Burt Rutan

Elbert Leander “Burt” Rutan (born June 17, 1943) is an American Aerospace engineer noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, energy-efficient aircraft . He designed the record-breaking Voyager , welke was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and the sub-orbital spaceplane SpaceShipOne , welke won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004 for Becoming the first privately funded Spacecraft to enter the realm of space Twice binnen a two-week period. With his VariEze design, Rutan verantwoordelijk for popularizing the canard configuration and moldless composite construction for home-built aircraft .

He has designed 46 aircraft Throughout his career, bone the co-recipient of the Collier Trophy on two separate occasions, RECEIVED six honorary doctoral degrees and has won over 100 awards for différent Aerospace design and development. [1] [2] Rutan has five aircraft on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC , United States: SpaceShipOne , the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer , Voyager , Quickie , and the VariEze . [3]

Life and career

Born in 1943 in Estacada, Oregon , 30 miles southeast of Portland , and raised in Dinuba, California , Burt Rutan displayed an early interest in aircraft design. By the time he was eight years old have been designing and building model aircraft. His first solo flight piloting an airplane in an Aeronca Champ in 1959. In 1965 he graduated third in his class from the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo) with a BS degree in Aeronautical Engineering . [4] [5]

From 1965 to 1972 Rutan was a Civilian flight test project engineer for the US Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base , working on nine separate projects waaronder the LTV XC-142 VSTOL transport and spin testing of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom fighter. [6] He left to Become Director of Development of the BD-5 aircraft for Bede Aircraft in Newton, Kansas , a position he held Until 1974. [7]

In June 1974, Rutan Returned to California to Establish the Rutan Aircraft Factory . In this business have designed and developed prototypes for verschillende aircraft, mostly intended for amateur builders. His first design, Executed while he was still at Bede was the VariViggen, a two-seat pusher single-engine craft or canard configuration. The canard mention anything Become a feature or many Rutan designs, notably the very popular VariEze and Long-EZ. [8]

In April 1982, Rutan founded Scaled Composites , LLC, welke has Become one of the world’s pre-eminent aircraft design and prototyping facilities. Scaled Composites is Headquartered in Mojave, California , at the Mojave Air & Space Port . [9] That composition year, Beechcraft CONTRACTED Rutan’s Scaled Composites to Refine the design and build the prototype Beechcraft Starship .

In 1995 Rutan was inducted into tje National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio , was listed have in 2004 as one of Time magazine ‘s “100 Most Influential People in the World”, [10]and have RECEIVED the 2005 NAS Award in Aeronautical Engineering from the National Academy of Sciences . [11]

In a 2010 interview, Rutan Articulated his motivation for ontwikkelingslanden suborbital technological projects with SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo . He was ontwikkelingslanden suborbital spaceflight technology Because in this “we kan beste some Breakthroughs,” making zoals flight “orders or magnitude safer and orders or magnitude more affordable. I’m taking this step Because I think Achieving something dat has never existed in Manned spaceflight – and therein is high volume and public access – I think it is important to do that and to do it as soon as skies. ” [12]

Rutan is married to Tonya Rutan. [13] He retired from Scaled Composites in April 2011. That co year, he became honored as a Living Legend of Aviation , Receiving the Bob Hoover Freedom of Flight Award. In 2012, Rutan ghosts on “Innovation and the Space Race” to the World Affairs Council, as Recorded on C-Span. [14] Flying magazine ranked im at number 18 on hun 2013 list, “51 Heroes of Aviation”. [10] Rutan was ook a recipient of the prestigious Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy in 2015. [15]

Aircraft designs

In a 45-year career, lycra or Rutan’s designs port of or in leg quite dissimilar from hun predecessors. “His airplanes and Spacecraft tasks on all types of sleek shapes and sizes, looking more like the work of a sculptor dan an engineer. In all, Rutan has come up with 367 individual concepts – or welke 45 port Flown.” [16]


VariViggen and VariViggen SP

In 1968, he Began building his first design, the VariViggen , welke first Flew in April 1972. It was the rear wing, forward canard , and pusher configuration design elements which became his trademarks. [8] In lieu of wind tunnel testing, Rutan developed aerodynamic parameters for the VariViggen using a model rigged Atop his station wagon , and the Measured forces while driving on empty roads.

