|PHOTO BY PHIL WESTON
This week aviation enthusiasts are poised to see the largest and most diverse gathering of Burt Rutan-designed aircraft ever assembled as EAA gives the homebuilding legend an appropriate retirement tribute at AirVenture Oshkosh 2011.
Rutan, who officially retired in April, will receive EAA’s Tribute to Burt Rutan on Thursday, July 29. There will be related activities and appearances throughout the week, none more prevalent than the deluge of Rutan-designed aircraft parked along the flightline and in other areas. More than 200 planes are expected.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the epic Voyager flight in which Burt’s brother, Dick, and Jeana Yeager flew Burt’s Voyager aircraft around the world without stopping or refueling. A special event to mark that aviation milestone is scheduled for Friday night. (Visit the EAA Welcome Center to reserve your spot.)
Rutan, EAA 26033, now holds the title of Scaled Composites’ founder and chairman emeritus. He is best known for his unique, innovative airplane designs, many of which were first seen by eager homebuilders annually at AirVenture.
Planes like the VariViggen (his first design), VariEze, and Long-EZ (his self-described “best” homebuilt); one-off marvels like the Boomerang, Voyager, GlobalFlyer, Grizzly, and SpaceShipOne; and, most recently, SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo all made their public debuts at Oshkosh.
To encourage a major gathering of Rutan-designed aircraft, EAA created a special parking area for them on the flightline.
Well-known Rutan aircraft designs will also be on prominent display and serve as a backdrop for various presentations during the week, as well as featured in the afternoon air show on Thursday, July 28.
“Burt is certainly an aviation icon and a pioneering visionary in the homebuilt movement,” said Tom Poberezny, EAA and AirVenture chairman. “Burt has been such an integral part of our convention. His designs are a staple on the flightline at Oshkosh, and attendees will marvel at the wide variety of innovation on display.”
EAA’s AirVenture Museum will also highlight several significant Rutan airplanes in its collection, including the VariViggen and VariEze prototypes, Amsoil racer, Grizzly, Voyager fuselage mock-up, Solitaire, Williams V-Jet II, and the SpaceShipOne feathering mock-up. Other activities include flying displays and a special program at Theater in the Woods slated for Thursday evening.
Between book-signing sessions and presentations, Burt has about a dozen appearances in the EAA schedule.
Rutan is a 1998 inductee to the Homebuilders wing of the EAA Hall of Fame. He graduated from Cal Poly in 1965 and went to work for the Air Force as a flight test project engineer. He founded the Rutan Aircraft Factory in 1974 to develop experimental aircraft designs for homebuilders, and then founded Scaled Composites in 1982.