John Roncz, Master Aerodynamicist To Experimental Aircraft, Flies West


John Roncz, the master aerodynamicist who worked on Burt Rutan’s Voyager and Scaled Composites’ Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer projects, died Sept. 28 at age 75. An honors graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Roncz contributed to the aerodynamic designs of more than 50 aircraft, overall. The Voyager, the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe nonstop and unrefueled, and Steve Fawcett’s GlobalFlyer are enshrined in the National Air & Space Museum. He also designed the wing sail for Stars and Stripes, the 1988 winner of the America’s Cup yachting prize.

In 2000, Roncz received the Australian Medal for design in London from His Royal Highness Prince Philip. He served as a Distinguished Lecturer for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and lectured as a guest at eight universities. Roncz was also honored as an “Old Master” by Purdue University.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. In the realm of soaring dreams, John Roncz’s artistry soared,
    A master of aerodynamics, his legacy adored.
    From Voyager’s global dance to GlobalFlyer’s high flight,
    In silence, he crafted wings that touched the sky’s infinite height.

    Honored by Prince Philip, an “Old Master” esteemed,
    His designs, like Stars and Stripes, in history gleamed.
    Lecturer and laureate, a tale in every flight,
    Roncz’s spirit lives on in the aerodynamic night.