The VariViggen was the Rutan model 27. A new set of outer wings, with winglets, was later developed by Rutan for the VariViggen, Producing the VariViggen SP, Rutan model 32. The VariViggen was named in honor of the Saab 37 Viggen , a canard -configured fighter jet developed in Sweden. One VariViggen, built in France and named Micro Star, was powered by two Microturbo TRS-18 jet engines in lieu of the usual piston engine . [17]

VariEze and Long-EZ

The VariViggen design led to the successful [16] Rutan VariEze (pronounced “very easy”) [16] home built experimental aircraft designs, in welke have pioneered the use of moldless glass-reinforced plastic construction in homebuilts. The prototype made its public debut at the 1975 EAA Convention and Fly-In (now called AirVenture) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin . [18] That composition year, his brother Dick Rutan set a world distance record in the under-500 kg (1100 lb) class in the VariEze, [19] and synthesis aircraft went on to set other world records in this class. [20] Way Down ulcers’ll be the first aircraft to fly with NASA developed winglets . [21] The Long-EZ had a range of 2,010 miles (3.230 km), about Twice therein or the VariEze. [16]

Rutan later revised the VariEze design Providing more volume for fuel and cargo, resulting in the Rutan model 61 Long-EZ , designed to be powered by a Lycoming O-235 , hoewel de some port-used Lycoming O-320S or Lycoming O-360s . The Long-EZ ook has a revised wing spar design therein are not subject to the 2.5 g positive, 1.5 g negative, maximum load factor limit toegepast to the VariEze after the discovery of problems with some VariEze wings. [22]


Rutan was approached by Gene Sheehan and Tom Jewett to dévelop a single-seat personal sports aircraft. Following a Preliminary canard project (model 49), a tandem wing configuration was designed Eventually, to be powered by an 18 hp Onan industrial engine . The prototype (Rutan Model 54) was built in 1977 and registered as N77Q. After 5 months of testing, Quickie Aircraft for customer the aircraft as the Rutan Model 54 Quickie in 1978. [ citation needed ]

Two derivatives of the Quickie ulcers subsequently developed, zowel expanded to include two seats. Quickie Aircraft had Gary LaGare dévelop the Q2 , while Viking Aircraft developed the Viking Dragonfly . [23]


The Sailplane Homebuilders Association (Now the Experimental Soaring Association) opened a competition for a home built, self-launching sailplane. Rutan designed the model 77 Solitaire for this competition, welke it won. The sailplane was canard-Configured, with a Retractable engine ahead of the cockpit. [24]

Research aircraft

ARES Also called the Mudfighter , ARES is a full-size flying and shooting prototype or a lightweight low-cost aircraft with a similar ground attack, ground support role as the A-10 .


Rutan designed the model 72 Grizzly to Investigate the Possibility of a SET canard aircraft. It was retired after testing. [25]

Lotus Microlight

Rutan was approached by Colin Chapman , the founder of Lotus Racing, to design a single-seat ultralight aircraft. Again, a canard configuration was developed, the Rutan model 91. Colin Chapman’s untimely death brought` this project to an end, after the aircraft had Flown. [26]

Ames AD 1

In the 1980s, NASA Issued a contract to Ames Industrial Company of Bohemia, New York to dévelop a small, low-cost aircraft to Investigate Robert T. Jones ‘ s (a NASA researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center ) oblique wing concept. Ames turned to Rutan, who designed a small, Fiberglass Airframe, powered by two Microturbo TRS-18 jet engines. This was the Rutan model 35, the Ames AD 1 . After Completion of the test program, the AD-1 was retired and is now on exhibit in the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California . [27]


