Rutan Honored at AirVenture


There are arguably no more innovative and iconic aircraft than those designed by Burt Rutan. From the VariViggen and VariEze to the Long-EZ and Defiant, Rutan penned Experimental designs that both kick-started the movement in the 1970s and gave credence to fiberglass. Of course, his bigger projects included the round-the-world Voyager, which presaged so many amazing designs from the Grizzly STOL aircraft to the spaceship-lifting White Knight.

Rutan has been a frequent visitor to AirVenture and used the venue as the launching pad for his newest designs. I remember seeing the five-seat Catbird for the first time at Oshkosh, either 1988 or 1990. It looked sleek and fast, and something about the way the pilot sat in the front center (with, well, Row 2 just behind and outboard) just reinforced how Rutan could dexterously think out of the box.

At AirVenture 2019, many of Rutan’s designs were on display in Boeing Square, including a Long-EZ, a VariViggen, twin-engine Defiant, and a Beech Starship. On Thursday afternoon, a flyby of his homebuilt designs only reinforced how much Rutan defied convention. Rutan was to give a talk on Thursday evening.

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Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.


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