burt rutan

The true definition of an innovator, Elbert "Burt" Rutan seems to have ignored all previous designs to create unique and in some cases revolutionary airplanes and spacecraft. Rutan was a very early adapter of composite materials, which helped form his unique, sometimes art-like airplane designs. His first design was made of wood and fiberglass - the tandem two-seat VariViggen, named after the Saab Viggen fighter jet. Like many of the Rutan designs that followed, the VariViggen was a pusher prop with a canard wing and two vertical stabilizers in lieu of a traditional empennage. It first flew in 1972. By 1977 the Rutan Aircraft Factory had sold 600 VariViggen plans. Many successful designs ensued, the VariEze and Long-EZ being the most abundant, and thousands of Rutan designed homebuilts are now flying around the world. But what made Rutan famous with the general public was arguably the Voyager, which carried Burt's brother Dick and Jeana Yeager around the world non-stop on one tank of gas. In 1982, Rutan formed Scaled Composites, LLC, which specializes in the development and flight test of composite airplanes and spaceships. Rutan's innovations have earned him many awards, including two Collier trophies. After designing SpaceShipOne, the spacecraft that won the Ansari X Price in 2004, Rutan was listed as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World. Before leaving Scaled Composites in 2011, Rutan completed the design of the first commercial spaceship — SpaceShipTwo.