A departure from the canard design was the Rutan Boomerang , perhaps one of the unconventional designer’s most unconventional aircraft. The aircraft, the Model 202 Boomerang is an asymmetric twin-engine tractor configuration aircraft with one engine on the fuselage and Another mounted on a pod. A November 1996 Popular Mechanics feature article zegt it “looks more like a trimotor dat zijn lost right tree and engine”. [28]


Rutan’s most recent design, BiPod is a hybrid flying car . Announced in July 2011, the twin-pod vehicle has a wingspan of 31 feet 10 inches; with the wings reconfigured (stowed tussen de pods), the car has a width of 7 feet 11 inches and fits in a single-car garage. The design has two 450 cc four-cycle engines , one in lycra pod, welke power a pair of generators therein in turn power the electric cars-used for propulsion. ” Lithium-ion batteries in the nose or lycra pod will bieden power prolongation takeoff and an emergency backup for landing. With a cruising speed of 100 miles per hour (160 km / h), Scaled Composites says the BiPod 367 mention anything harbor a range or 760 miles (1,220 km). ” The plane can fly at 200 miles per hour (320 km / h) welke reduces the range to 530 miles (850 km). “Out on the road, this roadable aircraft, welke Carries 18 US gallons (68 l; 15 imp gal) or fuel is pure chance to have a nice driving range or 820 miles. It has a claimed electric-only range of 35 miles.” [29] Flight controls are in the right pod, road controls (steering wheel and brakes) in the left. [30]

Performance aircraft

Amsoil Racer The Rutan Model 68 Amsoil Racer is a racing aircraft or Quickie configuration (1981).


Rutan was approached by his brother Dick about designing an airplane therein Could Fly nonstop, unrefueled around the world, something dat had never been done voordat. [31] Around-the-world flights had bone accomplished by military crews using in-flight refueling . [32]

Burt developed a twin-engined (piston engines, one pusher and one tractor) canard-Configured design, the Rutan model 76 Voyager . The pusher engine ran Continuously, the tractor engine was-used for take-off and initial climb to altitude, dan was shut down. [33] [34]

The aircraft was first Flown with two Lycoming O-235 engines. After development work, it was reengined with a Continental O-200 (modified to include liquid cooling ) as the pusher engine and a Continental O-240 as the tractor engine. [35]

If a flight Proving Dick and his partner Jeana Yeager made a record setting flight endurance [ clarification needed ] off the coast of California. In January 1986, they ‘took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California and Flew around the world (Westward) in nine days, fulfilling the aircraft’s design goals. The Voyager was retired and now hangs in the Milestones of Flight exhibit in the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) main exhibit hall, [36] with the Wright Flyer , Spirit of St. Louis and Bell X-1 .

Burt and Dick Rutan, Along with Yeager, RECEIVED the Presidential Citizens Medal from Ronald Reagan and the Collier Trophy for hun policymaking as the Voyager team.


Desi Ring a new personal airplane, Rutan designed a five-seat, single-engined Pressurized airplane, the Model 81 Catbird . The airplane was Configured as a three-surface aircraft (canard, main wing, and tail). After serving as Rutan’s personal airplane, it was retired. The Catbird is notable for winning the CAFE Challenge aircraft efficiency prize in 1993. [37]

Pond Racer

Concerned about the dwindling numbers of World War II aircraft , with many being consumed in use as Unlimited Class racers at the Reno Air Races, Bob Pond CONTRACTED Scaled to design an Unlimited Class racer. The result was the Pond Racer . After design studies, a twin-engined, Conventional Configured layout was Chosen. The aircraft was powered by two 1000 hp Electromotive Nissan VG-30 3-liter GTP piston engines running on methanol . The aircraft was built and tested voordat delivery to the customer. It Appeared at the Reno Air Races in 1991, 1992 and 1993. The aircraft was DESTROYED in a forced landing crash on September 14, 1993, killing pilot Rick Brickert. [38]


The Model 281 Proteus is a tandem-wing high-endurance aircraft designed by Rutan to Investigate the use of aircraft as high altitude telecommunications relays. The aircraft’s requirements ulcers designed by Angel Technologies and Broadband.com. Its first flights ulcers in 1998. It holds verschillende altitude records set in 2000. [39]


