Although an original design, the Dart owed a lot to Rutan's work

The Dart must have looked good on paper, but proved dangerous

The rear cockpit, controls panel and engine cowlings of the Dart

Manufacturer:  Jimmy R. Parrish, Plantation, Florida

Type:  experimental homebuilt two-seat canard pusher sportsplane

Powerplant: 1 x 80 hp ( 2074 cc) Volkswagen 2100 piston engine

Significant date: 1995

The Dart was an original design homebuilt aircraft built by Jimmy R. Parrish of Plantation, Florida, and was largely inspired by Rutan's Long-EZ aircraft. In the design stage, the Dart was planned with delta shaped wings; however, prior to the completion of the prototype, the wing configuration was changed, not for the proven Roncz airfoil of the Rutan family but a custom design. The same applied to the canards.

The Dart had a mixed wood and composite material construction, featured fixed main wheels and a retractable nose wheel, and could accept engines in the 75-125 hp range. The Dart prototype was powered with one 80 hp Volkswagen 2100 engine driving a Warp Drive ground adjustable prop so that the pitch could be played with. An extension shaft (Direct Drive) was used in the flywheel end of the engine, supported by a composite cone and a thrust bearing. The front nose came completely off for access to the battery, canard, brake master cylinders and rudder pedals. There were flight and throttle controls in both cockpits, with rudder and brakes in the front only. The rear cockpit used the front headrest for its instrument panel, which housed an airspeed, altimeter and compass.

A certification was issued for the type on 10 September 1992, and the prototype aircraft was first flown in the autumn of 1995. Rumor has it that it hasn't flown since that first flight, which ended badly in a crash (Parrish had already crashed his Dragonfly aircraft a mere eight years before that!). It appears that the Dart was largely rebuilt later, with its engine possibly replaced by a 75 hp Continental A75, though it is not certain. Although the prototype had a 20-foot wingspan, production kits were planned with a 23-foot wingspan instead. The Dart was marketed in kit form via Parrish Aircraft Experimental, Inc., a company founded by the designer.

The marketing of drawings for the Dart was later continued by Sunshine Aero Composites, Inc., for a cost of $450, and the company anticipated that some prebuilt parts would be available in the future. Water-cooled four-cylinder Subaru engines were suggested as a viable option for the Dart, and the so-called Legacy variant was said to be able to produce 150 hp. Although it was supposed to have a faster build time than a Long-EZ, the advantages of the Dart over the proven Rutan design were uncertain, to the extent that the type has been called "an unproven design with doubtful support" and almost certainly no additional aircraft were completed. Yet these plans continue to be listed in the Kitplanes annual plans directory every year — a scary notion for an aircraft that crashed on first flight and never flew since!

Population: 1 (c/n 001) [N191JP]

Max. speed: 200 mph
Cruise speed: 160 mph
Icr: 1,200 ft./minute
Ceiling: 20,000 ft.
Range: 1,100+ miles
Gross weight: 1200 lbs. (1300 lbs.)
Empty weight: 606 to 625 lbs. if wheel pants/spinner (650 to 700 lbs.)
Usable payload: about 600 lbs.
Total fuel capacity: approx. 24 gals. (30 to 35 gals.)
Fuel consumption: 3.5 gals. of fuel per hour at around 150-170 mph
Range: over 1000 miles
Nose gear: retractable (fixed or retractable)
Main gear: fixed (fixed or retractable)

Wingspan: 20 ft. (23 ft.)
Wing area: 65 sq. ft. (80 sq. ft.)
Canard span: 10.3 ft.
Canard area: 12.9 sq. ft.
Length 15.25 ft.
Height: 5.417ft.
Fuselage width (front): 24” (27”)
Fuselage width (rear) , 22” (27”)

Projected Cost:
Total: $12,000 to $18,000 Range
Airframe: $6,000 to $8,000µ
Engine (VW You Build): approx. $2,000
Basic VFR Instrumentation: $1,500 & up

Projected Building Time:
1500 hours as per prototype

Crew/passengers: 2

Main sources:
- the Sunshine Aero Composites,
- the Canard Zone forum

Many thanks to Walter van Tilborg for providing the basis for this article.