Air International 1985-04
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D.Brown - Rutan - a Family Affair
In 1979, Rutan designed the Model 35 to provide NASA with a test-bed for the skew-wing configuration. It was built by Ames Industrial as the AD-1 and was flight-tested successfully.
Rutan's Model 115 is the 0-85 scale proof-of-concept prototype for the Beech Starship, built at Mojave under Rutan’s engineering direction.
Designed and built for an attempt to fly round-the-world non-stop, the Rutan Voyager is shown on an early test-flight over the Californian desert.
The configuration of Voyager is unique, with the two booms joined to the fuselage by the forward canard but unconnected aft of the wing. The tiny cockpit is offset to starboard and two windows give light to the equally-cramped rest compartment.
The low frontal area of Voyager can be gauged from this view of the aircraft in its hangar at Mojave. Flights of up to 11 hours duration have already been achieved and some record attempts are likely to be made this year before the round-the-world flight
Voyager, on its first flight at Mojave in June 1984. An oil leak in the front engine resulted in the flight being completed on the rear engine alone, as shown in this photograph.
Model 31 VariEze combines the canard layout of the original VariViggen design with more conventional home-building construction techniques, to reduce the time required for completion by amateurs.
The first VariViggen built by an amateur constructor, N27MS was completed by Mike Melvill, who subsequently joined Rutan as an engineer and test pilot.
An example of the Quickie, a single-seater for amateur construction that features Rutan design philosophy but is somewhat easier to build than the VariViggen.
Rutan's latest prototype is the Model 480 Predator agricultural aircraft, developed for Advanced Technology Aircraft Company.
Model 72, first flown in 1982, was a STOL proof-of-concept aircraft, now used as a glider tug for Solitaire.
Most of Burt Rutan's activities have concerned powered aeroplanes, but his canard layout has also been successfully adopted for the Model 77 Solitaire self-launching sailplane (with a retractable engine/propeller combination in the nose).
The Defiant was Rutan's attempt to develop a four-seat variant of the basic VariEze. This is the prototype, but plans are now available to home-builders.
The Defiant prototype in flight, showing its typical Rutan configuration. The two engines on the centreline avoided engine-out trimming problems and each engine has its own independent fuel and electric systems.