#OSH11: A farewell tribute to Burt Rutan

I’ll be reporting on-scene this week from Oshkosh 2011, the annual pilgrammage of the world’s most ardent aviation fans. There’s no better way to start a show like this than a tribute to Burt Rutan, who will be honoured here all week after retiring in April.

Rutan’s Risky Business

By Stephen Trimble

Rutan waving credit Virgin Galactic.jpg

New ideas are powerful things, even when they are wrong. Aviation legend Dick Rutan is not criticising his younger brother when he says the aerodynamic ideas of the now-retired founder of Scaled Composites are generally wrong two times out of three.

After a 46-year career as a test pilot and pioneering aircraft and spaceship designer, a list of Burt Rutan‘s failed projects could fill the world’s most eclectic aviation museum.

But, oh, the ideas that worked…

A partial list of successful projects includes lightplanes (Vari-Eze, Long-EZ, Quickie, Defiant) designed to be almost impossible to stall; an admittedly dangerous aircraft design (Voyager), no heavier than a Beechcraft King Air, which circumnavigated the globe nonstop; and a privately-funded space vehicle (SpaceShipOne) configured to assume the perfect profile for safe re-entry.


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3 Responses to #OSH11: A farewell tribute to Burt Rutan

  1. jetcal1 25 July, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    You should add the designs he inspired to the list:
    And then were a couple that came off of the Quickie, I think one was called the dragonfly.

    More importantly, the vast majority of the aircraft he designed for the private pilot are easy to fly and had few if any bad habits. Comparing his designs to those of his first employer Jim Bede really puts emphasis on how good his designs have been.
    The Bede 1 (Yankee, TR,1 Lynx) is very marginal in high temps
    The Bede 5 has had a less than stellar safety record.

    The only problem I am aware of was stalling of the canard on the Eze series caused by rain or bugs.

    46 years? whoa…we’re getting old!

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  3. polo ralph lauren 8 August, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

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