Burt Rutan is an aeronautical engineer. He is an American and was born on 17th June 1943 in Estacada, Oregon. He grew up in Dinuba, California. His passion for aircraft design began early in his life and he started designing model planes (Hennigan 1). He went to California Polytechnic State University to study aeronautical engineering. In 1965 he attained a BS degree in aeronautical engineering. Moreover, Rutan has six honorary doctorates:
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Doctoral of Science from Daniel Webster College in 1987, Honorary Doctor of Science from California Polytechnic University in 1987, Doctoral of Humanities from Lewis University in 1988, Doctoral of Technology from Delft University of Technology in 1990, Honorary Doctoral of Engineering from University of Illinois in 2006, and an Honorary Doctoral Degree from the Free University of Brussels in 2007 (Burt Rutan 1).
He designed several planes during the 45 years he was active before he retired in April 2011. He developed 367 individual designs and out of those 45 flew a remarkable achievement for the aeronautical maverick engineer. He made a significant contribution to the aviation industry that has left a lasting legacy (Hennigan 1).
After his graduation, he worked as a flight tester engineer for Edwards Air Force Base and worked in various projects (Hennigan 1). Later he relocated to Mojave and started Rutan Aircraft Factory. He used a $15,000 loan that his father gave him. He wanted to build small planes that were different from other planes already built. Furthermore, Rutan opened shop inside Mojave airport. He continued working on his plane designs and in 1975 he developed VariEze, an aircraft that looked like a rocket ship and recorded success with the model. “He later developed another aircraft called Long EZ that had the double distance endurance of 2, 010 miles than VariEze” (Hennigan 1). The planes designed by Rutan are efficient and simple to assemble. His brand stands for efficiency and also for innovation.
In 1982, Rutan founded Scaled Composites LLC Company. The goal of the company was to research and design planes both for commercial and government clients. He designed Voyager, a plane that flew around the world and did not stop to refuel. The plane was flown by Dick his brother. Voyager design and success was a milestone in the aviation industry (Hennigan 1). Moreover, he designed Virgin Atlantic Globalflyer that performed better than the Voyager and went around the earth in a shorter time. Through his company, he designed several planes that have left a legacy in the aviation industry.
Moreover, he designed a one-passenger sport airplane and called the prototype model Rutan model 49. Later he improved the model and came up with Quickie Rutan model 54 that had two seats. He also designed another plane for Sailplane Homebuilders Association called model 77 Solitaire, and it won a competition in a home built sailplane category. He also got involved in designing research planes, for instance, the Lotus Microlight aircraft, Ames AD-1. He also designed a hybrid flying car the BiPod that can fly and be driven on the road (A maverick in flight 1).
Rutan passion for planes is great and his interest led him to design a spaceship. He joined the movement because he felt that space travel is very expensive and dangerous. He wanted to come up with a cheap spaceship using his expertise. He designed SpaceShipOne and won a $10 million Ansari X prize. It became the first private spacecraft to tour space. The success is a major achievement in the aviation industry, especially for the private industry and the rejuvenation of pursuit for commercial space tourism.
Furthermore, the SpaceShipOne was developed at a low cost of $25 million compared to NASA’s similar project that cost $200 billion (Burt Rutan 1). He employed technology that enabled the plane to use a normal airstrip for takeoff. The technology allowed the spaceship to launch while high above the atmosphere. That meant the cost to send SpaceShipOne was low. He also came up with a new way of the spaceship re-entering the earth it was risky, but he employed it and it worked (Burt Rutan 1).
Besides, the significance of Rutan’s contribution is great, especially in his Voyager design. The design used lightweight composites resources. Consequently, modern airplanes are designed using lightweight composite resources such as Boeing 787. The voyager paved the way for technically sophisticated airliners. The contribution is major in the aviation industry as more efficient airliners are developed.
In conclusion, Rutan has made significant contributions to the aviation industry because he did not let criticism stop him. He followed his dreams and at the end, he designed planes that have changed the aviation industry. His contributions are enormous and he is recognized as a great American aeronautical engineer of all time. He paved the way for the design of light airplanes that have improved efficiency in the aviation industry. His contribution to affordable space travel is remarkable. He has opened a new frontier in space travel for private companies. His legacy will live for a long time in the aviation industry.
A maverick in flight. 2012. Web.
Burt Rutan. 2012. Web.
Hennigan W. Aerospace legend Burt Rutan ready for a landing. 2013. Web.