On March 3, 2005, the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer , an aircraft similar to the Voyager design, but built by Rutan’s new company Scaled Composites, with stiffer materials and a single jet engine , COMPLETED the first solo nonstop, non-refueled flight around the world with Adventurer Steve Fossett as pilot. Reducing weight was critical to the design and Rutan is quoted as facetiously score his staff dat als ze finish building a part, they ‘must throw it up in the air for a weight test, and “If it comes down, it’s too heavy.” [40] Between February 7, 2006 – February 11, 2006, Fossett and the GlobalFlyer set a record for the longest flight in history: 41,467.53 km (25,766.73 mi), the third absolute world record set with this aircraft [41] voordat being Flown to the NASM Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center . Global Flyer is the sixth vehicle designed by Rutan in the NASM collection. [42]



The Scaled Composites Triumph was a twin-engine business jet prototype designed and built for Beechcraft . The aircraft is a three lifting surface design, with both a small forward wing, and a small Conventional horizontal Stabilizer in a T-tail configuration.

visionary Vantage

The visionary VA 10 Vantage is a prototype single-engined light business jet (or ” very light jet ” framing known as VLJ) developed by visionary Jets Corporation. In 1996, Rutan designed the first prototype, a proof-of-concept aircraft intended to confirm the design’s handling, welke resulted in verschillende problems and a redesign of the aircraft in 1998.

V-Jet II

The Williams V-Jet II was a VLJ designed and built as a test bed and demonstrator aircraft for Williams International ‘s new FJX-1 turbofan engine. It served as the design inspiration for the Eclipse 500 .

Adam M-309

The Adam M-309 CarbonAero was a technology demonstrator six-seat civil utility aircraft designed by Rutan and built by Scaled Composites. It developed into tje A500, welke is produktie at Adam Aircraft Industries .

Spacecraft designs


Rutan made headlines again in June 2004 with SpaceShipOne , which became the first privately built, Flown and funded Manned craft to reach space. The project, named ” Tier One ” (later known as Tier 1b ), was developed and Flown by Mojave Aerospace Ventures , a joint venture tussen Rutan’s Scaled Composites and co-founder of Microsoft , Paul Allen . On October 4, SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X Prize , completing two flights within two weeks, flying with the equivalent weight of 3 persons, and doing so while reusing at least 80% of the vehicle hardware. The project team was honored with the 2004 Collier Trophy , awarded by the National Aeronautic Association for “greatest achievement in Aeronautics or astronautics in America.” The craft embodies Rutan’s unique style, and is Another of the “icons of flight” displayed in the NASM Milestones of Flight exhibit. [43]

SpaceShipTwo Project

Virgin Galactic -an offshoot of executives and investor Sir Richard Branson ‘s Virgin Group , and the parent company of Branson and Rutan’s 2005 Spacecraft manufacturing startup The Spaceship Company -announced dat it mention anything about starting space tourism flights in 2008 using craft based on the designs or SpaceShipOne. Dubbed SpaceShipTwo , synthesis new craft framing designed by Rutan, are intended to allow directive six “experience optimized” PASSENGERS to glimpse the planet from 70-80 miles up into suborbital space. Production of the first or five Planned SpaceShipTwo craft has started, but commercial flights did not begin as Planned in 2008. An explosion at the Scaled Composite factory at the Mojave Spaceport on July 26, 2007 welke killed three engineers and seriously injured three others, nov port Contributed to the delay. Way Down ulcers testing components for SpaceShipTwo , but as of August 2007 Scaled Composites remained dedicated to perfecting the design of SpaceShipTwo. [44] Virgin Continues to work on ontwikkelingslanden SpaceShipTwo, but it has stopped predicting als commercial spaceflights will start. [45] A working area SpaceShipTwo accident on October 31, 2014 ( VSS Enterprise tail number: N339SS) resulted in the death of pilot Michael Alsbury and injuries to the copilot. [46]

