EAA To Honor Rutan At AirVenture

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In honor of aircraft designer Burt Rutan's retirement, which he announced last month (PDF), EAA says it is planning a tribute to his work at AirVenture next summer. "Burt is certainly an aviation icon and a pioneering visionary in the homebuilt movement," said Tom Poberezny, EAA chairman. Rutan has been attending the annual event since 1971, often introducing new designs there. "Burt has been such an integral part of our convention," said Poberezny. "His designs are a staple on the flightline at Oshkosh." Rutan now serves as chief technical officer of Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif., but said he will retire effective April 2011 and assume the title of Scaled's founder and chairman emeritus. AirVenture 2011 will feature a "Tribute to Burt Rutan Day" on Thursday, July 28, with flying displays, a program at Theater in the Woods, and various special events.

Rutan is best known for his unique, innovative airplane designs, such as the VariViggen (his first), VariEze, and Long-EZ (his self-described "best" homebuilt); one-off creations like the Boomerang, Voyager, GlobalFlyer, Grizzly, and SpaceShipOne; and, most recently, SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo. EAA is working with builder, owner, and pilot groups to encourage a major gathering of Burt Rutan-designed aircraft at AirVenture 2011, and will also create a special parking area for them on the flightline. (Individuals with Rutan-designed aircraft who would like to participate in the tribute are asked to contact EAA via e-mail.) During AirVenture, EAA's Museum will 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. Also, the 25th anniversary of the round-the-world flight of Rutan's Voyager aircraft will be noted. AirVenture 2011 will be held July 25 to 31 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis.