OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — Burt Rutan, the visionary aircraft designer, will be back at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2015 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his iconic VariEze aircraft.
AirVenture, the 63rd annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in convention, will be held July 20-26 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.
Rutan’s designs have been groundbreaking for more than 40 years, beginning with the VariViggen in the early 1970s through the concepts that became the SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo vehicles that are launching the era of space tourism.
His use of canard wings and composite materials changed the look and efficiency of homebuilt aircraft, with more than 1,000 airplanes based on his designs now flying in the U.S. alone.
“There are few individuals in the history of aviation who can match Burt Rutan’s imagination and accomplishments,” said Jack Pelton, EAA chairman of the board. “His presentations are eagerly anticipated whenever he is in Oshkosh. Although he officially ‘retired’ several years ago, his innovative mind continues to push forward with new concepts and ideas that he’ll share at EAA AirVenture in 2015.”
Rutan is perhaps publicly known best for his SpaceShipOne design, which in 2004 won the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE as the first successful private spacecraft.
He also designed the Voyager, which in 1986 became the first aircraft to fly around-the-world nonstop on a single tank of fuel. That accomplishment earned him, along with pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, the Presidential Citizen’s Medal.
Burt Rutan was also named to the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995 and EAA Homebuilders Hall of Fame in 1998.
His VariEze aircraft first flew in May 1975, with the prototype causing a sensation at that year’s EAA fly-in. That canard design evolved into other Rutan aircraft innovations, such as the Long-EZ, that are still being built today. Rutan’s multitude of interests has also led him into successfully exploring space flight and into electric flight.
In honor of the VariEze anniversary, EAA is inviting all Rutan and canard aircraft owners to come to Oshkosh and participate in the festivities. More details on specific dates and events will be released as they are finalized.