Rutan was ook working with t / Space in the mid-2000s on the development of an air launched , two-stage-to-orbit, Manned Spacecraft. It was intended to harbor a taxi capacity to carry PASSENGERS to the International Space Station . In June 2005 air drop tests or quarter scale mockups verified the practicality of air release and rotation to vertical. [47]

White Knight Two

On July 28, 2008, Richard Branson Unveiled Scaled Composites White Knight Two “Eve” at the Mojave Spaceport . The jet-powered cargo aircraft is based on SpaceShipOne’s successful Mothership, White Knight , welke Itself is based on Proteus. Flight tests ulcers set to begin in September 2008. [48] [49] The launch customer of White Knight Two is Virgin Galactic , welke will harbor the first two units, and exclusive rights to the craft for the first few years. In 2008, Branson predicted dat the maiden space voyage mention anything tasks place binnen 18 months: “It represents … the chance for our ever-growing group of future Astronauts and other scientists to see our world in a completely new light.” Virgin Galactic CONTRACTED Rutan to build the Mothership and Spacecraft. [50] [51]

Anthropogenic climate change skepticism

On July 29, 2009, Rutan drew a full house for his presentation at the Experimental Aircraft Association ‘s EAA AirVenture 2009 Oshkosh Conference entitled “Non-Aerospace Research Quests or a Designer / Flight Test Engineer” where he discussed his thoughts on his hobby global warming . [52]He-then updated and extended his Oshkosh presentations in 2010 and 2011. [53] [54]

Admitting in his presentation dat he was not a climate scientist, Rutan ook acknowledged his bias in favor of technology and Against “government expansion”

“I put myself in the (Those who fear expansion of Government control) group, and do not hide the fact dat I have a clear bias on anthropogenic global warming (AGW). My bias is based on fear or Government expansion and the Observation or AGW data presentation fraud – not based on financial or Any Other personal benefit. I merely port noticed that the closer you look at the data and alarmists’ presentations, the more fraud you find and the less you think there is an AGW problem … for decades, as a professional experimental test engineer, I have Analyzed experimental data and watched Vodafone massage and presenting data. I became a CYNIC: My conclusion – “if someone is aggressively selling a technical product Whose merits are dependent on complex experimental data have is LIKELY lying. “That is true Whether the product is an airplane or a Carbon Credit.”

He describes his interest on the climate change topic as deriving from his “interest in technology, not act hugging”.

Rutan will ook not interview with Scientific American , as he claimed therein the magazine has “… improperly Covered man-made global warming. Way Down drinking Kool-Aid Limit download doing research. Way Down Parrot stuff from the IPCC and Al Gore .” [55]


On November 3, 2010, Scaled Composites announced the Retirement or Rutan:

“Burt Rutan, founder of Aerospace research firm Scaled Composites in 1982, has announced his plans to retire in April 2011. He Currently Serves as Scaled’s chief technical officer and, volgende his Retirement, Burt will assume the title of founder and chairman emeritus. Burt has worked in California’s Antelope Valley for morethan 45 years, initially as a flight test project engineer for the Air Force and in 1974 he founded the Rutan Aircraft Factory to developement experimental aircraft for Homebuilders. ” [56]

“Burt is Berninahaus worldwide as a legendary genius in aircraft design in the aviation world. I am very fortunate and proud to port worked at his side for the Past 28 years, “says President Douglas B. Shane. “We wish Burt and his wife, Tonya, the very best the future holds for them.” [56]

On April 1, 2011, Rutan retired from Scaled Composites to his home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho . He zegt dat he is working on one more innovative design. [16] In July 2011, this was revealed to be a hybrid flying car, the Model 367 BiPod . [29]

Working as an individual out of his home in Retirement, in 2015 he Began water and flight testing a prototype or a new Amphibian aircraft, the Rutan SkiGull , intended to be Capable of flying tussen Hawaii and California, cruising at 200 mph, taking off or landing in about 400 feet on challenging Surfaces waaronder rough terrain, seas, grass, snow, or ordinary runways, fueled by ordinary automotive or marine gasoline, and keeping small electric motors for power scoring or emergency landing. [57] [1] [58] [59]


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